Archive for June 4, 2018

Lá Saoire i mí Mheitheamh

Posted in Biographical, History, Maynooth, Uncategorized with tags , , , on June 4, 2018 by telescoper

So here I am, in Maynooth, on my birthday. I’ve made such an impression here in Ireland since I arrived that they’ve declared this day a national holiday so I’ve got the day off.

The June Bank Holiday (Lá Saoire i mí Mheitheamh) in Ireland is actually the equivalent of last week’s late May Bank Holiday in the UK, in that both have their origin in the old festival of Whitsuntide (or Pentecost) which falls on the 7th Sunday after Easter. Because the date of Easter moves around in the calendar so does Whit Sunday, but it is usually in late May or early June. When the authorities decided to fix a statutory holiday at this time of year, presumably to reduce administrative difficulties, the UK went for late May and Ireland for early June. Whit Sunday was actually on 20th May this year.

Incidentally, when I was a lad, ‘Whit Week’ was always referred to as ‘Race Week’. Geordie Ridley’s famous music hall song The Blaydon Races begins “I went to Blaydon Races, ’twas on the 9th of June, Eighteen Hundred and Sixty Two on a summer’s afternoon…”. Easter Sunday fell on 20th April in 1862, so Whit Sunday was on 8th June. After raucous scenes at the Blaydon Races, they were scrapped and replaced with a Temperance Festival on the Town Moor in Newcastle which evolved into one of the largest open-air funfairs in Europe, The Hoppings.

Anyway, with this birthday, I have now reached the minimum retirement age in the UK university pension scheme, so I could start drawing my pension when I leave Cardiff University next month. For a time I was planning to do that, but Ireland has given me a new lease of life, so to speak, so thoughts of retirement have receded.

Today also represents a short hiatus before our formal Exam Board meeting tomorrow, then I’ll be back in Cardiff for exam business there. And next week I’ll be in neither Cardiff nor Maynooth…

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