August at last!
Welcome to the most vibrant festival of them all
Of the four cross-quarter festivals in the Celtic Calendar, Lughnasa was a contender for the most vibrant and was certainly the most pagan. Just in time for Lughnasa, the Racontour Archive has completed its Celtic Calendar audio archive with a range of Irish voices for this most colourful time of the year.
Beside you is a drop down menu of 16 audio clips from our Lughnasa Folklore collection. Scroll through to hear each of them or go to our Lughnasa Folklore page on Audioboom where you can choose which platform to listen to the pieces on. Our Spotify playlist for Lughnasa comes complete with Lughnasa/summer tunes in between the lore.
An extended celebration
Unlike the other cross-quarter days, Lughnasa’s customs and rituals didn’t just take place on the festival eve and day itself, being the 1st of August here. Garland Sunday allowed for the day of rest to be put to good use for those who’d been busy with the harvest. The build-up to Lughnasa was known as Hungry July, but was also the height of the mighty Tailteann games established by Lugh in honour of his foster mother, Tailtiu. Harvest activity ran right through until Michaelmas at the end of September. ‘Summer is summer until Michaelmas’ was a popular phrase back then.
Three very different Lughnasa events
Three very different set piece events of Lughnasa are still intact and are dealt with individually in the archive. We tell you more about the Auld Lammas Fair and even give you a rendition of the eponymous song. We explain why the Eagle’s Peak had to make way for Patrick and his demons and how a mountain goat in Killorglin was by far a more welcoming committee than the bulls of Pamplona! As you’ll hear from our adjacent audio clip, we favour the more raucous affair that is Puck Fair as the most authentic relic of a pagan festival at this time of year – right down to it refusing to move to the modern calendar!
The hills are alive
We are fortunate to have interviewed some highly-regarded historians and storytellers in the Donegal clips that feature including Helen Meehan, JJ Hegarty, John McGrory and Patsy McNulty. On-site interviews with locations that came alive at Lughnasa are included such as Disert at the foot of sacred Carnaween in County Donegal. We tell you more about ‘winning the turf’ up there during the month of Lughnasa and of how St. Eigne’s holy well had to contend with the Black and Tans using it for firing practice.
Find out more about Lughnasa lore
Other questions answered include just who was the Great Lady of the Harvest, the Cailleach or indeed the Dark-Stooped One, what exactly was handfasting and how come the last of the sheaf had voodoo qualities? What sort of game was fidchel, what occurred at the harvest home and just what and when was the closure – or indeed Gleaning Sunday? These and many more curious features will be revealed as we go through all of the main customs and rituals during the harvest seasons.
A beast of a feast
Lughnasa may have been watered down as a major event with the passing of time, but we seek to bring you back to a time when it was an earthy, lively, full-throttled beast of a festival. A time when people congregated in droves where folk toiled hard in the fields, but danced even harder well into those balmy evenings. No prizes for how this pagan soul would like to see events such a Fraughan Sunday right back on the calendar for all to enjoy fresh air, scenery, exercise and best of all, romance!
Unleash you atavistic tendencies
Everything in the calendar year from the bleak midWinter to the fasting of Lent had all been in countdown to the plenitude that was the harvest of Lughnasa. It was a time to celebrate the land giving back and reap the rewards of harvest time. As you’ll have heard, there were a lot of variables to deal with throughout the year, so a good harvest was a cause for much joy – even if it was back breaking work.
We hope you embrace your latent atavistic tendencies and enjoy the wonders of this most glorious of festivals on our audio archive, available on all platforms.