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Original article;

Yes, you read that correctly. That is indeed the correct title of this blog post. Now, imagine my surprise to learn that our little parish has been historically known to have women morphing into hares by night and kids dressing up as their opposite sex counterparts on occasion.  Strange, but I must admit it made me feel a little more “at home”…I mean what’s more American than Playboy bunnies and cross dressing…very urban…very cosmopolitan, no?

On a closer examination, I learned that this countryside cross dressing/hare morphing was of a different ilk, which was initially disappointing, but became far more interesting as I listened to the cacophony of stories about “May Eve” and all of the beliefs attached to it. Pishoguery, coaxioriums, changelings, faeries and perhaps the most fabulous and sensational: real women who transform into hares and run around wildly about the land. {without a doubt, a talent I would most certainly love to have}

Now, we all know that Ireland has it’s fair share of lore and such, but I had no idea that many of these teachings still have a valid place in modern countryside society and that furthermore many traditions around those beliefs are still practiced in our tiny village. In fact, I was only just informed yesterday that our entire farm is sprinkled with holy water each year on “May Eve” to ward off Pishoguery and other spirits.

Allow me to explain. May Eve is the evening before May Day (April 30th) and on this evening it is said that a certain type of sorcery transpires in which female evil-doers called “pishogues” come round and do their best to make people’s lives miserable in one way or another.  The pishogues would do things such as lay eggs, bread, meats and other consumable items on another’s land and it is believed that by doing so it would somehow rob the riches from that farm and be transferred onto the pishogue’s estate. Now, let me be clear-these pishogues were real people; neighbours, churchgoers and everyone knew who they were. Real people who were known to be sort of possessed by the devil and forced into doing these dreadful acts.  This pishoguery basically put the fear of God in people and villagers began sprinkling holy water on their homes, livestock, farmyards, machinery….everything and anything to ward off this evil on May Eve. (I hate to say it, but it kinda sorta reminds me of what seemed to happen whenever the Avon lady would come calling in the neighborhood where I lived as a child.)

It doesn’t end with the Pishogues, May Eve offers still more unusual events and characters. There would be faeries flitting about who were known to capture the little boys from farms and change them into their own offspring, i.e. “changelings”. In order to prevent their children from being taken, families dressed up their boys as girls to fool the faeries. Apparently, girls were no good to them.  This meant that it wouldn’t be uncommon to see little boys dressed as girls walking about the village or going to church on the first of May; and nobody would give them a second look. Oh, how times have changed.…

Of course, no May Eve would be complete without a story involving the ubiquitous “love potion”.  Yes, coaxioriums were popular on this evening as well {LOVE the word coaxiorium-despite the fact that I can’t say it out loud}. Allegedly, if a woman made an advance on a man and was rejected she would slip him a potion and he’d come around. After this act, the people in the community would comment that she must have gave him the coaxiorium. Nowadays, it seems it’s the men who need their own secret little potion of one type or another…..

My absolute favourite is the whole business of women who had the power to turn into hares. They would morph into wild rabbit hares and go out during that day or evening and get into all kinds of mischief and then return home and have a cup of tea as if nothing had happened. Often times, a person would come across a lady’s dress and shoes lying near a hedge and they would take no notice, assuming that she had likely changed into a hare and was just out galavanting in the field.  Forgive me, but I would take great pleasure in that type of behaviour…imagine, if you will, gathering all of your best girlfriends, changing yourselves into hares and having a mad little tea party in the Irish countryside with all of the hedgehogs and red foxes.

So there you have it, May Eve, cross dressing and wild women hares in the country. While this all seems a bit Twilight Zone-y to me, many of these accounts have credible witnesses and are steeped in traditions that have stood the test of time. So now I know that in Kilcolman, we sprinkle our holy water to be safe and all I can say is:what’s good for the gander…

Slan Abhaile,


Special Offers for Glenribbeen

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Special Offers for Glenribbeen – Glenribbeen Eco Lodge website:


This is a WIP (work in Progress) as I learn to use this new (for me) facility.

We intend to offer our guests to this eco-blog the chance to avail of a great Spring offer for Glenribbeen. Please come back soon – after I get this all figured out 🙂

Is Ireland to retain its standing as one of the best places in the world in which to live.

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Things not nearly as bad as they are often portrayed

Inside Politics: We enjoy living standards that were unimaginable to previous generations

Sten Collins ;

 First published:Sun, Jun 2, 2013, 06:00

Michael Noonan’s plan to put structures in place to ensure that budgetary discipline continues until 2020 has provoked a predictable clamour from “anti-austerity” campaigners.

