The May Bush and the Steam Engine!

By Christina Cassidy

My memory

‘The May Bush was in evidence very much in the ’40s and ’50s and the May Bushes I remember seeing were in odd places – the steam engine from Loughrea to Attymon. We lived near the railway. The steam engine went right through the middle of my land in Rathruddy. The engine would have a May Bush on the front of it about the size of a Christmas tree – four and a half to five and a half feet high. It would be tied in front near the buffers and it would be most beautifully decorated. There would be red squares of scrap clothes about the size of a handkerchief tied to the bush. There would be polka dot bits, there would be everything that you nearly see in a patchwotk quilt, there would be red ribbons, there would be egg shells, there would be bunches of primroses on it. It would be beautifully decorated – a sight to behold! The significance of the May Bush was that it was supposed to ward off evil and keep the fairies away. Some of the older people still put out some sort of May Bush. It mightn’t be done openly but if you look around the farms, especially the haggards you’ll see them with bits of red cloths tied to them. I still do it myself.’* *As told to Loughrea History Project interviewers by a local elderly interviewee in 2001 and published in our 2003 publication ‘The District of Loughrea – Volume II Folkore 1860 to 1960. Edited by Joseph Forde, Christina Cassidy, Paul Manzor, David Ryan.

When did this happen?


Where did this happen?

The District of Loughrea, Co. Galway.

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