Mason's Parochial Survey, 1814-19

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Union of Kilmanaheen, Kilasbuglenane, Kilmacreehy, Kileilagh and Kilmoon

 VI. The Genius & Disposition of the Poorer Classes, &c.

Genius and Disposition
The genius and dispositions of the poorer class are in general good: they are amenable to the laws, to their superiors, and particularly to the magistrates. This appears to arise in a great measure from the kind and civilized manner in which the gentleman treats the peasant and the poor in this country, and particularly in this part of it.

The language used by the people in general is Irish, but the English language has of late years made, and is making a considerable progress among them; very few are to be met that cannot use some kind of English in conversation: of the few exceptions was a man that worked in the Archdeacon’s garden for 25 years, and is now dead. He never could extract one word of English from him, though he understood the language so well, that both had frequent conversations, he in Irish and the Archdeacon in English. He never hurried himself, but he was uniformly at work whether the gardener was with him or not: he was a philosopher in his own way, and frequently made very shrewd observations: he often told the hour of the day by looking at the sun, and also the approaching change of the weather, with an exactness that was astonishing.

Patrons, St. Bridget’s Well
The last Sunday in July is a patron day, when a number of people assemble at Lahinchy: they amuse themselves with horse-racing on the strand, dancing, &c. near it. This Sunday is called Garlic Sunday, but for what reason is not known. On Saturday evening preceding this Sunday, numbers of people, male and female, assemble at St. Bridget’s well, and remain there the entire of the night. They first perform their rounds, and then spend a good part of the time invoking this saint Bridget over the well, repeating their prayers and adorations aloud, and holding their conversations with the Saint, &c. When this ceremony is over, they amuse themselves until morning by dancing and singing, &c. They then (on Sunday morning) repair to Lahensey, distant from this well at least three miles, to conclude their merriment. This well is also resorted to, on the first of February.

The tradition about this saint is, that she led the Virgin Mary to the place of purification on the 2nd of February, and that the 1st of February was dedicated to herself on that account.

Holy Wells
If there is a cure performed at any time by the application of this water, it is ascribed solely to the interposition of St. Bridget. The holy wells all over Ireland are strong mineral waters, and were dedicated to some saint by the priests of the day, who enjoined it as a religious duty on the people to resort to them, for the purpose of having miracles wrought by those saints, and thereby increasing veneration for the priests themselves. This might be justifiable, if they had not carried the pious fraud and joke too far.

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