This website is brought to you by Seomra Ranga.com. It can be used as a history resource when teaching about Penal Times in Ireland, or it can be used when dealing with the history of the faith in Ireland. It could also be used as the basis for the study of your own local holy well. Classroom resources can be downloaded from the "Resources" section. I hope this web site will prove to be a valuable resource for teachers.
Garland Sunday is held on the last Sunday in the month of July. The history of Garland Sunday – or Bilberry Sunday as it is known in some areas – goes back to pagan times. One story has it that it was considered the end of the ‘hungry season’ when people could enjoy a good meal of new potatoes at this time of year.
Many pagans believe the traditions surrounding Garland Sunday grew out of the older Mabon tradition of making pilgrimages to burial grounds to honour the dead. Garlands were constructed of native vines and apples by a village's unmarried women and taken by them, along with all unmarried men, to a churchyard. If an apple fell during a procession it was a bad omen since apples often stood as symbols for the human soul and for the Goddess. At the churchyard the garland was then broken apart and strewn over the graves amidst loud keening. Feasting and dancing near the cemetery followed, and it was obligatory to show hospitality to strangers on this evening.
- Extract from "The Sabbats - A New Approach to Living the Old Ways"
by Edain Mc Coy
In the days before Christianity came to Ireland, August 1st was called "Lá Lughnasa", the feast day of the Celtic god of the harvest "Lugh". It is believed that the pagan feast of Lughnasa was turned into a Christian feast by Patrick and re-named Garland Sunday.
Garland Sunday is also
sometimes referred to as "Domhnach Chrom Dubh" (Black Crom Sunday). Crom
Dubh is often translated as the Dark Stooped One. In pre-Roman times,
Crom Dubh seems to have been considered a despotic deity with evil
powers. On the other hand, Lugh was personified as both young and
strong. It is believed that he grasped harvest riches from the hands of
fate each year by defeating the older god Crom Dubh. Each year the
ritual involved cutting the first of the harvest and taking the head of
Crom Dubh from its sanctuary and temporarily burying it in a high place.
Locally in County Mayo the celebration is known as Domhnach Crom Dubh,
but it is also known as Garland Sunday, Garlic Sunday, the last Sunday
of Summer, and Domhnach na Cruaiche -- Reek Sunday. This is the Sunday
on which traditionally many pilgrims climb Croagh Patrick in Murrisk
near Westport, Co. Mayo.