Marian processions

Since medieval times in Ireland, there has been a strong association with the devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary during the month of May. Much of the traditions associated with May have been incorporated into the Marian processions found throughout the country.

Children and adults collected flowers for crowning Our Lady in town processions. They also used them to decorate grottoes, shrines and church altars. It was and still is very common to have a home altar either in the kitchen or outside in the farmyard. Sometimes the flowers picked for this altar were made into crosses. The maintenance of these altars and their replenishment with fresh flowers continued on from the 1 May, throughout the month.

may altar

Photo: Licketstown, Co. Kilkenny, 1966.

Bring flowers of the rarest

bring blossoms the fairest,

from garden and woodland and hillside and dale;

our full hearts are swelling,

our glad voices telling

the praise of the loveliest flower of the vale!

O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today!

Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May.

O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today,

Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May…

May Hymn to Our Lady

May Day in Ireland was a festival to welcome the summer and to protect the family and livelihood of the farm from supernatural forces.
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