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Protect your property and yourself - make a Parshell!
by Bridget Haggerty

The Parshell is a Hallowe'en cross which is customarily woven on October 31st. It is placed over the front door, on the inside of the house, and is believed to help protect against ill-luck, sickness and evil spirits until the following All Hallow's Eve...

A new one was made the next year and the old one moved to another part of the house. Often, the old Parshell was placed in the barn to help protect the livestock. Custom decrees that on taking down the old cross, one must say "Fonstarensheehy." What this means, we have no idea, but we'll try to find out!

In the meantime, here are very simple directions for making a Parshell:

Materials:
1. Two sticks, each about seven inches long.
2. Tape or string to tie the sticks together.
3. Straw or similar plant material; we purchased a bag of rafia at a craft shop and this works well.

Method:
1. Fasten the two sticks together at right angles to form a cross.
2. Begin attaching strands of straw at the center of the cross.
3. Moving clockwise, weave the straw over one stick and under the next, going around the cross. Stop before you get to the ends of the sticks- a few inches of stick should be exposed. Your Parshell is now ready to be attached over your front door, on the inside.

Caution: For your Parshell to be effective, it must be made on October 31st - you can' make it ahead of time, nor can you use Irish procrastination as an excuse and make it after Halloween.

Beyond making Parshells, here are some other things you can do to protect yourself on Hallowe'en:

If there are children in the house, they should be sprinkled with holy water; in the old days, a dead ember from the fire was put in the cradle.

To protect against being carried off by the fairies, it was the custom to carry a black handled knife or have a steel needle stuck in a coat collar or sleeve. If by chance, the fairies did lead a person a stray, he or she could confuse them by turning the coat inside out. The fairies would no longer recognize their victim and their attentions would be diverted elsewhere.

Wild fruit, such as blackberries, must never be eaten on Hallowe'en night or after that date because it was believed that the dreaded evil spirit, the Púca, had spat on it.

Should you meet up with the fairies, it is said that if you throw the dust taken from under your feet at them, they will be obliged to release any captive human in their company.

When throwing out water, one must always shout seachain! (beware!) or chughaibh an t-usce! (water towards you!). This warning enables the ghosts and fairies to step aside so they won't be splashed - something that must be avoided at all costs, lest you bring down their wrath upon you and your loved ones.

Finally, before retiring, you must be certain to place a portion of the evening meal outside for the fairy folk. Your hospitality will be duly noted (as will the lack of it!)

So there you have it , a fair flahoolagh of cautionary measures to keep in mind - or drive you out of it - this Hallow's Eve and Samhain. Shona dhuit Samhain - Happy Halloween to you!

Image and main resource: The Year in Ireland by Kevin Danaher.

 

Wed, Mar 22, 2017

The Galway Hooker

This unique vessel, with its distinctive curved lines and bright red sails, originated in the village of Claddagh. During the 19th century, hookers supported a significant fishing industry and also carried goods, livestock and fuel. Seán Rainey is remembered for building the last of the original boats, the Truelight, for Martin Oliver who was to become the last king of the Claddagh; as king, he was entitled to white sails on his boat. Since the mid seventies, many of the old sailing craft which were on the verge of extinction have been lovingly restored and new ones have been built. During the summer months they can be seen at festivals such a Cruinniú na mBád - the Gathering of the Boats - in Kinvara.


Click for More Culture Corner.





The Twilght Hour
Simon Marsden

In this beautifully produced work, internationally acclaimed photographer, Simon Marsden offers haunting black and white photographs to illustrate the fictional texts borrowed from famous writers of the gothic and the macabre.
Click here for The Twilight Hour.


 

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