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Whit Sunday, the 7th Sunday after Easter is notorious for bad luck, strange superstitions, and a complete avoidance of water. 

Whit Sunday - Ireland's Unluckiest Day

Whit Sunday, also known as Pentecost, is a Christian holiday celebrated on the seventh Sunday after Easter, commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ. While it is generally regarded as a joyous occasion in the Christian tradition, in Irish folklore it is a day full of bad luck!

  1. Avoidance of Water: Water was deemed especially dangerous on this day with children and adolescents not to approach rivers, lakes, or the sea. Entering water any deeper than the ankle dept would result in drowning. Fishing and sailing were also forbidden for similar reasons. In contrast, holy water blessed on Whit Sunday was thought to be particularly powerful and could ‘cure’ many illnesses.

  2. Birth of Children: Any child or animal born on this day was known as cingcíse and it was predicted they would kill or be killed. Other reports would predict these children or animals were of cross temperaments, dangerous, and wild. Thankfully there were a few remedies such as placing a tiny insect in the hand of a child and letting him/she crush it. Animals born on this day would always be sold as they were said to be "unlucky".

  3. Increase in Accidents: It was believed that any ventures or new undertakings begun on this day were doomed to fail. This could stem from a general wariness of doing anything significant on major religious holidays meant for rest and worship rather than work.

  4. Sickness: It is believed if you got sick on this day, you'd be sick for the rest of the year. Sick people were not to be left alone at this time and certainly not left in the dark. The light was very important in guarding the sick against the evil spirits of Whitsuntide, as was fire.

  5. Evil Spirits: Mischievous spirits and fairies were particularly active on this day. Engaging in important activities during this time could invite bad luck or supernatural interference. Endless amounts of Holy Water were sprinkled in the home and on the farm to counteract the increased activity.

The Schools' Collection compiled in the 1930s provides a great local history resource for anyone interested in researching myths, legends, and history in a very local context. As part of the school's curriculum children aged between 11 and 14 were invited to research stories about over 55 themes, one of which was cures. The children would enlist the help of their parents,  grandparents, and, even neighbors to complete their research. Once ready each student presented a copybook of their research to their teacher who compiled a master book for each class.

These stories provide a rich insight into what life was like at the time and also important genealogical information such as the name of the student, age, and address coupled with names addresses, and occupations of those who helped with the research. You can browse the 'weekly pick' here. 

We've gathered some of our favorite entries regarding Whit Sunday below. 

  •  A foal born on Whit Sunday is considered unlucky, and it is believed he will cause somebody's death. Children born on Whit Sunday are believed to be awkward. People do not bathe on Whit Sunday. (Volume 0055, Page 0121).

  • If you take an ailment on whit Sunday, you never will get better. (Volume 0137B, Page 31_056)

  • Whit Sunday is an unlucky day to be born. It is said any person born on Whit Sunday would commit Murder. It is also said if any person would sleep out on a Whit Sunday he would get silly. If you bathe on Whit Sunday and take pains you will never get better. (Volume 0190, Page 129)

  • Whit Sunday is an unlucky day for fishing. Three men from Falcanagh went out to fish on Whit Sunday. They had just begun when one of them saw a black rabbit which he followed. When he came back he found that the other two were drowned. (Volume 1085, Page 102)

  • It is said that it isn't right to dirty the water on Whit Sunday. On Whit Sunday people bring bottles of holy water home and shake it on their crops to make them grow better.(Volume 0138D, Page 17_010)

  • Whit Sunday. It is unlucky to wet your feet above your ankles. It is not right to shave on Whit Sunday. If you do not bring in Whit Sunday water you will not have luck for the year. New years day. (Volume 0152, Page 375)

  • On Whit Sunday a certain meal is taken. It is called Flummery, (the direction is given)he Schools’ Collection, Volume 0168, Page 066

  • Whit Sunday is called the "Cross Day" of the year. Nobody should go bathing or swimming on that day. (Volume 0184, Page 0082)

  • Whit Sunday - White Sunday as the early converts had to wear white on first entering the church - hence it got its name White Sunday. Also, the Holy Spirit came to inspire the Apostles on this day. Nowadays Whit is looked on as a holiday time and excursions and sport only is thought of. This is a pagan idea and very un-Irish. (Volume 0863, Page 292)

  • Any person born on Whit Sunday is called a "cinghcise" and if you get a kick from that person you will be marked for life.
    On Easter Sunday we eat a lot of eggs because it is the feast of eggs, and it is said if you get up early you will see the sun dancing. (Volume 0673, Page 038).

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