Now into its third year since being successfully restored and revamped, the organisers of the Biddys Day festival in Killorglin are confident that they have successfully saved the traditions held so dearly by past generations.
Starting at 11am this Saturday, February 2, and featuring talks, workshops, music, film screenings and comedy clubs, this one-day festival has plenty colourful customs and weird and wonderful fun to offer.
Sometimes compared to the Wren Boys or the Straw Boys, Biddy's Day has its roots deep in both the old Celtic tradition of Imbolc and Christianity's St Bridgid's Day. The Biddy is honoured each year in the region when Biddy groups visit rural houses and pubs in the area, carrying a Brídeóg with them as they go, ensuring that all evil spirits are kept away from humans and animals alike for the coming years.
Traditionally, a visit from the Biddy guaranteed good luck, fertility, and prosperity, while receiving no visit was thought to be a very ominous sign indeed. Speaking ahead of this year's festival, organiser Conor Browne says he is excited for others to continue to experience and enjoy these traditions all over again this year.
"We've succeeded in rejuvenating the tradition - these traditions that dated back hundreds of years. I believe that we managed to save it just as it was starting to die out," Conor said.
"The festival has definitely grown so much. Before we started it up again three years ago, the tradition was still alive, but some years there might only have been one Biddy group taking part, and that was usually Kilgobnet."
"Now, we're up to 10 or 11 groups taking part. We are back to when the Biddys was at its height back in the '50s and '60s." This year's line up of events is very like that of the two previous years, with the main event, as always, being the night-time torchlight parade through Killorglin at 7pm.
"We will have expert Pat Broderick coming down, and there will also be a willow lantern-making workshop taking place as well," Conor added.
One of the best parts of the festival, of course, is the election of the new King of the Biddys - with last year's King John Callahan ready to hand over his crown. Anyone looking for further updates on the festival should check out the Biddys Day Facebook page.