I think this is the first year in which I have ever heard the cuckoo before Easter, but then Easter is seldom as late as it was this year. May Day came just a week after Easter Sunday. Here in Carna it brought another festival, Féile Joe Éinniú, in memory of one of the greatest sean-nós singers of them
all, a man whose store of English ballads probably equalled the number of Irish songs he picked up from his parents, family and neighbours.
His style of singing impressed the Dubliners and the Clancy brothers. It is interesting to think of Liam Clancy being influenced by Seosamh Ó hÉanaigh and he himself influencing Bob Dylan.
I am not suggesting that 'blowing in the wind' blew all the way from Carna, but it is interesting that a style of singing that seemed to be on its last legs a quarter of a century ago is being taken up by many young people, as is sean-nós dancing.
As I write this I don't know what effect a small initiative to revive the notion of the flowers of May in honour of Mary, mother of Jesus on May Day will have. I invited families to set a flower or plant or shrub around the local church in Mary's honour and in memory of their dead.
Rather than going to expense, I suggested a root or a slip from a rose or other flower that has been in their family for generations. I have always liked the old roses that grew around the doors of thatched cottages, which remind us more of those who put them there than even their headstones in the cemetery do.
I still see some of them grow outside the ruins of houses long replaced by more comfortable dwellings. Those old walls carry many memories as well as good ghosts of the great people who made their lives and livelihoods there.
By the time this article is published I hope Lá Bealtaine (May Day) will have become Lá na mBláth (the day of the flowers.)
The cuckoo didn't seem to bring the traditional gairfean na cuaiche (the cuckoo's squall) with her this year, although there were a few nasty enough squalls some weeks earlier, one of which drove a freighter on to the rocks at Rossaveal.
Closer to home it made firewood of my picnic table, which I had just brought out for the hopefully long hot summer. Generally speaking the weather has been excellent, the payoff for a cold, frosty and snowy winter seeming to be a natural summer.
For many years there did not seem to be much difference between summer and winter, but for the past two we seem to be getting more natural seasons. We could put up with the harsh frost from time to time if the sun shone when it should.
Now that Easter is over and the long and hopefully balmy evenings stretch out in front of us, a clergyperson's thoughts tend to turn to clerical changes in the forthcoming not-so-merry-go-round. After just a year in Carna I feel that I have a certain immunity for this and a number of coming years. I have barely recovered from last year's change from Tourmakeady, so I intend to keep my head down and watch the tooing and froing from a distance. I don't envy anyone who has to face packing bag and baggage and upping sticks to another parish. Between the emotional break involved and the physical sorting and shifting of a houseful of books and baggage, once a decade should be enough for anyone.