And then there was the Mission, which always coincided with the turf-cutting. In my minds eye I can see my father coming down Blackhill, from the bog while the sun was still high in the sky, to prepare to go to the Mission. The Mission was an annual religious retreat which took place in most parishes. A visiting priest from a Religious Order would spend a week with the Faithful in order that their immortal Souls would be spared eternal fire. John Duggan sums it up in his monologue “Memories of the Mission.”
Sure everyone would turn out
I remember well the Missioners
I made my first communion on Whit Sunday, in June 1953. I sat my Primary Certificate exam in June 1959.
June 21st, the longest day in the year, is my time for reflection. On this the zenith, in a sense, when we have more daylight than at any other time I tend to see it in a negative light.; from there on it’s downhill. Now, I don’t suffer from SAD syndrome, I can manage quiet well with less diurnal illumination and unpleasant climatic conditions. So, I think that, subconsciously or otherwise I see the summer solstice as a metaphor for (my life). We weren’t in touch with the signs of the zodiac, so “Gemini Twins” didn’t crop in end of day conversations. But any person, or animal, born in June was known as “a June yelper”.
It was traditional in Ireland to light bonfires on 23rd June, Midsummer’s Eve. They were always on 29th June which was the feast of Saints Peter and Paul and a Holyday. Another link with my past has disappeared in the last few weeks; the “Bonfire-stone” at the bottom of the Lodge Lane has been removed during road-widening. Up until recent times smoke stains could be seen on this relic of our Pagan past. Bonfires may have begun as offerings to the sun ( around Mid-summer to beseech the sun to stay with them).
And wasn’t it in June that, in Ulysses, that Buck Mulligan climbed the stairs in Sandycove, Leopold Bloom traveled the streets of Dublin and his wife, Molly, said, “ Yes, I will, yes”
In more recent times Writers’ Week in Listowel came to be the highlight of my year. This year most of it was in May, finishing on June 01st. I’ll tell you about it next time.
And, speaking of which, I want to say hello to a Writers’ Week stalwart, Larry Burke from Minnesota who couldn’t make it this year. Happy Birthday Larry and get well soon.
Below: June Sunset in Ireland
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