On Friday 7th September, Ned Kelly gave an enlightening talk on folk traditions and practice in the historical and everyday present.
The pre-Christian religious beliefs of the Irish were centered on sun worship and the main religious festivals were celebrated at important times in the solar year such as at the summer and winter solstices and the spring and autumn equinoxes. Centrally placed between the solstices and the equinoxes were the cross quarter day festivals known as Imbolc, Bealtinne, Lughnasa and Samhain. Other important festivals were set by a tripartite division of the solar year. These festivals, in turn, attracted Christian feast days, some of which have preserved customs and practices from earlier pagan times.
The talk discussed the nature of ancient pagan religious practices and illustrated the manner in which modern folk custom and practice has preserved many aspects of the ancient traditions. Links were also made between folk practices in Ireland and elsewhere as well as with associated religious practices known from the classical world.
Eamonn P. Kelly is the former Keeper of Irish Antiquities in the National Museum of Ireland. He has lectured and published widely on a range of archaeological topics and is a regular contributor to television documentaries relating to ancient Ireland.
For those who were not able to make it, we have made the talk available as a podcast.