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If you were born on Hallowed E’en – 1910

The Crystal Ball John William Waterhouse - 1902
The Crystal Ball
John William Waterhouse – 1902

It is an old superstition that children born on Halloween night will be possessed of peculiar faculties of foresight. Such persons are reputed to be gifted with the ability to see the future with a clear vision – they are seers. Among the pagans such a person was set up as a prophet and the wise man of the tribe – to him all homage was due.
History records that it often happened that such a person was not only a seer of the tribe, but the chief and the ruler. It was from the ranks of those of the tribe, if any there happened to be, who were born on Halloween that the rulers were recruited.

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Hallowe’en – not all ghosts are good! – 1864

Photo: U.S Department of Agriculture. Creative Commons
Photo: U.S Department of Agriculture. Creative Commons
Sacramento Daily Union, 14th December 1864
The customs of Holy Eve are as various as the countries where the feast is kept. A supper of the products of the orchard, connected with the etiquette of a hundred tricks, are attractive features “for the night only”. But it is not the broad board of apples and nuts which excite the midnight revelries of the occasion. A more serious practice swells it to the proportion of a carnival, which has survived the wreck of empires.

A portion of the world of spirits, and it must be said, not the good ghosts for whom we pray, wander through the earth for the sole purpose of making the single married, or place a winding sheet on the wicked frames of those who make too free with the devil at midnight. This is the spell which gives Hallowe’en its ancient power, and invests it with the mystery which secures it perpetual remembrance.

Nine is a number which, for some unexplained cause, provokes the presence of one of the gentlemen from the lower regions.

It happened that a maiden, anxious to be wedded to somebody, proceeded at dusk, with the first apple she received from an unmarried man, to her chamber, and having carefully locked the door, she stuck a pin nine times in the apple. Then she proceeded to the mirror with the apple raised on her hand. She beheld the mirror for only a brief space when her future lover appeared in it. But, alas, what appeared was only the face of the lover, with the club feet and tail of the devil.

There is another instance on record of Satan himself appearing in propria persona before a young lady who tried this spell.

She died in terror at beholding her marital fate…

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The night when fairies hold high carnival – 1896

Photo: 663highland Creative Commons
Photo: 663highland
Creative Commons
The night when fairies hold high Carnival

In Ireland young women place three nuts on the grate bars of the fire. One that cracks or jumps is a faithless lover, while one that burns or blazes is a true one. They burn the shells of nuts eaten on Hallow Eve and cause snails to crawl through the ashes and so trace the initials of the future husband.

These glowing nuts are emblems true
Of what in human life we view.
The ill-matched couple fret and fume,
And thus in strife themselves consume;
Or from each other wildly start,
And with a noise forever part.

But see the happy, happy pair,
Of genuine love and truth sincere;
With natural fondness while they burn,
Still to each other kindly turn’

And as the vital sparks decay,
Together gently sink away;
Till life’s fierce ordeal being past
Their mingled ashes rest at last.

(Charles Graydon, Dublin 1801)

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Halloween – 1908

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Halloween, or Samhain night according to the old Druidical division of the year, comes on the last day of summer. It is the gloomiest night of the whole twelve months to the fairy folk. The Fe-fiada, or spell of enchantment, is removed from all the fairy hills and raths as the last bit of daylight fades and all the fairies come trooping forth to moorlands and mountains to join in a mad revel with the ghosts and witches and banshees and, that most demonic spirit of all, the dreaded Pooka.
If you think you hear the wind wailing over the housetops on that night, you are mistaken. It is not the wind but the great lament or Caoin that the fairies make for the dead summer.
As the fairies are allowed to leave their hills, so mortals are allowed to enter them, and many a venturesome lad has gone into the depths of the raths and brought back wonderful tales of fairy palaces and gardens and the like.

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Colcannon – 1914

Colcannon Photo: Sarah 777 Wikipedia
Photo: Sarah 777
Colcannon – That my mother used to make (abridged)

Colcannon is a dish… rather difficult to make, and to have such a success entails much patient labour and by a skilled house keeper. On All Hallowe’en Eve — the night the fairies are ruling — it is a custom in Ireland to have a sort of ‘harvest home’ or gathering to celebrate the end of the harvest work, and at the same time various games are played, including the celebrated ‘snap the apple’. On such occasions there is an impromptu supper, and Colcannon is the piece de resistance.

The -women of Galway excel at making Colcannon…

There’s many a thing I’m missing since I sailed from County Cork,
And many a thing I’m wanting ‘mid the plenty of New York;
I miss old friends and customs, and I miss with many an ache
The Hallow Eve Colcannon that my mother used to make

Did you ever eat Colcannon when ’twas made with thickened cream,
And the greens and scallions blended like the pictures in a dream?
Did you ever scoop a hole on top to hold a melting cake
Of the clover-flavoured butter that your mother used to make?

