John Corbett with a selection of memories of life in the Irish countryside

In olden days, August marked the beginning of the great festival of Lúnasa in honour of the pagan god, Lugh Lámhfhada. The Irish name for August is Lúnasa, which roughly translates as ‘the meeting in honour of Lugh’.

Lugh was said to be leader of Tuatha de Danann and King of Ireland. According to legend, he was a skilled craftsman and one of his offspring is said to be Cuchulann, the mythical warrior, who guarded the court of Conor MacNessa, and who fought against Ferdia during an Táin Bó Cuailne.

Legend also suggests that Lugh’s mother, Tailtiu died on August the first, and was buried at Teltown near Kells in County Meath. It is believed that Lugh oganised a great festival to commemorate her passing; so that is the main reason why the feast of Lúnasa is at the beginning of the month.

Hilltops, mountains, and riverbanks are the main locations to celebrate Lúnasa. Festivities included feasts with the newly harvested crops, making of bread, entertainment with music and dance, match-making, trading and competitive sporting games, most notably the Tailteann Games where there would have been displays of wrestling, spear throwing, running, long and high jump and horse racing. There were also contests of storytelling and gold-smithery.

In 1953, a group which included Joe Christle and his brother, organised an All-Ireland bicycle race called Rás Tailteann under the auspices of the National Cycling Association, which attracted athletes from many parts of the country and which had been sponsored in recent years by An Post.

Joe lectured in Law in The College of Commerce in Rathmines, which was directed at that time by Patrick Crowley, whose parents came from Labasheeda in Co. Clare. Joe and his fellow lecturers encouraged their charges to be proactive and not to shrink from any of life’s challenges and we believed that we were very fortunate to have such a talented and unassuming group directing us.
The Christle brothers were involved in a variety of sports.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own