Prayer vigil for fine weather as farmers queue for fodder

A 24-hour prayer vigil for fine weather has been held on the Kerry-Cork border.

The vigil in Rathmore, in the shadow of the Paps mountains — ancient symbols of fertility called after the breasts of Anu — took place in the worst May in living memory in the area and attracted hundreds of people.

The vigil, which finished on Thursday, was held at St Joseph’s parish church and was at the request of the people of the area, said parish priest Fr Pat O’Donnell.

Over the past few weeks, Rathmore has been dominated by tractors and trailers lining up for fodder from early morning until late in the evening and the sight of farmers desperate for feed for their animals has moved local people, the priest said.

“Some people joined up at 8am and didn’t get to leave the queue until 5pm,” said Fr O’Donnell.

“The message the people want to send to the farmers is you are not alone.”

That message may indeed have been heard by the gods as, according to the Met Office, there is better weather ahead for next week.

Met Éireann promises that there will be “a lot of dry weather for the coming week and possibly quite warm in many parts for the first few days. The last of the rain will clear on Sunday morning and sunny spells will develop in most areas.

“It’ll be milder than recently, with temperatures recovering to more normal values for the time of year, though it will stay cooler in the southern and eastern coastal regions due to moderate onshore east or southeast winds. Further inland, winds will be mainly light.”

The Rathmore area is rich in folklore and is surrounded by ancient monuments, including wells. May and the coming of summer is particularly celebrated, with prayer rounds of wells and other sites.

A recent lecture on foot of archaeological investigation heard how the Paps of Anu, a pair of mountains capped by two distinctive cairns several metres high, are likely to be among the world’s “sacred mountains” and part of a chain of monuments existing from ancient Ireland.

The traditional May Mass was held at the ‘City’ in the foothills of the Paps two weeks ago, and prior to the Mass many of the congregation climbed the Paps.

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