Memories of Scattery Island

Caoimhin Ó' Danachair National Folklore Collection UCD

Having spent summers and Christmas holidays on Scattery Island, as a young lad, with family the following are some of this young man’s memories from those halcyon days and seasons within.

One of the traditions that the young boys of the island practiced was going on the wren on St. Stephen’s Day during the Christmas holidays. The girls didn’t take part in this activity, they went out instead on St. Bridget’s Day. The wren boys on Scattery Island, unlike those on the mainland, made their rounds early in the morning generally from around 6am and finishing around 8am. The wren was hidden in a furze bush by the children doing the rounds and the Islanders generously gave the wren boys money when they called to the houses singing about the king of all birds.

There were fireworks brought on to the island once as recalled, in the 1950’s. The man who brought them was married to Jack Brennan’s daughter and was visiting the island at the time. The fireworks display was a big event and was watched by all on the island.

In the summer the young boys spent a lot of time hunting rabbits. They gathered in the evenings, after their chores were done, at various meeting points on Scattery. These varied including, St. Senan’s bed, Ard na nAingeal, the Corcas, the Castle and the Well road. When the older boys met up, they would be returning from their trips to sea and would exchange stories from foreign shores and time spent shipping, while the younger boys listened on looking forward to the time when they too could go to sea. The sea was a way of life on the island, it was obviously a physical presence but beyond this, it was a spiritual presence in the blood.The sea was a force to be admired, respected and loved.

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