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Mid-Kerry Biddy tradition gets official state recognition


The age-old tradition of the biddy in Mid Kerry, which dates back to Celtic times, has been given official state recognition as an important part of Irish cultural heritage.

It is now hoped that the Mid Kerry biddy tradition will, in time, get official UNESCO status, in order to ensure that it  is preserved and remains part of Irish culture and heritage.

The Irish government has this week released a permanent National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage, celebrating living cultural heritage practices in Ireland.

This measure represents official State recognition of cultural practices all around Ireland and will serve to protect and promote these practices for generations to come. 

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Thirty unique practises of Irish 'living cultural heritage' are included on the list including the Mid-Kerry biddy tradition - the only Kerry tradition on the list.

It joins a range of activities from Irish crochet lace to the Burren Winterage festival, Boyne currach-making and snap-net fishing.

Minister for Culture and Heritage Josepha Madigan TD officially launched the list last week, and the news has been welcomed by chairperson of the Biddy's Day Committee, Conor Browne, who organises the biddy festival every year. 

The biddy tradition in Mid Kerry is unique to the region. Biddy groups travel to houses in each area to provide entertainment and a blessing on the house to mark the start of spring. This takes on place on February, the first day of which is St Brigid's Day. 

The biddy tradition dates back to the Celtic festival of  Imbolc and is linked to the start of spring and the fertility of animals for the spring months. 

"To be put on a list is a huge recognition of the tradition and will protect and preserve it. We had to provide historical and modern evidence of its importance," explains Conor. 

It is hoped to get full UNESCO status for the tradition in the future. Hurling and Uileann Piping already have such recognition.