Did you ever eat and eat, afraid you’d let the ring go past,
And some married old sprissaun’d pounce on it at last?
Then did you go blindfolded round the five plates in a row,
And find the rosary beads three times, as I did long ago?

Indeed. I’m not complaining, for I’ve plenty and to spare,
And there’s nowhere like America for one to win his share
I go thro’ life contented, but November brings an ache,
For the- Hallow Eve Colcannon that my mo ther used to make.

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Eloquent indignation – 1909

Philip van Dijk (1683-1753) The Bookkeeper Museum voor Communicatie Den Haag
Philip van Dijk (1683-1753)
The Bookkeeper
Museum voor Communicatie Den Haag

Whereas several libellous and scandalous Letters were sent to me and other Person through the Post Office, having forged names to them, I hereby offer the above reward to any person who will give such information as will lead to the conviction of the malicious wretch who dared the outrage. Or a sum of £10 for such private information as will tend to the discovery of the offender.
*name and address on file

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For Collectors of Books – 1823

Photo: TTaylor Wikimedia Commons
Photo: TTaylor
Wikimedia Commons
Collectors of books will not be sorry to learn, that a few drops of oil of
lavender will insure their libraries from mildew. A single drop of the same oil will prevent a pint of ink from mouldiness for any length of time. Past (sic) may be kept free from mould entirely by the same addition; and leather is also effectually secured from injury by the same agency.

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Traffic – 1823

Troublesome turf Wikimedia Commons
Troublesome turf
Wikimedia Commons
Connaught Journal 
Thursday, May 1, 1823

The turf cars, which are suffered to remain at the different corners, and 
particularly near William-street, Galway town, are really a very great nuisance. They
 block up the main streets, so as to render them quite impassible, especially on a market day, and the entrance to the mart-houses and shops of people of business are completely shut up.

As this is an age of improvement, would it not be well to select some place for the sale of turf? For instance, during the last summer, a handsome sum of money was granted by the Local Committee, to make a sort of market at the Bowling-green. We are not sure whether it was perfectly finished or not; but we are certain that it will not require any great finishing to render it a very proper market-place for turf. It is very much wanted; and if this suggestion shall be taken, the lives of the people will not be endangered by the furious driving of the carmen every other day.

People in business complain very much of this nuisance- and
indeed, very justly.

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Food for thought – 1885

Photo: Robert Cresswell Archives, Kinvara
Photo: Robert Cresswell Archives, Kinvara

“The land of Ireland, like the land of every other country, belongs to the people
who inhabit it * * * and when the inhabitants of a country leave it ‘en masse’
because a Government does not leave them room to live, that Government is already judged and condemned.”

Principles Of Political Economy
John Stuart Mill
Abridged, with Critical, Bibliographical,
and Explanatory Notes, and a Sketch
of the History of Political Economy,
J. Laurence Laughlin, Ph. D.
Assistant Professor of Political Economy in Harvard
A Text-Book For Colleges.
New York:
D. Appleton And Company,
1, 3, and 5 Bond Street.

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Máire Rua – Red Mary – 1927

Leamaneh Castle, Co. Clare - Home of Maire Rua Photo: Teo Romera Creative Commons
Leamaneh Castle, Co. Clare – Home of Maire Rua
Photo: Teo Romera
Creative Commons