Some politicians and pundits have learned nothing from the past decade and appear to believe that, despite our massive debt burden, the exchequer can return to lavish spending without regard to the consequences.

There is also the question about just how austere our “austerity” actually is.

Some, particularly those who have lost their jobs or have ended up in serious debt, have undoubtedly suffered significantly during the current downturn but for most people the adjustment has not been nearly as painful.

The fact that over 90 per cent of home owners have signed up to pay their property tax obligations is hardly a sign of a society buckling under the stress of “austerity”. On the contrary, it reflects the fact that most people are still doing remarkably well by historical standards.

We enjoy living standards that were unimaginable to previous generations and according to a range of international yardsticks, we are one of the most prosperous and fairest countries on the planet.

That is not something “anti-austerity” campaigners or the media purveyors of doom want to hear but it is worth looking at some of the evidence.

One very important international measurement of a country’s wellbeing and economic health is the United Nations Human Development Index. This ranks countries on factors including income, education, health and life expectancy.

Seventh best
The report for 2012 published a few months ago ranked Ireland seventh best off out of 186 UN states. It didn’t generate a lot of publicity here, probably because it runs counter to the dominant media narrative of a country in the depths of depression.

Ireland had slipped two places since 2008 but coming in seventh overall and the third highest in the EU is remarkable given the scale of the current economic adjustment. The UK was in 26th place, and we were also ahead of some long-term rich countries like Sweden, Switzerland, Japan and Canada.

When the index was first published in 1990 the UK was in 10th position and Ireland was in 17th. We have come a considerable way since then and the financial crash has not destroyed most of the gains made in the interval.

The UN index is not the only international measurement that puts Ireland in the top tier. Average wage statistics from the OECD put Ireland second only to the United States in terms of gross incomes, while the World Economic Forum global gender gap index puts Ireland in fifth place last year, up from tenth in 2006.

A range of reports from the OECD, the European Commission and the ESRI have shown that we have one of the fairest income tax and income redistribution systems in the world. It means that those earning the most have borne the greatest share of the fiscal adjustment since 2009.

Of course statistics and surveys don’t tell the full story about the impact of the crash. Still, they do bear out what many outside the hothouse of the political and media worlds know in their bones: for most people things are not nearly as bad as they are often portrayed.

In a recent paper eminent economist Brendan Walsh explored how Ireland had fared on a range of indicators for wellbeing from the 1970s to 2011. One of his conclusions based on Eurobaromoter polls was that life satisfaction had not shown a marked decline between 2007 and 2011, despite the fact that this country has been among the hardest hit by the financial crisis. While there was a small decline it was not as dramatic as that recorded in other crisis-stricken countries or during previous Irish recessions.

“Furthermore, contrary to expectations, other possible indicators of wellbeing, such as the suicide rate and admission rates to psychiatric hospitals, have not risen in line with the soaring unemployment rate, and the Irish fertility rate has remained high in the face of economic adversity. Overall, the impact of the current recession on wellbeing has been surprisingly small,” concluded Walsh.

His conclusions tally with those of one experienced betting man who wagered a substantial sum on Fianna Fáil to win the Meath East byelection. His logic appeared impeccable. In the last 30 years the government of the day has lost every bylection bar one. So this Government, two years into a tough programme of retrenchment, should have had no chance of winning. In the event Fine Gael candidate Helen McEntee won the contest . This was widely attributed to the sad circumstances that created the vacancy but the punter drew a different conclusion. “People can’t be as angry as the media led me to believe. I should have known that because personally I am prepared to put up with whatever needs to be done to get the country back.”

Big mistakes
The wide acceptance of the need for fiscal discipline doesn’t mean big mistakes have not been made in response to the crisis. One of the outstanding failures is the way the burden of the crash has been heaped on to the shoulders of the young. Tens of thousands of young people have not been able to get jobs or have been forced to emigrate because the pain has not been shared equally across the generations. A recent study by the ESRI established that those aged under 45 have been affected dramatically more by the recession.

The last government and the current one have protected the elderly and punished the young. Putting the economy back on a sustainable path is the best way of catering for the young in the long term but more imaginative short-term policies are also badly needed if Ireland is to retain its standing as one of the best places in the world in which to live.

Another interesting article – on same page of Irish Times 2nd June 2013;