Oíche Shamhna

Ashes are sometimes scattered in front of the fire on this night. If, in the morning, there are tracks of horse-shoes on the ashes that is a sign that you will get rich. If there are not, that is a sign that you will never be (very) rich.

A person places two nuts beside each other, his own name on one and a girl’s name on the other. If they are to get married the nuts will move closer together. If not to get married the nuts will move further asunder.

If a man on going into a cabbage plot at night pulls a head with a straight stem, he will marry a straight woman; if he pulls a head with a crooked stem he will marry a crooked woman (literally or figuratively?)

If a man goes to a well and holds a mirror over the well, he will see ‘moons’, the number of which represents the number of years that will elapse before he gets married.

Sometimes the people make ‘cally’ on November Night. The old people say that it is right to leave the first bit for the fairies. The young boys and girls go into cabbage gardens and pull cabbage. They then go along the roads and throw the cabbage about. Some others go from door to door listening to the old people telling stories. The young children stay inside and play games. They take three plates, having clay on one, spring water in another and a ring in the third. All having been blindfolded, each in turn tries his or her luck in placing the hand into one of the plates. The first that gets the ring will get married first, he who puts his hand in the water will cross the sea first and he who puts his hand in the clay will be first to die.

Wheels are often taken off carts on this night and placed on some other person’s cart. Heads of cabbage are often hung on knobs and knockers of doors.

Púcóg, snap-apple, ducking and telling all sorts of fairy and ghost stories are also widely practised on this night.

A person washes his shirt and hangs it on a chair to dry. Then he goes out and the person he is to marry comes in and turns it. When everybody else has left the house, except one boy or girl, he or she sets the table for two. Then he or she sits down to eat and the person whom he or she is to marry comes in and sits at the table with him or her.

Sometimes a person puts clean water in one basin, dirty water in another and clay in a third. If a person puts his hand in the clean water he will have a long healthy, happy life. If he puts his hand in the dirty water he will have an unhealthy, unhappy life. If he puts his hand in the clay he will be married before the end of the year. (A decided variant of the usual version).

On November Night all the fairies exchange dwelling places with one another. On their journey during the ‘change-over’ they are often hungry and the people make ‘ceallaigh’ and leave it out for them to eat. When passing the way they eat it.

People believe that if they put a pullet’s egg under their heads on November Night they will dream of the man they are going to marry.

The old people say that ‘colcannon’ should always be made on November Night and some of it left outside for the fairies. They also say that haws should not be eaten after that night as the fairies have done something to them during their travels. On this night begins the annual ologóns and weepings and wailings of the colony of fairies that live behind Cnoc Meadha, seven miles S.E. of Tuam and which continues throughout the month of November.

Collector: Dónal de Grás

Informant: Dónal Ó Concatha, Baile na gCloch, Cluain Mionda

Source: Folio 952, Pages 18-21, Irish Folklore Main Manuscript Collection