Maev of Connacht is a name of light romance. For nigh a hundred years that strong untameable spiirit moulded and, perchance at times, marred the destiny of every notable life , that came under her influence.
To this day children are named Maev, gently nurtured children, to whose parents the Irish softness of the name appeals ; and the poetic remembrance the mists of ages have spread around the warrior Queen. Tradition tells us her hair was red — a flaming glory blent of copper and gold.
Of a much later date another red haired woman made of life a thrilling story, holding points of close resemblance to that of Maev. She lived in the earlier half of the ‘ Seventeenth ‘Century in that part of Clare where whole pages of Irish his tory are written in the stones. There are Cromlechs and forts scattered thickly around, telling of primitive strength and the human lust for supremacy. Cahercuttine (sic.) with walls of huge blocks of stone, 12 feet and more thick, and 10 feet high; another with part of it ‘veneered’ with- great slabs, and the great Doon, probably dating back to the days of the Firblogs, the Teach n’ennach, which was on a double sourced river, the Daelach, which rises thus in’ a hill north of the fort. To stand on it is to find poetry in the very names of the prominent places seen. Lisdoonvarna, Kilfenora, Liscannor Bay, where the At antic comes to be caressed by the shore of Ireland. -And across the limestone flats lies the ruined home of Maureen Rhua (Red Mary), the Castle of Lemaneagh or horseleap.
‘On lonely hills where the rabbits burrow,
Are forts of kings men name not now.’
On mountain tops I have tracked the furrow
And found in forests the buried plough.
For one man living the strong land then
Gave kindly food and raiment for ten.’
So do the lone hills of Ireland call wistfully to her children to arise and find again her sleeping resources; to make the places of burrowing rabbits yield food and raiment for men.
Lemaneagh, a ruined relic no doubt of the endless strife for the possession of Ireland, was a fine picturesque Tudor house, built on to a tall peel tower dating from 1480, the house a century later. Roofless, it showed triple pointed walls and very fine stone-mullioned windows, and the three stories and attics were still at the highest point lower than the ancient tower. A small courtyard in front was entered by a massive outer archway, bearihg two richly Carved coats of’ arms, the quarterings of Conor O’Brien- and of his son, Sir Donat O’Brien, 1690.
The worn letters below bore record that — ‘This was built in the year of our Lord 1643 by Conor O’Brien and by Mary ni Mahon, Nvife. of the said Conor.’ Gardens lay at either side, and a long fishpond fed by a little stream. The high surrounding walls had a turret at one angle and a house with niches beside the door. In this it was said Mary, wife of Conor, kept a ‘blind stallion,’ a horse of so fierce a temper that her grooms had to instantly hide in the niches when they opened the ,door to give the horse freedom. In the deerpark there is a fine cromlech, and the stone fort of Caherscrebeen lies close behind. The long avenue and still longer road named in several places ‘Sir Donat’s Road,’ tell mournfully of greatness not so long gone, greatness that had kinship with those who built the forts and raised the cromlechs, but for whom it was unwise to dwell in Tudor houses and defy the results of Tudor supremacy.
Mary was the daughter of Sir Turlough MacMahon, and she belonged to a time when English influence and Iris determination were constantly clashing.
Murrough, the first Earl of Thomond, gave Lemaneagh and Dromoland to his third son. That was in 1550; and thirty tNvo years later this son, Donough, was hanged in Limerick under martial law. It was one of the times when English supremacy over-reached itself. Donough’s little son could not be disinherited be cause his father died under a military sentence. When he died, however, in 1603, Lord Inchquin made a claim to the castle through some transaction made with Perrot several years previously. This claim, however, was not pressed for twenty years, and then un successfully.
Conor O’Brien had a strong hand to aid him in his wife Maureen Rhua. Many a strange tale has been told of her raids upon the English, and one Gregory Hickman made depositions in 1642 that: ‘Conor O’Brien, gentleman, in a most rebellious manner seized upon the deponent’s corn’; and, later, ‘Conor O’Brien, of Lemaneagh, accompanied by Mary Brien’ (and others) ‘with force of arms came to the deponent’s house and took away fourteen English swine and a parcel of household stuff; also 400. sheep.
Small wonder the Tudor house has been roofless and lone this many years. Yet, Red Mary was a dauntless soul,, not tender-hearted— but who now may say what hammer blows hardened her on the anvil of her time? Conor, mortally wounded in a fight with General Ludlow, was carried home. From a window Mary saw what she thought was a corpse, and cried out: ‘We need no dead men here,’ but, finding that life lingered in her husband she cared him tenderly enough till evening, when he died. The strait she was in spurred her courage. Donat, her son, at least was dear to her. Donning her bravery of ‘magnificent blue velvet and silver,’ she drove to Limerick and sought to make terms through surrender to Ireton. He doubted her truth, and did not believe Conor was dead. As proof she said: ‘I will marry any of your officers that asks me. ‘
Not without courage, a Cornet Cooper proposed, . and they were married the same day, and the castle and lands were saved for her son, Sir Donat O’Brien. Strength breeds stories, and many a wild tale is told of this ‘ masterful woman. ‘ The gentle benignity of her name found no counterpart in her char acter; it is said that she killed the fool hardy Cornet with a kick because he ventured to make some adverse remark about her late husband. Tradition gives her many husbands,’ and to few of them a natural death. She also sought to close a right-of-way for the people of Burren, but Terence O’Loughlin, of a neighboring castle, broke her gates and kept the way open; and she is said to have hanged all her men servants by their necks, and the women servants by their hair from the corbels of Lemaneagh, probably, if true, because they were not able to enforce her will.
It may not also be true, that she was finally enclosed in a hollow tree at Carnelly and left to starve. The tale of her. ghost along the tree-shaded ave nue Avas long believed. Her portrait shows a strong, plain, red-haired woman, with rather coarse features and a fierce mouth, wearing curious ornaments, one, a pendant, very like a. bit of carving at Clonfort, and a celebrated Italian jewel. The pendant was shaped like a mermaid.
Where, I wonder, is it now? Not so very long ago Maureen Rhua lived, and little is left of all she fiercely strove for. She is but a link in the great chain of history.— H.C.M., in ‘Irish Weekly.’