Friday the 13th is traditionally a very unlucky day.
Here at Millmount, that got us thinking about luck; in particular bad luck and in Ireland we have our own special type of it called a “Piseog”.
“Piseogs are evil magic, the working of badness on your neighbours or the taking away of his luck to add to your own luck.”, described by Eddie Lenihan, the famous storyteller and author.
Some piseogs were performed with good intentions but most seem to have been a way to get revenge on your neighbour by cursing them with Bad Luck.
Here are some of the more evil piseogs that were practised:
✦ To ruin a man’s crop, place raw meat in his field.
✦ To ensure that your enemies cattle only produce stillborn or diseased calves pierce an egg with a needle, then rub it on a stillborn calf and place the egg in his hay so that the cattle will eat the hay and absorb the curse.
✦ Placing a cursed three legged stool in your enemies shed or milking parlour will drain their herd dry of milk.
✦ If the fairies aren’t happy that a neighbour has built a new house on their land, place an egg on the pathway and hope that they break it.
✦ To reduce your neighbour’s crop and increase your own, place raw eggs on his land.
It was also said that piseogs are stronger in May, so on May Eve (April 30th), people did their best to protect against them.
✦ Boys were dressed as girls so the fairies could not take them away. Boys were highly prized by the fairies especially strong, handsome lads.
✦ A red ribbon would be placed around the necks of cows to ward off bad luck and to protect them from being cursed.
✦ From midnight to dawn was the most dangerous time to be cursed and farmers stayed up all night to try and protect their land.
✦ On May Eve women would creep onto the neighbours land at dawn and mop the dew off the grass to use later for evil purposes.
So please tell us about any other piseogs you might know of or if you have any stories or interesting facts we always love to hear them.
Wishing you all the Best of Luck this Friday the 13th in May 2016!
(Millmount Museum, Drogheda, Co. Louth, Facebook page)
Sources: www.eddielenihan.weebly.com, Land of the Fairies, Irish Independent, 29/09/12, Land blessing tradition survives as farmers seek to ward off piseogs, Irish Independent, Caitriona Murphy, 03/05/2011
www.spookyisles.com, Piseóg – The Curse of the Irish?, Ann O’Regan, 18th September 2013