Sunday 29 July 2012

Cromdubh Sunday

The final entry in the July volume of Canon O'Hanlon's Lives of the Irish Saints concerns our national patron and his vanquishing of a native pagan deity, Cromdubh. This was interfaith dialogue fifth-century style! Whilst churchmen of Canon O'Hanlon's generation would not have lost any sleep over the destruction of a pagan idol, it is interesting to note his approving comment that our pagan ancestors 'frequently resisted the mythology of the Druids, in a search for primitive truths'. The idea of the Irish as a holy people was so important that it had to be reflected in them even before the coming of Christianity. Overall, however, I have the impression that Canon O'Hanlon is a little ill at ease with what he describes here, and it is true to say that the nineteenth-century Church was often uncomfortable with aspects of folk religion such as patterns and the sort of festival described below.

Cromdubh Sunday, or the Last Sunday of July.

In closing our Irish Calendar notices for this month, it may be as well to observe, that the present celebration is variable, as to date, and only noticed by the people, because it survives in tradition. The last Sunday of July— known to many of the Irish peasantry as Garland Sunday —is said to have been sacred to our great national Apostle, St. Patrick. Others call this Cromdubh, meaning "Black Crom" Sunday; because it is traditionally held to have been the anniversary for the destruction of a celebrated pagan idol, which was a former object of Gentile worship among our forefathers, before Gospel light shone among them, owing to St. Patrick's great exertions. Sir James Ware asserts, that the ancient Irish worshipped some of the Grecian and Roman deities. This, however, is strenuously denied by Charles O'Conor, of Balenagar, who asserts, it has no colour in ancient history; while the people, imbued with a knowledge of learning, frequently resisted the mythology of the Druids, in a search for primitive truths.' It has been asserted, likewise, that Drownugh Cromdu means "Cromdu's fair" or "pattern." It is a common saying, "Things were not so dear (or so cheap) since the days of Cromdu." It has been thought, moreover, that Cromdubh was probably Criomthaun, who was the second Christian King of Cashel, and that then patterns or "patrons," or fairs, were instituted in honour of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The Rev. Dr. Lanigan supposes, that Cromdubh was the same idol as Cromcruach, already alluded to in St. Patrick's Acts. That Domhnach Chroim Duibh was an ancient Irish festival appears from the fact, that allusion is made to it in our Annals, early in the twelfth century. We have the authority of Dr. O'Donovan for stating, that Crom Dubh was the name of a chieftain in Umhall, who had been a powerful opponent of St. Patrick, but who had been converted by the latter on this day. Some of the foregoing statements seem confirmed, by local traditions. In Donoghmore parish, county of Wexford, a patron was formerly held, on the last Sunday of July; but it is not now remembered to be held in honour of any saint. All these accounts, however, are exceedingly vague and obscure; nor are we able to throw further light on the subject.

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Tuesday 10 July 2012

A Travel Blessing

A Brigit bennach ar sét
nachar táir bét arar cúairt;
a challech a Lifi lán
co rísem slán ar tech úait.

O Brigit bless our road
May misfortune not find us on our journey;
O nun from the full Liffey
until we reach our house safely because of you.

Content Copyright © Trias Thaumaturga 2012-2015. All rights reserved.