May Day in South Tyrone

By Siobhán Mcdermott

My memory

My grandmother used to always get us to collect May Flowers - which I think were actually Marsh Marigolds - and place them on the doorsteps on May Day morning. We also used to leave them over the doorways into the cattle and hen sheds, and the dog kennels. I'm not sure if the last bit was part of a tradition or something that we as children improvised. Grandma said it was to keep the evil spirits away, and we really liked our dog so it made perfect sense. When we got a little bit older we used to wake up early on May morning and wash our faces in the dew. Apparently it made whoever looked on you for the next year look on you positively...also Grandma said it was a cure for spots. Win-win for a 12 year old girl!! We also made May Altars in school, and had one at the top of the lane that we looked after ourselves. We'd collect flowers quite regularly and pay great attention to dressing it. I presume we were meant to pray, but that part wasn't our main concern - it was more the joy of making something so pretty

When did this happen?

1980's

Where did this happen?

The location is the very south of the county along the Monaghan border, the Clogher valley.

This page was added by Lorna Elms on 16/04/2012.