Evil spirits turfed out of Killorglin

An Effigy of Brid, beloved Goddess of the Celtic people with Eileen O'Sullivan from the Kilgobnet Biddies, marching in Killorglin. Photo by Valerie O'Sullivan
An Effigy of Brid, beloved Goddess of the Celtic people with Eileen O'Sullivan from the Kilgobnet Biddies, marching in Killorglin. Photo by Valerie O'Sullivan
A proper send off... Declan Evans presides over Finnegan's Wake in a packed Paud O'Neills Pub Killorglin at The Biddy's Day Festival in Killorglin on Saturday last. Photo by Michael G Kenny
Micheala, Roisin, Sean and Mary Kissane of Beaufort participating in Parade of the Biddy's in Killorglin on Saturday. Photo by Michelle Cooper Galvin
Cait O'Connor Waterville with Eileen O'Connor Dooks participating in the Biddy's Parade in Killorglin. Photo Michelle Cooper Galvin
Callinafercy Rowing Club Biddies participating in Parade of the Biddy's in Killorglin on Saturday. Photo by Michelle Cooper Galvin
Three generations of the Leane family: Michael Leane, Davy, Michael Jnr. and Maryann Leane
The Kilgobnet Biddies pass by the Garda Station
The Biddy Festival tradition comes blazing back to life in Killorglin. Photo Valerie O’Sullivan

Tadhg Evans

Locals, visitors, bars, workshops and entertainers combined on Saturday to ensure Killorglin's inaugural Biddy's Day Imbolg festival was as successful as it was unique.

The town has always embraced the weird and wonderful on Saint Brigid's weekend. It's never been out of the ordinary to see costumed clusters of 'Biddy Boys' sweeping from house to house armed only with a Brídeog doll, ordering evil spirits to pack up and leave Mid Kerry well alone for the year.

The colourful custom has its roots in an old Celtic belief that a visit by 'the Biddy' guaranteed good luck, fertility and prosperity. To not receive a visit was thought an ominous sign.

Whether to be believed or not, the traditions have survived and thrived in Killorglin, and a brand new festival aims to keep it that way.

A Friday evening talk on Saint Brigid launched the first Biddy's Day Imbolg festival, as Billy Mag Fhloinn delivered a Historical spoke at the CYMS.

As the weekend developed, so too did revelry.

Crowds gathered in Boyle's Hardware Shop from midday on Saturday to make Biddy Hats and Brigid's Crosses for the big day. The next few hours consisted of brush dancing, spoken word, bodhrán beating and spoon playing, as the new event gathered steam without delay.

The festival's highlight was the Parade of the Biddies, as the merrymakers trooped from The Fishery to Library Place with pitchforks topped with blazing sods of turf lighting the night. At Library Place, Mike Coffey was crowned King of the Biddies as his music, dancing and flamboyant costume stood out even in this most colourful crowd.

The craic carried on until late in all the pubs, and word is that we can expect more strange sightings on Brigid's Day 2018.

Kerryman

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