St. John's Eve in the Claddagh

James Hardiman, in his History of Galway (1820), wrote:

“The Nativity of St. John the Baptist (24th June) they celebrate by a very peculiar kind of pageantry. On the evening of that day the young and old assemble at the head of the village; and their mayor, whose orders are decisive, adjusts the rank, order and precedence of this curious procession. They then set out, headed by a band of music, and march with loud and continued huzzas and acclamations of joy, accompanied by crowds of people, through the principal streets and suburbs of the town: the young men all uniformly arrayed in short white jackets, with silken sashes, their hats ornamented with ribbons and flowers, and upwards of sixty or seventy of their number bearing long poles and standards with suitable devices, which are in general emblematic of their profession.”

“To heighten the merriment of this festive scene, two of the stoutest disguised in masks, and entirely covered with party-coloured rags, as “merrymen,” with man antic tricks and gambols, make way for the remainder. In the course of their progress they stop with loud cheerings and salutations opposite the houses of the principal inhabitants, from whom they generally receive money on the occasion, having at length regained their village, they assemble in groups, dancing round, and sometimes leaping and running through their bonfires, never forgetting to bring home part of the fire, which they consider sacred; and thus the night ends as the day began, in one continued scene mirth and rejoicing. That the entire of this exhibition, though unknown to the actors, is a remnant of an ancient pagan rite, is evident to any one acquainted with the early history of this country.”

Here our animators – Kasia & Luiza – used this information to bring to life this festive occasion.

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