The night stretches – Lughnasa brings a noticeable shortening of the days

The festival of Lughnasa, marking the beginning of the harvest and the end of summer, might well be a prehistoric celebration. One of the most noticeable aspects of this time of year is the noticeable contraction of the days, and the lengthening of night.

Undoubtedly, you've heard the common Irish utterance, heard in late winter and spring, which goes "Grand stretch in the evenings"! This relates, of course, to the lengthening days and the noticeable extra daylight in the evening time.

However, there might have been a similar phrase uttered around Lughnasa (occurring now) in relation to the fact that the days are now noticeably contracting, and the nights are getting longer.

In her epic study 'The Festival of Lughnasa', Máire MacNeill makes reference to a tradition from Cape Clear Island off Cork (the most southerly place in Ireland) reported by Ciarán O Síocháin, in which the locals said of Lughnasa Day (the first day of the season of reaping the harvest), "Summer over: today is Lughna Day, the night stretches".

The photo shows the setting sun viewed from Rath na Seanad (Rath of the Synods) at the Hill of Tara, looking towards the distant hills of Slieve na Calliagh (Loughcrew), taken on Monday evening last.

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This page was last updated on 4th August 2018 @ 12:35 PM