The season's here for poets and romantics
THERE is always a sense of pleasant anticipation when looking forward to the next season, whether it be spring, summer, autumn or winter.
Our memories also tend to be selective and we mostly think about and recall only the nicer elements of each of the seasons.
In winter we long for spring and by the time October arrives we are again happily dreaming of crisp frosty mornings, blazing log fires, roast pheasant, the sounds of cattle munching contentedly in warm sheds and those wonderful farmyard scents of hay, silage and well-fed animals. Despite the workload that snow brings, we can still appreciate the beauty of a countryside transformed into a white wonderland.
Spring brings a sense of hope and renewal with fresh shoots, snowdrops, daffodils and the gradual leafing of trees. Later, the return of the swallows and house martins, song birds busy nest-building and the sounds of the dawn chorus all reassure us that, once again, crops will grow and if the weather is kind, food will again be plentiful.
Mayday heralds the arrival of summer, a time of lush abundance when our ancestors celebrated the date with feasts and festivals to honour the \continuity of life and our survival for another year. The customs associated with Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtaine and Lughnasagh recall the ever-present Celtic link with our ancient history and our inherited closeness to the land.
Marking the seasons and the changes in the strength of the sun were, until very recently, of huge importance, for the success or failure of crops meant the difference between life and death.
It is thought to have been around 500BC when the first Celtic settlers arrived in Ireland and their influence is still very evident today in our art, literature and language, principally due to the work in the 1890s of Celtic revivalists such as Douglas Hyde and WB Yeats. These gifted scholars successfully created a historical identity and a sense of real pride in being Irish. Yeats especially popularised our written mythology which abounds with stories of heroes and heroines who are said to have lived in Ireland in ancient times.