Tag Archives: Talamh an Éisc

What happened to Sheelagh’s Day?

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

March 18

The final brush of snow is on the way

The final brush of snow is on the way

In Newfoundland and Labrador there has been a long established tradition to refer to the day following St. Patrick’s Day  as  Sheelagh’s Day.

As early as 1819,  the Anglican Missionary and historian Lewis Anspach who wrote the first general history of Newfoundland wrote:

“It is hardly in the power of any priest in the world to hinder an Irishman from getting gloriously drunk, if he is so inclined, on the whole of the 17th of March, as well as the next day in honour of Sheelagh….”

The St. John’s newspaper, The Newfoundlander on reporting on the celebrations of the members of Benevolent Irish Society in St. John’s on March 17, 1829 wrote:

The company continued to retire, successively, until six o’clock on Sheelagh’s morning, (March 18) at which hour, we understand, a few of the campaigners might have been seen, as usual, piously and patriotically employed in “drowning the shamrock.”

Sheelagh (also Sheila, Sheilah, Sheelah) in Irish folk legend is somewhat of a mystery she is variously described as the wife, sister, housekeeper or acquaintance of St Patrick, patron saint of Ireland.

In Newfoundland few refer to March 18 by her name day; nowadays her name is only invoked with reference to any storm that takes place on or shortly after March 18 – the storm being referred to as Sheelagh’s Brush.

So ingrained in the Newfoundland psyche is the association of with Sheelagh and the last storm of the winter season  that the fishing fleets were reluctant to put out their gear and the sealing fleets were reluctant to take to the ice preferring to wait until after Sheelah’s Brush had passed.

Sheila’s Brush typically brings a heavy snowfall. The snow is attributed to Sheila’s sweeping away of the last of winter. But, once the brush blows through  – it signals that Spring is just around the corner.

Pity her name is not invoked as it was in our past. It is time to reclaim March 18 to give this day, the traditional name, Sheelagh’s Day.

Sláinte!

Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives  take some time to look at MG 612  the BIS  collection  it consists of minutes of  the BIS (1822-1933, 1938-1970, 1973-1979); agendas (1964-1970); Centenary Volume (1806-1906); loan receipts (1905-1906); journal (1910-1920); cash book (1920-1931); ledger (1939-1944).

Museum Exhibit:  take some time to see: Talamh an Éisc – The Fishing Ground , an exhibition  at The Rooms, that introduces the Irish peoples who have been in Newfoundland and Labrador since the late 1600s, the exhibit explores the communities they built and celebrates the contributions they made to life here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

 

“Drowning the shamrock”

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

March 17

Photo Credit: “Drowning the Shamrock” Illustrated London News, March 19, 1853

Photo Credit: “Drowning the Shamrock” Illustrated London News, March 19, 1853

The St. John’s newspaper, The Newfoundlander reporting on the celebrations of the members of Benevolent Irish Society (BIS) in St. John’s on March 17, 1829  wrote:

The company continued to retire, successively, until six o’clock on Sheelagh’s morning, (March 18) at which hour, we understand, a few of the campaigners might have been seen, as usual, piously and patriotically employed in “drowning the shamrock.”

The  Newfoundland tradition called “drowning the shamrock” takes place on St. Patrick’s Day, when the shamrock that has been worn in the hat or lapel is removed and put into the last drink of the evening.

A toast is proposed and then, when the toast has been honored, the shamrock is taken from the bottom of the glass and thrown over the left shoulder.

Time to bring back the tradition of ‘drowning the shamrock.’

Sláinte!

Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives  take some time to look at MG 612  the Benevolent Irish Society (BIS) collection. This collection consists of  the minute books  of  the BIS (1822-1933, 1938-1970, 1973-1979); agendas (1964-1970); Centenary Volume (1806-1906); loan receipts (1905-1906); journal (1910-1920); cash book (1920-1931); ledger (1939-1944).

Museum Exhibit:  take some time to see: Talamh an Éisc – The Fishing Ground , an exhibition  at The Rooms, that introduces the Irish peoples who have been in Newfoundland and Labrador since the late 1600s, the exhibit explores the communities they built and celebrates the contributions they made to life here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Recommended Activities: The Irish Newfoundland Association as part of their 40th  Annual Irish Week Celebrations are proud to  work with other  organizations to  celebrate our Irish culture.   Click here for an UPDATED  calendar of Irish related events: http://archivalmoments.ca/2017/03/irish-week-events-calendar-2017/

 

 

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day Tradition in Newfoundland and Labardor

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

March 17, 1851

The Executive and members of the Benevolent Irish Society (BIS) marched for the first time from their club rooms to the Roman Catholic Cathedral (now Basilica) on St. Patrick’s Day 1851 and were welcomed by the Bishop. The tradition of the parade to the Basilica, followed by the celebration of the mass (the Feast of St. Patrick’s), is followed by a reception by the bishop in the Episcopal Residence. The tradition continues to this day.

Leaving  the company of the Archbishop  the tradition was for the  BIS to parade to  Government House to be received by the  Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The members of the Executive have since the first visitation presented  their hosts with a  small basket of shamrocks.

The B.I.S. was formally established in St. John’s on February 5, 1806 as a non-denominational service club to help educate and improve the lifestyle of the poor Irish immigrant children of St. John’s. The primary requirement for membership was that the individuals be of Irish birth or ancestry. The constitution of the B.I.S. is based on three principles of charity, benevolence and philanthropy.

As the seal and motto the members of the BIS chose the figure of St. Patrick bearing the cross surrounded by the inscription – “he that gives to the poor, lends to the Lord.”

The Benevolent Irish Society was unique in that it was nonsectarian and offered assistance to the needy regardless of their religion. The founders of the Society were among the first generation of permanent residents in Newfoundland. They included politicians, businessmen and clergy who played significant roles in the political, economic and spiritual growth of the developing colony.

Membership continues to be open to adult residents of Newfoundland who are of Irish birth or ancestry, regardless of religious persuasion.

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives  take some time to look at MG 612  the BIS  collection  it consists of minutes of  the BIS (1822-1933, 1938-1970, 1973-1979); agendas (1964-1970); Centenary Volume (1806-1906); loan receipts (1905-1906); journal (1910-1920); cash book (1920-1931); ledger (1939-1944).

Recommended Museum Exhibit:  take some time to see : Talamh an Éisc – The Fishing Ground , an exhibition  at The Rooms, that introduces the Irish peoples who have been in Newfoundland and Labrador since the late 1600s, the exhibit explores the communities they built and celebrates the contributions they made to life here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Join the Irish Newfoundland Association (INA) at the Bella Vista, Torbay Road,  St. John’s at 8:00 p.m.   $20.00   for their annual St. Patrick’s Day Entertainment and Dance. Two great traditional groups – Middle Tickle  and the Freels.  For more: http://irishnewfoundlandassociation.ca/irish-newfoundland-week-2015-events/