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Thursday, 3 July 2014

Some Irish Superstitions

Hi my dear friends. I hope you are all having a great day! Today we journey into some of the ancient Irish Superstition. 
I have to admit, this post brought a few smiles.  Have a great read and feel free to share your thoughts. Thank you

Some Irish Superstitions 

Though the two may not be mutually exclusive, it can definitely be argued that superstitions are intrinsically tied in with traditional folklore, and with a culture as steeped in customs and fables as Ireland’s, it’s no surprise that there are more than a handful of superstitions unique to the country and its people. This article aims neither to quell nor to poke fun at such beliefs. Instead, its intent is simply to celebrate the rich traditional backing behind each, and perhaps, for the more superstitious, even to lead lives at their optimum luck level.

The phrase “the luck of the Irish” isn’t all it may seem. In fact, it isn’t in the least bit what it sounds like at all. Dripping with irony, the sarcastic phrase refers instead to the bad luck that has befallen both Ireland and many an Irishman. Just read up on Irish poetry and you’ll be struck with multiple tragedies that have peppered the history of the nation. 

With that, it’s no wonder that Irish folk have a well-rounded and equally well-cultivated list of unlucky omens that should always be avoided at all cost – or as much as the situation may permit. For example, finding a magpie at your doorstep looking at you symbolizes an impending death that cannot be averted, and similarly on the bird-related front, killing a robin redbreast would mean an onslaught of bad luck for the rest of your life.

Besides being a potentially painful ordeal, stumbling at the foot of a grave is considered bad luck, although actually falling and touching the ground in the process would signal the fact that death will be in your near future – before the year is up, to be exact. 

Other choice bad luck omens include: girls whistling, crowing hens, accepting a lock of hair from your lover, if your chair falls when you stand up and a hare crossing your path, specifically before sunrise. 

Fishermen are also encouraged to return their first salmon catches of the season to ward off bad luck, just as one should never ask a man going fishing just where he is headed to. Unlucky omens to encounter while on a trip include magpies, cats, or limping women. Perhaps my favourite of the lot would be if you get your top wet, while washing the dishes – unwittingly or otherwise – you will end up marrying a drunk. Let it be known that the above bad luck omens are just the tip of the iceberg.

It may seem like the Irish have a lot to blame their bouts of misfortune on, but fear not, as they too have an extensive list of lucky symbols, apart from the usual four-leafed clover.

For instance, if you hear a cuckoo, or see not one, not two, but three magpies on your wedding morning, you’re in for good luck. Once again on the bird front, if you hear a cuckoo on your right, you’re in for an entire year of good luck, just as finding a hen and her chicks venturing into your house is a sign of good things to come.

Similarly, it is a good luck sign to see two magpies on your right. However, seeing three on your left is widely considered to be highly unlucky. An old Irish saying goes “find a penny, pick it up, and all day long, you’ll have good luck”.

Bear in mind this only applies if the penny is lying heads up. Aside from that, many Irish believe that an incessant itching in your left hand symbolizes a windfall of fortune, and it your right hand itches, a new friend is on the horizon. Superstitions, it seems, all boil down to the nitty gritty.

Fairies – the overarching category under which leprechauns and banshees fall – also play an integral role in Irish superstition. 

Several attempts have been made to venture guesses about their origins, though, as expected, not one has had much success in proving their credibility. The first of which would be that fairies are, in fact, the Túatha Dé Dannan, the original gods of Ireland, who were defeated by the Sons of Mil. The result being that they were diminished in size and banished to live amongst the hilly plains. With the power of immortality amongst others, fairies are invisible to humans, only seen by whomever they may choose to be seen by. A second stab alleges that they are fallen angels, much like Lucifer. While some fell into Hell when they were cast from Heaven, others fell onto earth, where they live until this day as fairies. There are both benevolent as well as malevolent fairies, the latter having developed a deep-rooted resentment towards human beings, as while mankind will be granted immortality with “The Last Day”, fairies will, on the other hand, simply vanish off the face of the earth.

As such, fairies are more than blithe sprites to the Irish. And, as a result, there isn’t a shortage of superstitions revolving around fairies. To preface this, it is widely believed that fairies should never be referred to as “fairies” aloud, as they prefer, instead, to be called “The Wee Folk”, “The Other Crowd”, or “Them” – anything but “fairies”. A definite harbinger of misfortune would be to build a house or do anything to obstruct a fairy path, as that would lead to sickness, and eventually death. Likewise, their mounds and burrows should never be disturbed, as doing so would (unsurprisingly) incur their wrath.

As legend has it, three young Irish lads once decided that digging up a fairy mound for buried treasure would be a bright idea. This only led to their painful deaths by way of tuberculosis. Pretty grim stuff.

Fairies may also choose to make their paths clear through your home as they please, and the result is much unlike the parade of sprinkles and fairy dust one might expect. What often happens is quite the opposite, actually, as residents may fall ill. In order to undo this, dwellers are urged to board their doors so that the fairies would have to go around the home instead.
That’s not all, as dwellers are even supposed to build a brand new house on the other side of the existing one to further rid the family of its illness. Fairies also often derive joy from disguising themselves as beggars and moving from door to door, hoping for bits of charity. People who donate will find themselves a reward, while those who don’t will fall prey to the repercussions of a disgruntled beggar-fairy.

While there are superstitions that may come across as highly baseless (for example, the one about ginger women being evil), one cannot deny that there may just be some truth, or at the very least, a semblance of perfectly logical reasoning behind some of them. For one, killing a robin is discouraged as it is seen as an unlucky omen, but people shouldn’t feel entitled to go around hurting innocent animals, either way. Or should one go berserk destroying nature’s mounds or burrows as they fancy? Perhaps there really is more to superstitions than misfortune or luck; perhaps behind each superstition was a wise sage, planting seeds of morals into each passing generation. Just maybe.



I hope you all have enjoyed reading this short interesting analogue of the Irish Superstitions. 

Thank you very much dear friends for dropping by

With love, from your Fairy Lady

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