Festivals on Achill



The first time St. Patrick’s Day was introduced as a national holiday was in 1903. When Emily arrived back in Ireland in 1906, the holiday was in its infancy. There were no parades as such, pubs were closed as it was a holy day, and people celebrated mostly by attending church. But in Achill that was not the case. It might have been a sober day but it did not prevent the festival atmosphere. An article that appeared in the Mayo News on March 30th 1907:

La Fheile Padraig in Dooagh!
Concert and Play a Magnificent Success!
St. Patrick’s Day was fittingly celebrated in Dooagh. In the early morning a large procession headed by the village band and waving some beautiful banners marched to the chapel playing national airs all along the route. Mass was celebrated by Rev. D. Greeney CC, who preached an eloquent sermon on the life and mission of our National apostle. The Acts as well as the Rosary were recited in Irish. In the evening the venue was Dooagh National school where an Irish Ireland concert and play was met with almost unbounded success notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather.!

The unprecedented success of the entertainment was chiefly if not wholly, due to the energy activity and perseverance of Mrs. Weddall, Miss McWilliams, Miss Grey, Miss McCabe, the Misses Callaghans and a host of other ladies, upon who it reflected great credit. To them and to their lieutenant all the Irish Irelanders of the parish extended the most heartfelt thanks and trust their net endeavor in that direction will be more successful still. The committee in charge of the arrangements are deeply indebted to Mr McGreevey, Balla and Mr Fitzhenry, League organiser for their kindness in lending scenery and other decorations.!

The success of St. Patrick’s day led on to other Irish cultural festivals on the Island, especially “Under the auspices of the Gaelic League”. Emily and/or other members of the local branch of the League did the fundraising and organised them at various locations and times of the year. It was also the early days of tourism and such events attracted the people who attended cultural events.

A Gaelic League event advertised in the Cliadheamh Soulis in 1907

A Gaelic League event advertised in the Cliadheamh Soulis in 1907

Mayo News, March 30 1907. Page 4
Cliadheamh Soulis 7 June 1907. P 7