Irish Childhood Traditions


Irish Childhood Traditions by Bridget Haggerty

In the old days, at the appearance of the new moon, many Irish children would link hands and dance, keeping time to this charming little verse:

I see the moon, the moon sees me,
God Bless the moon and God Bless me;
Thereís grace in the cottage and grace in the hall,
And the grace of God is over us all.

And thereís many an Irish mother who sang the following ditty as she bounced her baby on her knee:

How many miles to Dub-l-in,
Three score and ten,
Will we be there by candle light?
Yes and back again;
Hupp, hupp my little horse,
Hupp, hupp, again.

The 'cradle daysí of grandparents and great-grandparents, when an expectant mother had to perform many a strange ritual in order to avoid a fairy changeling ending up in her crib. Among these odd activities were putting a horseshoe on the doorpost, placing a prayerbook under her pillow, cutting a notch in a black catís tail, and breaking a new potato on the hearthstone!

Even after the baby was born, custom demanded that after the infant first opened its eyes, it must gaze on a blaze of candlelight to make certain it would prefer deeds of light to deeds of darkness.

'When they could create nothing else, to create a child of their own was as precious as finding a jewel in a turnip field.' ( From 'The Silent People' by Walter Macken)