Lammas Fair

‘Lammas Fair’ – the musical

The start of harvest festival at the end of summer was the most joyful celebration of the year in old Ireland. These days it is all but forgotten. Known as Bron Trogain, then Lughnasa and more lately by the English name of Lammas, the festival kept alive  traditions going back to the Neolithic era. Ancient Irish myths tell of agricultural deities who helped to tend the crops. At the change of seasons, having to give up their tenure – with a fight! – they go back into their underworld home for the winter, taking the tithes of the new grain (once collectively called ‘corn’). There are echoes of the powerful Greek myth of Demeter’s journey into the underworld.

Dark underworld gods could find no place in the new Christian pantheon, which was able to absorb much of Ireland’s original mythos. The most popular god (Crom Dubh) was doomed to be totally mis-represented and then largely forgotten, until the Folklore Commission sent out surveys to school children to gather information about the harvest traditions. The children were able to gain first hand accounts from their elders and the result of the massive study is the mighty tome ‘Lughnasa’ by Mairie MacNeill in the 1960s (and recently republished).

Local author Alanna Moore was amazed that these stories are virtually unknown to the average Irish today. Intrigued and beguiled by the accounts in the book, she became determined to tell the story in song, as once the deeds of the gods would have been so celebrated across the Emerald Isle.

Alanna has many Irish ancestors and is married to Irish architect Peter Cowman. The particular harvest myth featured in the musical is from Alanna’s ancestral Dreaming place in County Limerick.

6pm Tuesday 5 April and Thursday 7th April at the Tea Rooms

$10 full / $5 concession