By Kathy Ryder
A day I looked forward to every year when I was a child was May 16th, the pattern day. It was the day after my birthday, but it always felt more like my birthday than the 15th did.
The schools in the immediate vicinity got the day off, which, was in itself, pretty exciting. We looked forward to it for weeks, counting the days and trying to hang on to whatever little money we had.
The pattern was held beside Cillín (Killeen) cemetery overlooking Clew Bay and had a St Brendan’s well right on the shoreline. My grandparents, as well as an aunt, who had died young a long time beforehand, were buried there. We visited their grave, said three Hail Marys and the ‘Eternal Rest’ prayer, but not another thought went their way on that particular day.
Other patterns nearby had children’s sports as part of their celebrations, but we did not have any during the years that I frequented it.
Most years, Mike (Reilly), a local man arrived with his horse and the cart full of sweets and set up shop near the cemetery. He must have been a kind soul, as he wasn’t a shopkeeper, but bought the carts’ contents for us children to brighten our day, and so that we would have more than holy wells and dead relatives to dwell on.