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Irish Summer Gets Off to a Soggy Start
Though its wet and windy in much of Ireland today, Irish summer has officially begun. May Day, also known as Lá Bealtaine in Ireland, traditionally marks the first day of summer in both Ireland and the UK. While heavy rain fell in Dublin, one Waterford resident posted this hopeful snapshot (above) of a budding blossom.
Bealtaine, which is the Irish word for May, has its roots in older Celtic traditions. IrishArchaeology.ie explored the history of the festival Lá Bealtaine in a recent blog post:
Mayday corresponds with the Irish festival of La Bealtaine, which officially heralded the beginning of the summer. Its name appears to derive from the Old Irish words Bel taine meaning ‘bright fire’ and it was surrounded by a large number of folk beliefs some of which had obvious pagan origins. As the name of the festival suggests bonfires played an important part in the activities and were often lit on prominent local landmarks with the Hill of Uisneach in Co. Westmeath being the most famous example.
From Irish Archaeology
In addition to bonfires, boughs of flowers were traditionally hung in doorways to ward off bad spirits:
Bealtaine Festival is also the name of the Age and Opportunity initiative, encouraging positive aging in Ireland, which also began today. The Bealtaine Festival group produced a short film to promote their festival which runs throughout the month of May.
A selection of people were asked, “What kind of old do you want to be?” and “What kind of world do you want to grow old in”:
However the chilly and damp weather left many feeling less than summery. With last month officially declared the wettest April in 14 years, many looked forward to a drier and warmer summer: