The Traditional Irish Wedding Page!

No matter how you plan your wedding it will be yours and it will be wonderful! We believe in flexibility and the ability to personalize. In the Irish tradition there are so many choices. Celtic Weddings, Irish Peasant Weddings and fancy Dublin Georgian weddings with crystal and lace to name but a few. You can also combine traditions. 
We are concerned here with the Traditional Irish Wedding Customs. These have been gathered up from all over Ireland and from all different periods. See what suits you!
What you will not find here is the emphasis upon commercial sources which dominates so many guides. We do not want to sell you stuff that you can easily make yourself. We are not directing you to businesses. We direct you to tradition. We want you to be able to discover the traditions of your ancestors and of your family. Once you have found them then, you can explore the commercial world. But one reminder: The traditional Irish wedding did not require a single outside company or contractor to be a success. Traditional celebrations strengthened the family and culture as all pitched in to make their own contributions. Consider this rich path to your special celebration. Above all! Have fun and make your day a special one! Let us know how it went! Click to send  us e.mail. Also- let us know how you liked this page!  For our other works click here
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Play the Irish Wedding Song as you read! Click Here

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It has much more content purchase it here- click here 
Don't get married in the Irish Tradition  without one!
This is the only thing we sell here- but we do so 
only because of demand! So many requests! 
(beware of guides filled with references to stores and merchandise!)
And we have kept it simple and inexpensive so 
everyone can have one!It 
extends these pages with much more information.



Main Menu of the Irish Wedding Pages!

"Más mian leat cáineadh pós, Más mian leat moladh faigh bás."
If you want to be blamed get married if you want to be praised - drop dead!
-Old Irish Proverb
A few opening words in Irish Gaelic! click here
Play the Irish Wedding Song as you read! Click Here

Flann O'Brien On  Before and Without!  Running Away  Capture  Divination  Lady Wilde Describes an early Wedding
Courtship/Arrangement  The Wedding  The Strawboys  Couvade of Widows  Scottish Weddings!
Express your love
in Irish Gaelic!
Selecting the Date A few Romantic Poems Irish Wedding Cake A good 19th century source

A few opening words in Irish Gaelic!
An bpósfaidh tú mé? Will you marry me?
Pósfaimis! Let's get  married!
Engaged to be maried--Tá mé geallta do--(name)
Lámh is focal a thabhairt dá chéile-- to be betrothed to each other
"I do"-- Gabhaim agus glaicim é (or í) mar c(h)éile
 fáinne pósta -- wedding ring
When you are married and have a large family: Tá mé pósta agus céasta. (I'm married and

Flann O'Brien takes a Humorous look at the process....

The Poor Mouth

Chapter 6

"After pondering the matter(marriage) for another year, I approached the Old-Fellow once more.

-Honest fellow! Said I, I'm two years waiting now without a wife and I don't think I'll ever do any good without one. I'm afraid the neighbors are mocking me. Do you think is there any help for the fix I'm in or will I be all alone until the day of my death and everlasting burial?

Boy! Said the Old-Fellow. 'Twould be necessary for you to know some girl.

If that's the way, I replied, where do you think the best girls are to be got?

In the Rosses without a doubt!

The Sea-cat entered my mind and I became a little worried. However, there is little use denying the truth and I trusted the Old-fellow.

If 'tis that way, said I in a bold voice. I'll go to the Rosses tomorrow to get a woman.

The Old-Fellow was dissatisfied with this kind of thing and endeavored for a while to coax me from the marriage-fever that had come upon me but, of course, I had no desire to break the resolution which was fixed for a year in my mind. He yielded finally and informed my mother of the news.

-Wisha! Said she, the poor creature!

If he manages to get a woman out of the Rosses, said the Old-Grey Fello, how do we know but that she'll have a dowry?

Wouldn't the likes of that be a great help to us at present in this house when the spuds are nearly finished and the last drop reached in the end of he bottle with us?

I wouldn't say that you haven't the truth of it! Said my mother.

They decided at last to yield completely to me. The Old Fellow said that he was acquainted with a man in Wweedore who had a nice curly-headed daughter who was as yet, unmarried although the young men from the two sandbanks were all about her, frenzied with eagerness to mary. Her father was name d Jams O'Donnell and Mabel was the maiden's name. I said that I would be satisfied to accept her.

The following day the Old-Fellow put a five noggin bottle in his pocket and both of us set out in the direction of Gweedore. IN the middle of the afternoon we reached that townland after a good walk while the daylight was still in the heavens. Suddenly the Old-fellow halted and sat down by the roadside.

Are we yet near the habitation and enduring home of the gentleman, Jams O'Donnell? Asked I softly and quietly, querying the Old-Fellow.

-We are! Said he. There is his house over yonder.

Fair enough, said I. Come on till we settle the deal and get our evening spuds. There's a sharp hunger on my hunger.

Little son! Said the Old-fellow sorrowfully, I'm afraid that you don't understand the world. T'is said in the good books that describe the affairs of the Gaelic paupers that its in the middle of the night that two men come visiting if they have a five-noggin bottle and are looking for a woman. Therefore we must sit here until the middle of the night comes.

But 'twill be wet tonight. The skies above are full.

Never mind! There's no use for us trying to escape from fate, oh, bosom friend!

We did not succeed in escaping that night either from fate or the rain. We were drenched into the skin and to the bones. When we reached Jams O'Donnell's floor finally, we were completely saturated, water running from us freely, wetting both Jams and his house as well as everything and living creature present. We quenched the fire and it had to be rekindled nine times.

Mabel was in bed(or had gone to her bed) but there is no necessity for me to describe the stupid conversation carried on by the Old-Fellow and Jams when they were discussing the question of the match. All the talk is available in the books which I have mentioned previously. When we left Jams at the bright dawn of day, the girl was betrothed to me and the Old Fellow was drunk. We reached Corkadoragha at the midhour of the day and were well satisfied with the night's business....."---From:The Poor Mouth.Flann O'Brien,Trans Patrck Power,Viking,New York,1973.pp.79-84

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Before and without arrangement!

From:Curious Customs of Sex and Marriage., George Ryley Scott, Torchstream Books,London.


An interesting reference to bundling as practiced in Ireland occurs in a book entitled The Stranger in Ireland, written by John Carr, who says:" One evening, at an inn where we halted we heard a considerable bustle in the kitchen, and , upon inquiry, I was let into a secret worth knowing. The landlord had been scolding one of his maids, a very pretty plump little girl, for not having done her work; and the reason which she alleged for her idleness was, that her master having locked the street door at night, had prevented her lover enjoying the rights and delights of bundling, an amatory indulgence which, considering that it is sanctioned by custom, may be regarded as somewhat singular, although it is not exclusively of Welsh growth. The process is very simple: the gay Lothario, when all is silent, steals into the chamber of his mistress, who receives him in bed, but with the modest precaution of wearing her under petticoat, which is always fastened at the bottom, not infrequently, I am told by a sliding know. It may astonish a London gallant to be told that this extraordinary experiment often ends in a downright wedlock- the know which cannot slide. A gentleman of respectability also assured me that he was obliged to indulge his female servants in these nocturnal interviews, and that, too, at all hours of the night, otherwise his whole family would be thrown into disorder by their neglect; the carpet would not be dusted nor would the kettle boil."

Richard Twiss, in his book A tour in Ireland in 1775, also says that bundling was prevalent among the common people in some parts of Ireland; and as evidence of a similar custom existing in Holand quotes the following passage from the travels of Van Egmont and Heyman....

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Express your love in Irish Gaelic

      A rún! (uh ROON) lit.,                       O! love!
     A ghrá! (uh GHRAW) lit.,                  O! love!
     A chumann! (uh KHU-muhn) lit.,      O! affection!
     A mhuirnín! (uh WOOR-neen) lit.,    O! sweetheart!
     A chroí! (uh KHREE) lit.,                  O! heart!
     A chuisle! (uh KHWISH-luh) lit.,       O! pulse!
     A stór! (uh STOHR) lit.,                     O! treasure!
     A thaisce! (uh HASH-kyuh) lit.,         O! treasure!
     A chiste! (uh HISH-chuh) lit.,             O! treasure chest!
     A rún mo chroí!                                O! love of my heart!
     A chuisle mo chroí!                         O! pulse of my heart!
     A chiste is a stór!                            O! treasure chest and treasure!
     A mhuirnín dílis!                               O! true sweetheart!

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Running away....

In Ireland at one time it was considered fitting, according to Sampson, hat the groom should "run away with the bride."

Jeaffreson(1872) in his interesting work Brides and Bridals, mentions a curious practice observed some tow centuries ago in West Meath, in which a number of the bridegroom's friends approached the bride's party, when it was usual "to make a sportive show of hostility to the cavaliers who advanced on horseback for the purpose of surrendering her to her hands. "Being come near each other" said Piers, "the custom was of old to cast short darts at the company that attended the bride, but at such distance that seldom any hurt ensued. Today it is not out of the memory of man that the Lord of Hoath on such an occasion lost an eye."

From the accounts of contemporary writers it is apparent that in connection with these Irish weddings, however good might be the match, it was thought little of if the bridegroom did not first seize and carry off the bride. The couple spent some days, marked by jollification, among friends of the bridegroom, and then returned to the home of the bride's parents. Here they were visited by relations and friends laden with gifts, for the most part consisting of bottles of whisky, as contributions to a second jollification; on the conclusion of which the couple proceeded to their new home, to commence their married life together.

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Ancient capture....

That the practice(of marriage by capture) was of great antiquity in Ireland is indicated by an old poem of that country, Duan Gircanash, which makes reference to three hundred women being carried off into enforced marriage by the Picts from the Gaels. ON of the verses narrates:

Cruithne, son of Cuig, took their women from them--

It is directly stated--

Except Tea, wife of Hermion,

Son of Miledh.

Finding themselves thus deprived of their women, the Gaels finally made an alliance with the aboriginal tribes of Ireland, as we are told in he following quatrian:

There were no charming noble wives

For their young men;

Their women having been stolen, they made alliance

With the Tuatha Dea.

From: Strange Customs of Courtship and Marriage by William J. Fielding, The New Home Library,New York. P. 239.

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Before we get to When? or Who?
Perhaps we should take care of if!
Just prepare and eat the recipes below and you should be all right! (then read on)

“Boxty on the griddle,
Boxty in the pan,
If you don’t eat Boxty you’ll never get a man”

Boxty Bread


1 lb. Raw Potatoes
1 lb. (4 cups) flour
salt and pepper
1 lb. (2 cups) cooked well mashed potatoes
40z. (1/4 cup) melted butter/bacon fat.


1. Peel raw potatoes-grate and put onto a clean cloth/towel
2.Gather up the cloth and twist it wringing liquid out- catch liquid in a bowl.
3.Put grated potatoes into another bowl
4. Place hot cooked mashed potatoes over the raw grated ones.
5. The starch will settle to the bottom of the potato liquid. When this happens pour off the water and scrape the starch into the potato mixture.
6. Mix completely and add the flour, salt and pepper.  Last add the butter/fat.
7. Knead and roll the mixture on a floured board.
8. Shape into round flat cakes.  Cut a cross over each making them into quarters or “Farls”
9. Bake on a greased baking sheet at 300 degrees for about   40 minutes
10. Split and serve hot with real! Butter.

Boxty On the Griddle
Make the same recipe as above adding
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Enough milk to make a dropping batter
Cook these on a moderately hot griddle until brown on both sides-
serve with butter and sprinkle with sugar.
Also traditional at All Hallow’s Eve

Who and When shall it be?

Irish women have many customs which predict the one to marry. One method is to boil an egg hard, remove the yolk, fill the cavity with salt, and eat the whole of it. Then go to bed without speaking or drinking anything. If the Lover appears in a dream, offering water ot quench the maiden's thirst, he is to be accounted faithless. The "faggot charm" is to go on Hallowe'en or midsummer Eve at midnight to the woodstack, and draw out a stick. If it is straight and event,y our husband will be gentle and kindly; if knotted, he will be churlish; and if bent and twisted, a crabbed old man.

The nutshell charm is a very old one. Take two nuts (generally chestnuts) and name them silently-one for yourself and one for your lover. Place them on the bars of the fire and watch. If they burn quietly and steadily, you will gain a faithful love; if your companion nut jumps away from you, you will be disappointed; and if your own nut should move, your love will pass.
Do not miss all of the Divinations on our main marriage Divination Page Click Here

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Courtship and Arrangement

The most traditional of Irish weddings follows a match made for economic and political purposes by the father of the groom. The father chooses from one of his son for a son to be married. His choice is important as the son to be married will inherit the farm. In early

times the land could be and was subdivided endlessly so that all received a portion. This

practice was forbidden as small land holdings became uneconomical and land scarce. Later it was the obligation of the farmer to "settle" only one son "on the land".

A young man looking for a young lady would work through his friends and from friends to relatives with the setting for such discussions being the markets or public houses. Eventually all families become involved. Once a lady is recommended the man will send a "speaker" to her to determine her fortune and suitability. If the speaker and the woman's

family are convinced that it would be a good match the speaker will be given a go ahead to "draw it down" He returns to the young man's house and arranges a meeting between

the two fathers and the young man.

At the meeting the fist drink is called by the young man; the second by the young lady's father.

The young lady's father asks the speaker of the dowry price. The girls father inquires as to the nature of the home, the farm the livestock and the situation of the farm.

How many cows, sheep horses?. What sort of garden?, what sort of water supply?, is it far from the road? or on it? what kind of house and what sort of roof- slate or thatch? Near a chapel - a school?

If a nice place and eight cows near the road the fortune of 350 pounds may be asked. The Young lady's father offers 250 then the father throws off 50 . then the speaker divides the 50 between them so now its 275 then the young man insists on 300- but maybe he will think of it....if she is a good housekeeper. They drink until intoxicated.

After the fortune is arranged they then set a place and time for the young people to see oneanother. The young lady takes her friends,brother, mother and father. The young man takes his friends and the speaker.

If they like each other they will set a date to come see the land. If things aren't right

they simply say they do not suit not revealing details.

The day before the girls people come to see the land preparations for a feast are made.

Geese are killed the house whitewashed whiskey and porter bought. The cows are fed and sometimes cows are borrowed to make things look good.

The girls family comes and the land is walked. The young man sends his best friend to show the girls father round making sure the bad points are not shown.

If the girl's father likes the land he will join in the feast until night.

The next day they go to the attorney to get the writings between the parties concluded.

The father agrees to sign over the land. After that the wedding can go forward.

"In ancient Ireland it is said to have been the custom for the man to give the woman he wanted to marry a bracelet woven of human hair. Her acceptance of it was symbolic of accepting the man, linking herself to him for life. The use of some strands of hair in love-lockets, usually curled into a circle, has been a custom down to modern times. In the bracelet,as in the ring, we have the circle--the link symbolizing union unbroken without end" From: Strange Customs of Courtship and Marriage by William J. Fielding, The New Home Library,New York.p.26.

"The purchase of the bride was customary among the ancient Celts. In Ireland the bride-price (called coibche) consisted of various objects, such as articles of gold, silver or bronze,clothes or horse bridles cattle or swine, land or houses. Installment payment was not unusual, the husband making a yearly remittance after marriage until his obligation was fulfilled. From: Strange Customs of Courtship and Marriage by William J. Fielding, The New Home Library,New York.


"Amount the Irish peasants the professional match-maker or "cosherer" is still to be found, and some very quaint customs survive. If a girls fiancé dies, it is the custom for her to solemnly "give back her promise" before witnesses, holding the dead man's hand. There is also much fairy folklore in Ireland and it is said that if a bridegroom unbuttons one button of the right knee, the little people cannot harm him. In parts of Mayo and Leitrim there is a strange survival of a wedding dance with a straw mask or sometimes a straw petticoat. A band of nine "strawboys," as they are called, visits the bride's home on the wedding eve, and one dances with the bride and the rest with the other girls present. They are followed by nine more also masked, and it is considered unlucky if any of them are recognized."

From:A short History of Marriage By: Ethel,L.Urlin,1913,Omnigraphics, Detroit, 1990


Once when Naoisi was outside alone Deidre slipped out to him as if she were going past him and he did not recognize her.

"That's a nice heifer that's going by me," he said.

"Heifers ought to be by," she said, "wherever there are no bulls"

"You have the bull of the province," he said, meaning the King of Ulster.

"I'd choose between you, " she said ,"and take a little young bull like you."

"No," he said. "Not after Cathbad's prophecy!"

"Are you saying that because you don't want me?"

"I am surely," said he.

She made a rush at him and grabbed his two ears.

"Then two ears of shame and mockery on you," she said, "unless you take me with you."

"Go on , woman! " he said.

"You'll have it," she said.

-Annon 9th cent. Trans Frank O'Connor.

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The Wedding

The Irish Wedding Song
Play the Midi Click Here
See below for ABC notation

Here they stand hand in hand
they've exchanged wedding bands
Today is the day of their dreams and their plans,
and all we who love them just wanted to say.
May God bless this couple who married today
In good times and bad times in sickness and health
may they know that riches are not needed for wealth
and help them face problems they'll meet on their way
Oh god bless this couple who married today
May they find peace of mind comes to all who are kind
May the rough times ahead become triumphs in time
May their children be happy each day
Oh God bless this family who started today
As they go may they know every love that was shown
And as life it gets shorter may their feelings grow
Wherever they travel wherever they stay
May God bless this couple who married today
*substitute first names of bride and groom in the last line of song
as in god bless...and ....
-----Ian Betteridge

ABC Notation

T:Irish Wedding Song
F>G|:A4 F>G|A4 Bc|d4 cB|A4 z d|!
d4 c>B|A4 z d|d2c3d|e4 z f|f2 f3 f|!
e2 d3 d|d2 c3 B|A4 z d|d2 c3 B|A2 d3 g|!
f2 c3 e|d6-|d4 z A|A2 e3 e|e2 c3 d|!
d2 G3 B|A4 z A|A2 e3 e|e2 d3 d|d2 c3 d|!
e6|f2 f3 f|e2 d3 d|d2 c2 B2|A4 z d|!
d2 c3 B|A2 d3 g|f2 c3 e|d4 z d|d2 c3 B|!
A2 d3 g|f2 c3 e|1d4 F>G:|2d6||

%  ABC2Win Version 2.1 1/17/98
(Adapted from Irtrad-L archive source)

Classic Irish Romantic Poems
By all means have something to say! The Irish are famous as talkers. Pick up a few lines to add depth to your experiences.

Source: New Oxford Book of  Irish Verse, 1986

To the Virgin Mary 13th Century

                 Blue-eyed, gleaming, is your face,
                  with dark-ridged eyes over it
                  fair-branching, slender is your hand
                  I owe a poem that does not lie

                  Pure, wholesome, yellow hair,
                  a vine of curls around your head
                  round, thin-fingered, pure palm,
                  O firm- well-shaped foot

                  O curled, ridged yellow hair,
                  Mary of slender brows
                  give me no other judge
                  but the welcome of your heart

                  Let us feast to your shapely figure
                  -swift, mighty - side by side
                  Accept my best poems and songs
                  bright-languid, noble, decorous one

                  No woman but you in my home
                  its mistress may you be
                  False women and all the wealth I see
                  none of mine will pay them heed

                  Turn toward me your sole and palm
                  and your brown hair in beauty,
                  Your keen green young round eye
                  -may I fall in feast on your moist locks!

Rosin Dubh (Little Black Rose)

                 Roisin, have no sorrow for all that has
                  happened to you
                  the Friars are out on the brine,. they
                  are travelling the sea
                  your pardon from the Pope will come,
                  from Rome in the East
                  and we won't spare the Spanish wine
                  for my Roisin Dubh

                  Far have we journeyed together, since
                  days gone by.
                  I've crossed over mountains with her,
                  and sailed the sea
                  I have cleared the Erne, though in
                  spate, at a single leap
                  and like music of the strings all about
                  me, my Roisin Dubh

                  You have driven me mad, fickle girl-
                  may it do you no good!
                  My soul is in thrall, not just yesterday
                  nor today
                  You have left me weary and weak in
                  body and mind
                  O deceive not the one who loves you,
                  my Roisin Dubh

                  I would walk in the dew beside you, or
                  the bitter desert
                  in hopes I might have your affection,
                  or part of your love
                  Fragrant small branch, you have given
                  your word you love me
                  the choicest flower of Munster, my
                  Roisin Dubh
                  If I had six horses, I would plough
                  against the hill-
                  I'd make Roisin Dubh my Gospel in the
                  middle of Mass-
                  I'd kiss the young girl who would
                  grant me her maidenhead
                  and do deeds behind the lios with my
                  Roisin Dubh!

                  The Erne will be strong in flood, the
                  hills be torn
                  the ocean will be all red waves, the sky
                  all blood,
                  every mountain and bog in Ireland will
                  one day, before she shall perish, my
                  Roisin Dubh.

15th/ 16th century

                  No sickness worse than secret love
                  It's long, alas, since I pondered that
                  No more delay; I now confess
                  my secret love, so slight and slim

                  I gave a love that I can't conceal
                  to her hooded hair, her shy intent
                  her narrow brows, her blue-green eyes
                  her even teeth and aspect soft

                  I gave as well - and so declare-
                  my soul's love to her soft throat
                  her lovely voice, delicious lips
                  snowy bosom, pointed breast

                  And may not overlook, alas,
                  my cloud-hid love for her body bright
                  her trim straight foot, her slender sole,
                  her languid laugh, her timid hand

                  Allow there was never known before
                  such a love as mine for her
                  there lives not, never did, nor will,
                  one who more gravely stole my love

                  Do not torment me, lady
                  Let our purposes agree
                  You are my spouse on this Fair Plain
                  so let us embrace


                  15th/ 16th century,
                 Set that berry-coloured mouth
                  on mine, O skin like foam
                  Place that smooth and lime-white limb
                  -despite your quarrel- round me

                  Slim and delicate, be no longer
                  absent from my side
                  Slender, show me to your quilts!
                  Stretch our bodies side by side

                  As I have put away (soft thigh)
                  Ireland's women for your sake
                  likewise try to put away
                  all other men for me

                  I gave to your bright teeth
                  Immeasurable longing
                  So it is just that you should give
                  your love in the same measure.

                  Rosin Dubh (Little Black Rose)

                 Roisin, have no sorrow for all that has
                  happened to you
                  the Friars are out on the brine,. they
                  are travelling the sea
                  your pardon from the Pope will come,
                  from Rome in the East
                  and we won't spare the Spanish wine
                  for my Roisin Dubh

                  Far have we journeyed together, since
                  days gone by.
                  I've crossed over mountains with her,
                  and sailed the sea
                  I have cleared the Erne, though in
                  spate, at a single leap
                  and like music of the strings all about
                  me, my Roisin Dubh

                  You have driven me mad, fickle girl-
                  may it do you no good!
                  My soul is in thrall, not just yesterday
                  nor today
                  You have left me weary and weak in
                  body and mind
                  O deceive not the one who loves you,
                  my Roisin Dubh

                  I would walk in the dew beside you, or
                  the bitter desert
                  in hopes I might have your affection,
                  or part of your love
                  Fragrant small branch, you have given
                  your word you love me
                  the choicest flower of Munster, my
                  Roisin Dubh
                  If I had six horses, I would plough
                  against the hill-
                  I'd make Roisin Dubh my Gospel in the
                  middle of Mass-
                  I'd kiss the young girl who would
                  grant me her maidenhead
                  and do deeds behind the lios with my
                  Roisin Dubh!

                  The Erne will be strong in flood, the
                  hills be torn
                  the ocean will be all red waves, the sky
                  all blood,
                  every mountain and bog in Ireland will
                  one day, before she shall perish, my
                  Roisin Dubh.



Irish Wedding Cake!

Makes one 12"/30cm. tin
Currants 1 lb. 12 oz./800g.
Sultanas (Golden Raisins) 1lb./450g.
Raisins 9 oz./25 oz 250 g.
Shredded Almonds 7 oz./200g.
Glace Cherries 70z/200g.
Peel,cut,mixed 70z/200g.
Flour 1lb 3oz. 525 g.
Salt 1 teaspoon
Mixed Spice 2 1/2 tsp.
Butter 1lb.450g.
Rich Dark sugar 1lb.450g.
Black treacle 2 tbsp.
Orange and Lemon zest 1 1/2 tsp. each
Eggs 8 large
Vanilla essence 1 1/2 tsp.
 Brandy 4 tbsp.
cooking time: 4 1/2-5 1/2 hours


1. Grease tin and line it with three layers of greaseproof paper, extending about 2" above the top of the tin.

2. Tie a thick band of folded newspaper around the outside of the tin to protect the edge of the cake from over cooking.

3. Have a suitable sized piece of brown paper to put over the cake if it is in danger of overbrowning.

4.Cake will be cooked when a skewer put into the center comes out clean

5. Sort the fruit and remove any stalks or irregular pieces.

6. Mix fruit with halved cherries, peel and a tablespoon or two of the flour.

7. Sift flour, salt and the spices.

8. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

9. To the butter add the treacle, zests, and essences. Beat well.

10. Add the eggs, one by one with a tablespoon full of flour with each-beat well. Fold in the fruit and remaining flour plus the brandy. Mix well.

11. Turn mixture into the prepared tin and smooth down with tablespoon making a slight hollow in the center.

12.You may leave the cake over night or till ready to bake.

13.Pre heat oven to 300 degrees F., 150 degrees C, Gas mark 2 bake cake in center of the oven for 1-1/2 hours.

14. Reduce heat to 275 degrees F, 140 degrees C, Gas mark 1 for the remaining baking time or until the top of cake feels firm to the touch and skewer comes out clean and dry.

15. Watch cake as it bakes. Cover if it looks like it might overbrown.

16.Cool cooked cake in tin then remove paper and turn upside down onto a board. Make small holes into the cake with skewers and pour on some extra brandy.

17. When brandy is absorbed wrap cakes in double layer of greaseproof paper and then a layer of foil. Seal and store in airtight container and place in a cool place for at least a month. You should finish the cake about a fortnight before the wedding.

18. Cover with white Irish Royal Icing or Fondant Icing

Selecting the Date

In Ireland the last day of the old year is thought specially lucky for weddings. Childermas Day or Holy Innocents is, on the contrary, a very unlucky one.....

"Until the Eighteenth century, the Marriage law of Ireland was nearly identical with that of England, and followed by nearly the same consequences; that is, marriages were for the most part regular, but irregular marriages and pre-contracts were tolerated, and not infrequent. It was not till 1818 that pre-contracts were deprived of their efficacy; and it was not necessary until 1844 that even marriages celebrated by the established clergy should be protected by forms analogous to those prescribed by the English law as settled in 1823 and 1835. But he distinctive peculiarity of the Irish Marriage Law has long been its sectarian character, that it regulates the conditions of the contract according to religious distinctions. For, while the clergy of the Establishment were permitted to marry persons without any reference to their religious faith, the Roman Catholic clergy were restricted to persons of their own creed; and it was enacted by a well-known statute that"every marriage between a Papist, and any other person who hath been or hath professed him or herself to be a Protestant, at any time within 12 calendar months before the celebration of such marriage, or between two Protestants, by a Popish priest, shall be null and void without any judgment, process, or sentence of law." Roman Catholic priests had, however, full liberty to marry persons of their own faith as they pleased, in any irregular or clandestine way, the discipline of their Church, however, rendering this practice sufficiently uncommon. At the same time the ministers of Protestant Nonconformist congregations were permitted only to marry persons professing Protestant Nonconformity.

In consequence of a marriage solemnized by a Presbyterian clergyman between a person of his own creed an Episcopal Protestant having been declared null in 1844, the Irish Marriage Law was again reformed. The leading principle of the new code was to transfer to Ireland, in case of marriages in the Established Church, the rules in force in England, with some modifications, to give Irish Protestant Nonconformist ministers power to celebrate marriages as in England, throughout the intervention of civil registrars, and with formalities very analogous-- a peculiar exception being, however, made as to one class of Nonconformist ministers--to imitate the English Law in the cases of marriage without any religious ceremony, and of he marriages of Jews and Quakers, to create a system of general registration for all marriages, but to leave untouched the principles relating to marriages solemnized by the Roman Catholic clergy. Since the disestablishment of the Irish Church, power has been given by Act of Parliament to its Archbishops and Bishops, and to the heads of the different Protestant bodies in Ireland to grand special licenses.

The following account of an Irish country wedding is taken from the well-known and excellent work of Mr. And Mrs. S.C. Hall:--

When the match is made, it becomes necessary for the bridegroom to obtain a certificate

from his parish priest that he is to contract marriage cum quavis similiter soluta (it is always written in Latin) with any woman equally free from canonical bonds or impediments; to this a fee is always attached, we believe five shillings. He must also procure form the bishop or vicar-general, a license to marry, to which also a fee is attached of seven shillings and sixpence. This being done, he reparis with his bride to the house of her parish priest, accompanied by his and her friends, as many as they can muster; and before he is married, pays down to the priest the marriage fee according to his circumstances. The friends of both parties are also called upon to pay down something, and , between their reluctance to meet the demand and the priest's refusal to marry them till he is satisfied, a scene, sometimes humorous and sometimes discreditable, often arises. If the bride's father or brother be a "strong" farmer, who can afford to furnish a good dinner, the marriage takes place at the bride's house, the bridegroom bringing with him as many of his friends as choose to accompany him. The same process as to money takes place here, and it is not uncommon for the collection to amount ot twenty or thirty pounds. The time most in favor for celebrating weddings is just before Lent.

The guests are always numerous, and consist of all ranks, from the lord and the lady of the manor, through the intermediate grades of gentlemen, "squireens," farmers, down to the common laborer--wives, of course, included. Perfect equality prevails on this occasion, and,yet, the natural courtesy of the Irish character prevents any disturbance of social order-every one keeps his place, while, at the same time, the utmost freedom reigns. The dinner is usually at the expense of the Bride's family; and as nothing is spared in procuring the materials, and the neighboring gentry allow their cooks etc.. to assist, and lend dinner services etc... it is always "got up" in the best style. The priests sits at the head of the table; near him the bride and bridegroom, the coadjutors of the clergyman, and the more respectable guests; the other guests occupy the remainder of the table, which extends the whole length of the barn- in which the dinner generally takes place.

Immediately on the cloth being removed, the priest marries the young couple, and then the bridecake is brought in and placed before the priest who, putting on his stole, blesses it, and cuts it up into small slices which are handed round on a large dish among the guests, generally by one of the coadjutors. Each guest takes a slice of the cake, and lays down in place of it a donation for the priest, consisting of pounds, crowns, or shillings, according to the ability of the donor. After that, wine and punch go round, as at any ordinary dinner party. In the course of an hour or so, part of the range of tables is removed, and the musicians (consisting usually of a piper and a fiddler) who, during the dinner, had been playing some of the more slow and plaintive of the national airs, now strike up, and the dance immediately commences."

From:The Knot Tied,Marriage Ceremonies of all Nations, William Tegg, Omnigraphics,Detroit 1989, original 1877.


Knocknagow, or the Homes of aTipperary,by: Charles J. Kickham, pp.215-212, James Duffy and Co., Ltd. Dublin, 1887.

"I am curious to know," said he, "who that old gentleman is?"

As he spoke, his curiosity was further excited by seeing a little boy come into a room and place a green bag on the old man's knees. "That's the celebrated Irish piper," she replied. "I am surprised to see him here. I did not think he attended country weddings."

"I suppose he goes round among the nobility and gentry, as we are told the harpers used to do."

"He does., and he has a beautiful little pony the countess gave him. But I suppose he's stopping at present with the priests, and Father Hannigan has brought him with him."

As he uncovered his pipes their splendor quite took Mr. Lowe by suprise. The keys were of silver, and the bag covered with crimson velvet fringed with old; while the little bellows was quite a work of art, so beautifully was it carved and ornamented with silver and ivory. Having tied an oval piece of velvet with a ribbon attached to each and above his knee, he adjusted his instrument, and after moving his arm, to which the bellows was attached by a ribbon, till the crimson velvet bag was inflated, he touched the keys, and catching up the chanter quickly in both hands began to play... the musician soon seemed to forget all mere human concerns. He threw back his head, as if communing with invisible spirits in the air above him; or bent down over his instrument as if the spirits had suddenly flown into it, and he wanted to catch their whispering there, too.

The audience to some extent, shared in the musician's ecstasy; particularly Father Hannigan, from whose eyes tears were actually falling as the delicious melody ceased, and the old man raised his sightless eyes and listened, as it were, for the echo of his strains form the skies...

The wedding guests had been silently dropping into the room, which was now pretty well filled. Mat Donovan occasionally seized a bottle or decanter, and filled out a glass of wine, of whiskey, or "cordial" for some of them....There was a hustling heard at the door, and Ned Brophy himself was seen pushing two blind pipers into the parlor with a degree of violence and expression of countenance that led Mr. Lowe to imagine he must have caught them in the act of attempting to rob him or something of the kind. The two pipers were tall and gaunt and yellow- a striking contrast in every way to Mr. Flaherty. One was arrayed in a soldier's gray watch-coat, with the number of the regiment stamped in white figures on the back, and the other wore a coarse blue body-coat with what appeared to be the sleeves of another old gray watch-coat, sewed to it between the shoulders and the elbow. Both wore well patched corduroy knee-breeches and bluish worsted stockings, with brogues of unusual thickness of sole, well paved with heavy nails. Their rude brass mounted instruments were in keeping with their garments. The sheepskin bag of one had no covering whatever, while that of the other was covered with faded plaid, cross barred with green and yellow. They dropped into two chairs near the door, thrusting their old "caubeens" under them, and sat bolt upright like a pair of mummies or figures at a wax work exhibition.

"Play that tune that the angels sang again, Mr. Flaherty," said Father Hannigan.

Mr. Flaherty complied, and the noise and hum of voices were once hushed.

" Have you that?" the piper in the watch coat asked his companion in a whisper, at the same time beginning to work with his elbow.

"I have," replied the other, beginning to work with his elbow, too.

A sound like snoring followed for a moment, and Mr. Flaherty jerked up his head suddenly, and looked disturbed-as if an evil sprit had intruded among his delicate Ariels. But as the noise was not repeated, his countenance resumed its wonted placidity, and he bent over his instrument again.

"I think I could do it better myself," said he of the blue bodycoat, holding his big knotty fingers over the holes of the chanter. "He didn't shake enough."

"So could I," replied the gray watch coat, giving a squeeze to his bag which was followed by a faint squeak.

"Turn him out! " shouted Mr. Flaherty, as he started to his feet, his eyes rolling with indignation.

There was great astonishment among the company; and Miss Lloyd jumped up in her chair and starred wildly about her, with a vague notion that Wat Murphy's bulldog--of which interesting animal she entertained the profoundest dread--had got into the room and seized Mr. Flaherty by the calf of the let.

"Come Seumas," said Father Hannigan, "this is no place for you. Come, Thade, be off with you." And Father Hannigan expelled the grumbling minstrels form the parlor; but in so doing he gave each a nudge in the ribs and slipped a shilling into his fist, which had the effect of changing their scowl into a broad grin, as they jostled out of the kitchen.

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The Customs of the Strawboys

From: Luba Kaftannikoff

We had entered a countryside which was still steeped in the old traditions and customs, closely followed, although their origins were often lost. The young people could not say why they danced on the great slabs covering the dolmens-those tombs of kings who lived, perhaps, four thousand years ago when the Megalithic culture of the Mediterranean countries existed also in Ireland--but dance there they did, each Midsummer's Eve, having brought with them offerings of flowers. For eons, these dolmens were centers of fertility rites, perhaps because of some dim but universal belief hat where death and decay had been, birth and growth might spring...

So on an April day Nancy and Frank got married, and the Strawboys came and danced at their wedding.

"What did they look like?" I asked, when a week later I made my way up he long borheen to see the bride.

"They had high caps on them made of straw, pointed like." Said Nancy. "And masks, and straw capes round their shoulders. Theyl'd saw tied up in the front of their legs as well. They came at sundown-about eight o'clock, new time--and stayed half an hour. They danced with all, but they never spoke."

"If hey spoke' would break the spell," the bridegroom interjected.

"They take no refreshment either."

"And it's to bring good luck?" I asked.

"Tis," Nancy said, as a long intimate look passed between husband and wife and I thought

of the ancient fertility rites, which always seem so near and credible in this countryside.

"Do you know where the Strawboys came from?" I asked.

"Somewhere back in the hills," Nancy said. "But Frank thought a couple of them might have been comrades of his. "Tis years and years since the strawboys were seen in these parts, and there was a great cheer when we seen them coming high up across the crags, just as the sun went down."(18th c. Source)

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And for mating....

Under the Couvade: A most peculiar custom that has existed among peoples in various parts of the world is the couvade. This provides that at the time of childbirth, the husband takes to his bed and simulates the pains that the wife actually undergoes. Following the birth of the child, he keeps to his bed and receives all the attentions commonly bestowed upon the mother......

...The couvade has also been described by explorers and missionaries among some of the aborigines of North, Central and South America. It appears in Celtic legend and is bound up by certain elements of witchcraft, with the forceful transference of pain to the father by nurse or midwife, as noted in Scotland and Ireland..." From: Strange Customs of Courtship and Marriage, by William J. Fielding, New Home Library, New York.

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Marrage of Widows....

A girl was engaged to a widower at Blessington in Ireland, and the village boys followed her wherever she went serenading her with harsh discordant instruments. This was called a "horning," and was always done in the case of remarriage of widows or widowers.

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Written in 1869 this account goes way back in time to provide a good overview of marriage customs. Some good things to bring into your wedding plans!

Irish Marriages — Wife-seizing—The Agreement Bottle —
Casting Darts—Horsing and Goaling—Changing Wives—
Lending Wedding Rings—Scotch Marriages—Gretna Green —
Banns Superstition — Unlucky Wedding Days — The
Threshold—Money and Shoe throwing—Winning the Kail—
Creeling the Bridegroom—The Deasuil—Highland Weddings —
Bedding the Bride—Penny Weddings—Wedding Presents —
Handfasting—Under the Apron String—St. Andrew and
Marriages—Orcadian Marriages—Manx Marriages.
IK early times in Ireland no marriage ceremony
was performed without the parties consulting the
Druidess and her Purin. A certain divination
was practised with small stones, which were
thrown up and caught on the back of the hand.
Upon the success of the cast by the sorceress
depended the happiness of the proposed match.
The ancient custom of seizing wives and carrying
them off by force was practised in Ireland,
and even so late as 1767 an instance of this

usage occurred in Kilkenny. A desperate lover,
with a party of armed men, besieged the house of
his rival, and in the contest one of the fathers-in-
law was shot dead, and several of the besiegers
were mortally wounded. The attacking party
was forced to retire without the maiden.
Sampson, writing in 1802 of weddings in the
mountainous districts of Ireland, says: " However
suitable the match, it is but a lame exploit,
and even an affront, if the groom docs not first
run away with the bride. After a few days' carousal
among the groom's friends, the weddingers
move towards the bride's country, on which occasion
not only every relative, but every poor
fellow who aspires to be the well-wisher of either
party, doth bring with him a bottle of whiskey,
or the price of a bottle, to the rendezvous. After
this second edition of matrimonial hilarity, the
bride and groom proceed quietly to their designed
home, and, forgetting all at once their
romantic frolic, settle quietly down to the ordinary
occupations of life."

Piers, in his " Description of West Meath,"
about 1682, says that in Irish marriages, " especially
in those countries where cattle abound, the
parents and friends on each side meet on the side
of a hill, or, if the weather be cold, in some
place of shelter, about midway between both
dwellings. If agreement ensue, they drink the
agreement bottle, as they call it, which is a bottle
of good usquebaugh, and this goes merrily round.
For payment of the portion, which is generally a
determinate number of cows, little care is taken.
The father or next of kin to the bride sends to
his neighbours and friends sub mutuce vicissitu-
dinis obtentu, and every one gives his cow or
heifer, which is all one in the case, and thus the
portion is quickly paid. Nevertheless, caution is
taken from the bridegroom on the day of delivery
for restitution of the cattle, in case the bride die
childless within a certain day limited by agreement ;
and, in this case, every man's own beast
is restored. Thus, care is taken that no man
shall grow rich by frequent marriages. On the

day of bringing home, the bridegroom and his
friends ride out and meet the bride and her
friends at the place of meeting. Being come
near each other, the custom was of old to cast
short darts at the company that attended the
bride, but at such distance that seldom any hurt
ensued. Yet it is not out of the memory of man
that the Lord of Hoath on such an occasion lost
an eye. This custom of casting darts is now
The following was an ancient custom in Ireland
among the poor people. The country folks
settled among themselves that a certain young
woman ought to be married, and they also agreed
together that a particular young man ought to be
her husband. This being determined, on some
subsequent Sunday she was " horsed," that is,
carried upon the backs of men, whom she had
to provide with liquor. After she had been "
horsed," a hurling match was played, in which
her selected swain joined. If he happened to be
the conqueror he married her, but if another man

was the victor, she became his wife. These games
were not always finished on the " horsing " Sunday,
but were continued on two or three subsequent
Sundays. The common expression in
reference to the match was that the girl was "
In former days marriages were very irregularly
performed in Ireland, and the custom of men
changing their wives with each other was very
common. Separations were frequent and easily
effected. The Irish living in the mountains
married their daughters at a very early age—
generally at twelve or thirteen years. A usual
gift from a woman to her betrothed husband was
a pair of bracelets made of her own hair. It has
been suggested that this , custom arose from a
superstition that a lock of hair had a peculiar
charm, and also that the gift was a symbol of
possession, or, as lawyers say, seizin. In the
present century it is not an uncommon event for
marriages to be solemnised within the ruined
churches of Ireland.

The Irish peasantry have a general impression
that a marriage without the use of a gold ring is
not legal. At a town in the south-east of Ireland
a person kept a few gold wedding rings for hire,
and when parties who were too poor to purchase
a ring of the necessary precious metal were about
to be married, they obtained the loan of one, and
paid a small fee for the same, the ring being returned
to the owner immediately after the ceremony.
In some places in Ireland it is common
for the same ring to be used for many marriage
ceremonies, which ring remains in the custody of
the priest. Among the fishermen inhabiting the
Claddagh at Galway the wedding rings are of the
old clasped-hands pattern, and are heir-looms in
the family. They are regularly transferred from
the mothers to the daughters who are first married,
and from them the rings pass to their
descendants. Many of the nuptial rings still
worn on the western coast are very old, and
show traces of still older design.
It was customary in Scotland for marriages to

take place when the parties were at a very early
age. An Act of Assembly in 1600 endeavoured
to stop untimely unions by interdicting men from
marrying under the age of fourteen years, and
women under the age of twelve years; but there
are several recorded instances of marriage in
Scotland, in the seventeenth century, by persons
at the ages of eleven and thirteen years.
There are two forms of marriage in use in this
country—one regular, the other irregular. The
former is preceded by the publication of banns in
the kirk of the parish where one of the parties
resides, and the union is afterwards registered in
the kirk. The irregular marriage is contracted
without any religious or other formalities, and
simply by the parties acknowledging themselves
to be husband and wife before a witness, or by
living together as such permanently. This latter
kind of marriage was that performed by the celebrated
blacksmith and other persons at Gretna,
over the border, who assisted runaway couples
into matrimony merely by witnessing their

avowal that they were husband and wife. The
necessity for witnesses in the case of irregular
marriages is exemplified by an argument used in
a Scotch court of law; namely, that if two persons
came before the thirteen judges of the Session
in Scotland, and acknowledged themselves
to be husband and wife, and if, before they got
downstairs, twelve of the thirteen judges died,
the evidence' of the remaining one would not be
sufficient to substantiate that marriage.
Usually marriages are solemnised in the kirk
after publication of banns, and substantially the
ceremony is after the manner of the Church of
England, with the exception of the use of the
ring, which is deemed to be a relic of popery. It
certainly is a remnant of paganism, for we find
that the sacramental ring witnessed the vows of
the rude Celtic races, and rings have frequently
been found in cists, and under memorial cairns in
Scotland. Such rings, when taken from barrows
of female burial, may undoubtedly be regarded as
either espousal or wedding pledges. In the kirk

at the present time the parties join their right
hands and give their mutual consent to marry
in the presence of the minister, who delivers
The banns are generally proclaimed before
divine service on three successive Sundays, as
with us under our Marriage Act; but on payment
of an additional fee at the registry couples
can be " cried " three times at once on one Sunday.
There is a superstition in Scotland that it
is unlucky for a woman to attend in the kirk
when the banns are " put up." A similar notion
obtains in Worcestershire, where it is thought
that if a woman were to attend at the church on
either of the three Sundays on which her intended
wedding is proclaimed, all her offspring
would be born deaf and dumb. A sense of
modesty perhaps helps to keep this custom alive.
The upper classes in Scotland are generally
married on Monday, and the middle and lower
classes on Tuesday or Friday; but at Forglen,
in Banffshire, Friday is accounted an unlucky

day for marriage. Another peculiarity with the
Scotch people is that they much favour the last
day of the year for celebrating marriages. There
are more weddings on that day in Scotland than
in. any week of the year, except, of course, the
week in which that day occurs. The months of
January and May are considered to be particularly
objectionable for marriages; the superstition
as to the latter having been taken from the
Romans probably. It is also not proper to have
the banns published at the end of one quarter of
a year, and to marry at the beginning of the next
quarter. At Logierait, in Perthshire, and the
neighbourhood, that day of the week upon which
the 14th of May fell was deemed to be unlucky
all through the remainder of the year, and
no person would marry upon it. At Kirkwall
and St. Ola it was considered an unhappy omen
if a couple were disappointed in getting married
on the day which they had fixed for the purpose.
In Scotland a bride is generally lifted over
the threshold of her new home, a custom which

is probably derived from the Romans. The
threshold is considered to be a sort of sacred
limit, and is the subject of much superstition. It
is customary for the mother, or some other near
female relative of the bridegroom, to attend at
his house to receive the newly-married pair. She
meets them at the door with a currant bun,
which she breaks over the head of the bride
before entering the house. It is considered very
unlucky if the bun by mistake should be broken
over the head of any person other than the bride.
The distribution of money at marriages is still
observed in Scotland. About the time when the
couple are about to leave the house of the bride's
father, either for the wedding trip or the bridegroom's
home, the boys and girls of the neighbourhood
assemble in front of the house and cry
out, " Bell money, bell money!" When the
door is opened, the shouts are redoubled, and
they do not cease until some one of the wedding
party throws a shower of copper and small silver
coins among the crowd. The departing bride

and bridegroom are generally saluted with a
volley of old slippers and shoes, for luck. The
Scotch had a superstition about happy and unhappy
feet. Thus, at Porglen, it was formerly
the custom to wish brides and bridegrooms a
happy foot.
In some remote districts of Scotland the friends
of the bridegroom assemble at his residence, and
proceed with him to that of the bride, where a
clergyman meets them and performs the marriage
ceremony. All then go in procession, preceded
by a fiddler, to the future residence of the couple.
The young men of the party start off at full speed
on foot or horseback, and the one who first
reaches the house and announces the wedding is
said to have won the broose or kail, and is entitled
to salute the bride with a kiss on her
arrival. He was formerly also entitled to some
refreshment out of the kail-pot prepared for the
approaching party, a dish of spiced broth, or a
cake. On the arrival of the bride a farle of oatcake,
that is, a quarter of a circle into which the

cake is generally cut, is broken over her head,
and she is presented with a pair of tongs, as a
symbol of her future right to rule the household.
The custom of riding for the kail is referred to in
the " Collier's Wedding," by Chicken, in 1764,
as follows: "
Pour rustic fellows wait the while
To kiss the bride at the church-style;
Then vig'rous mount their f elter'd steeds,
With heavy heels, and clumsy heads;
So scourge them going, head and tail—
To win what country call the kail."
Sampson, writing in 1802, says: " At the
Scotch weddings the groom and his party vie
with the other youngsters who shall gallop first
to the house of the bride. Nor is this feat of
gallantry always without danger; for iu. every
village through which they are expected they are
received with shots of pistols and guns. These
discharges, intended to honour the parties, sometimes
promote their disgrace, if to be tumbled in
the dirt on such an occasion can be called a dishonour.
At the bride's house is prepared a bowl

of broth, to be the reward of the victor in the
race, which race is therefore called the running
for the brose."
The "Courier," of the 16th of January, 1813,
in recording a wedding in the preceding month at
Mauchline, says: " Immediately after the marriage,
four men of the bride's company started for
the brose, from Mauchline to Whitehill, a distance
of thirteen miles, and when one of them was sure
of the prize, a young lady, who had started after
they were a quarter of a mile off, outstripped
them all, and, notwithstanding the interruption
of getting a shoe -fastened on her mare at a
smithy on the road, she gained the prize, to the
astonishment of both parties."
Sinclair, writing in 1792, says that at Galston,
in Ayrshire, the custom was when a young man
wished to pay his addresses to a girl, not for him
to go to her father's house and profess his passion,
but to go to a public-house; and he having let
the landlady into the secret, the girl was sent
for. She seldom refused to come under such cir-

cumstances, and when she arrived she was entertained
with ale and spirits, and the marriage was
agreed on.
Another custom formerly in use in Scotland
was called creeling the bridegroom. On the day
after the wedding, when the marriage feast was
continued, the bridegroom had a creel or basket
filled with stones firmly fastened upon his back ;
and with this incumbrance he was compelled to
run about the neighbourhood, followed by his
friends, who would not allow him to remove it
until his wife came after him, and either kissed
him or unfastened the creel. This she did in
token that she was no longer a maiden; and
sometimes it happened that, as the relief depended
upon her, the husband had not to run far; but
when she was either very bashful or very sportive,
he had to carry his load a considerable distance.
The custom was very strictly enforced, for the
friend who was last creeled had charge of the
ceremony, and he was generally anxious that the
new bridegroom should not escape.

Pennant, in his "Tour in Scotland," relates
that among the Highlanders it was the custom
for the bride immediately after her marriage to
walk round the church alone. In some places
all the company after leaving the church walked
round it, keeping the walls always upon their
right hands. Another custom in the Highlands,
and particularly at Logierait, was to unloose
every knot about a newly-married couple before
the celebration of the ceremony, for fear of barrenness;
but the knots were retied before the
parties walked round the church. A similar
usage as to the unloosing of the knots prevailed
in France and elsewhere. The walk round the
church was called the Deasuil, and is of Celtic
Among the Highlanders great care was taken
that dogs did not pass between a couple on their
way to be married; and particular attention was
paid to leaving the bridegroom's left shoe without
a buckle or latchet, in order to prevent the
secret influence of witches on the wedding night.


A Highland wedding early in the present century
was generally conducted as follows. When a
couple of young people had agreed to get married,
the nearest relations of both parties met to ratify
the contract, which was generally done by the
consumption of a quart or two of whiskey, as in
Ireland. This proceeding was called the booking.
Some Tuesday or Thursday in the growth of the
moon was appointed for the celebration of the
nuptials. Meanwhile, two trustworthy persons
were selected, one being a man, to protect the
bride from being stolen, which in olden times
most likely she would have been; and the other
being a woman, who acted as the bed-chamber
custodian on the wedding day. A few days
before the wedding the parties, attended by their
friends, perambulated the country to invite the
guests. On the bridal morning some lady friend
was appointed mistress of the ceremonies for the
day, and she decked the bride in her best clothes.
The bridegroom also was, made as smart as possible,
and adorned with wedding favours. Volleys
of musketry welcomed the guests to a substantial
breakfast, after which the company had a dance.
At the proper hour the bride was mounted on
horseback behind an experienced rider, and with
musketry and bagpipes she proceeded with her
friends to the appointed place. The bridegroom
and his party followed, and allowed the bride and
her friends to enter the meeting-house first. After
the nuptial ceremony all the company adjourned
to the nearest inn or the house of some relation
of the bride, it being considered unlucky for her
new home to be the first which she entered after
her marriage. All parties then returned to the
bridegroom's house, where they were received
with gun-shots. At the door the bride was welcomed
with a basket of bridal bread and cheese.
The couple were then seated at the upper end of
a banquet, after which followed dancing and deep
drinking. Late at night came the " bedding of
the bride," who was put to bed in the presence of
all the company. Her left stocking was then
flung over the shoulder of some person, and the

one upon whom it fell was reckoned to be the
individual who would next get married. The
bridegroom was then led in and put to bed, and
while there he drank the company's health. The
festivities lasted all the next day; and this continued
mirthful celebration of the affair was called "
backing the wedding."
A pennie brydal, or penny wedding, was a
common event in Scotland in the last century.
The expense of the marriage entertainment was
defrayed, not by the couple or their friends, but
by the guests, all of whom paid something.
Sometimes as many as two hundred guests assembled,
usually at a tavern, and their contributions
often amounted to a good sum, which greatly
assisted the couple upon their outset in life. In
Aberdeenshire this kind of wedding was called
the siller marriage. The penny weddings were
in olden times reprobated by respectable people :
is leading to disorder and licentiousness; but it
was found to be impossible to suppress them.
All that could be done was to place restrictions

upon the amount allowed to be given, and five
shillings was the limit. An act of the General
Assembly, in 1645, endeavoured to abolish pennie
brydals, without success.
The records of the parish which includes the
most northern burgh on the mainland of Scotland,
show that in the last century those persons
who had been fined by the Kirk Session were
not entitled to " get the benefit of marriage"
until the fines were paid. These fines had been
imposed principally for " Sabbath-daye enormities."
In 1709 the Session, "considering the
great abuses committed by the confluence of
people who frequent contracts" (betrothals), appointed "
that none contract till they come to the
minister, and find caution that there be no dancing
or music at the contracts." In 1711 it was
enacted that, for the better preservation of the
sanctity of the Sabbath, " there be no marriages
hereafter upon Monday." Persons " contracted "
or publicly betrothed were fined WL Scots by
the Session if they afterwards refused to " imple-

ment the contract;" and persons intending marriage
were, after the change of currency, obliged
to " consign" 10s. in the clerk's hands before
publication of the banns. It is recorded that the
Session " sat upon an elder for going and courting
here and there several women," for which he
was " sharplie reproved."
At Caithness, early in the present century,
when a man wished to be married and could not
repeat the shorter catechism, the Session required
him to produce two " cautioners " to the amount
of 121. Scots, that he would acquire it within six
months after his marriage.
The custom of assembling many persons together,
and spending several days in drinking,
feasting, and dancing, at weddings, was very
common in all parts of Scotland; and usually
the greater part of the provisions was provided
by the many guests who assembled on the occasions.
Douglas's " Virgil" tells us, " There was
a custom in the Highlands and north of Scotland,
where newly-married persons had no great stock,

or others low in their fortune, brought carts and
horses with, them to the houses of their relations
and friends, and received from them corn, meal,
wool, or whatever else they could get." Ramsay's "
Poems," in 1721, tell us that it was the
custom in Scotland for the friends to assemble at
a newly-married couple's house, before they had
risen from bed, and to throw presents upon the
bedclothes: "
As fou's the house cou'd pang,
To see the young f ouk or they raise,
Gossips came in ding dang,
And wi' a BOSS aboon the claiths
Ilk ane their gifts down flang."
At a village near Glasgow was a little round
isolated mount called a Mote, and in recent times
it was the custom, after the celebration of a
marriage in the neighbourhood, for the wedded
pair, with their friends, to assemble and dance
on the flat top of the Mote. The penalty for a
neglect of this usage was sterility in the couple.
In early times the Scottish lairds and barons
regulated the marriages of their vassals, and had

the right to sleep with the wife of any of them
on the first night after marriage. This privilege
was in later days waived upon the payment of a
sum of money by the husband. " It was said
that Eugenius III., king of Scotland, did wickedly
ordain that the lord or master should have the
first night's lodging with every woman married
to his tenant or bondman, which ordinance was
afterwards abrogated by King Malcolme III.,
who ordained that the bridegroom should have
the sole use of his own wife, and therefore should
pay to the lord a piece of money called Marca."
In early times there were few churches on the
borders of Scotland, hence a priest used to visit
the forlorn regions once a year for the purpose of
solemnising marriages and baptisms. This, says
Scott, gave rise to a custom called hand-fasting,
by which a couple, who were too impatient to wait
the arrival of the priest, consented to live as
husband and wife in the interim. Each had the
privilege, without loss of character, to draw back
from the engagement if he or she were not dis-

posed to legitimatise the cohabitation by the
rites of the church. But the party retiring was
obliged to maintain the issue of the union, if any.
This custom of hand-fasting, or hand-fisting,
was in use in the last century, when, at an annual
fair, the unmarried persons of both sexes
chose companions for the ensuing year, with
whom they lived until the next fair. If they
mutually suited at the end of the twelve months
they got married, and if otherwise, they separated.
Sinclair, writing at the end of the last
century, suggested that as this custom obtained
at a place situated near a Roman encampment,
possibly it was based upon the Roman marriage
by use, by which, if a woman lived with a man
for a year without being absent three nights, she
became his wife. The hand-fasting kind of marriage
contract is said to have been in use among
the ancient Danes, who called it hand-festing,
and upon which followed the freedom, without
the actual ceremony, of marriage.
A writer in 1543 says : " Every man lyke-

wyse must esteme the parson to whom he is
hand-fasted, none otherwyse than for his owne
spouse, though as yet it be not done in the
church After the hand-fastynge and
makyng of the contracte, the churchgoying and
weddyng shuld not be differred to longe. . . At
the hande-fasting ther is made a greate feaste and
superfluous bancket, and even the same night are
the two hand-fasted personnes brought and layed
together, yea, certan wekes afore they go to the
Brand, writing early in the present century,
says that the system of full probation before
marriage was practised on Portland Island, and
that traces of the hand-fasting system might be
found in many parts of England.
According to the Scotch law, the marriage of
the father and mother legitimatises all children
previously born, however old they may be. An
old saying is that all children under the mother's
girdle or apron-string at the time of her marriage
are legitimate. In very early days children born

before wedlock used to perform a part in the
marriage ceremony, by being placed under the
veil or mantle of the bride or the pallium of the
altar, in which position they received the nuptial
benediction. And instances have occurred in
more modern times where premature offspring
have been put under their mother's apron, and
had the string tied over them during her marriage.
In the last century the purchase of silver teaspoons
always preceded nuptials in Scotland.
They were as much a necessary part of the wedding
gear as the household furniture, and they
were as regularly bought. The country folks
resorted for these spoons to the Parliament Close,
in Edinburgh, where all the goldsmiths were
Sometimes a bridal party in Scotland takes a
pleasure sail upon the water, but when they do
they always go up the river. It is considered
very unlucky to go down the water; and if the
party should do so, either the bride, bridegroom,
or one of the bridesmaids will be drowned.

On the eve of the day of St. Andrew, the
patron saint of Scotland, maidens, in pursuance
of an old and wide-spread custom, sought to learn
what kind of husbands they were to have by
praying in these words: " Oh, St. Andrew!
cause that I obtain a good pious husband. Tonight
show me the figure of the man who will
take me to wife." There was an ancient superstition
that, in order to ensure good fortune to a
bride, it was necessary that she should enter her
house under two drawn swords placed in the
form of St. Andrew's cross.
In certain districts of the Orkneys the people
marry only when the moon is growing, believing
that the waning moon is fruitless ; a superstition
which recalls the words of Theseus in the "
Midsummer Night's Dream:" "
Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon."
Some couples even wish for a flowing tide at
their nuptials. Thursday is also esteemed the
luckiest day iu the week for marriage by the


Orcadians. Possibly this respect for Thor's day
is a remnant of Scandinavian paganism. (Vide
vol. i. p. 229.)
Near the Loch of Stennis, in the Orkneys, are
certain standing stones, which are relics of two
large circles, called respectively the Circle of the
Moon, and the Circle of the Sun. As recently as
one hundred years since these two enclosures were
made to fulfil a matrimonial duty. A maiden
who wished to be married performed alone a
circuit round the stones dedicated to the moon,
and her intended husband used to do the same in
solitude round those devoted to the sun. This
ceremony completed, the pair met at the stone of
Odin, through the centre of which was a hole of
capacious size. They took their stand on either
side, joined their hands through the hole, pledged
their troth, and thus became husband and wife.
At any time afterwards, when the match became
mutually irksome, the couple met in the evening
in the church of Stennis, each departed through
a different door, and thus a divorce was com-

pletely effected. In other parts of the Orkneys
the contracting parties joined their hands through
a perforation or ring in a stone pillar at the ceremony
of marriage.
In the Scilly Isles marriages were performed
without banns or licence. The nuptials were
celebrated with dancing and music, and they concluded
with the bride's dance at night.
In the Isle of Man a superstition prevails that
it is very lucky to carry salt in the pocket, therefore
the natives always do so when they marry.
Train, in his history of this island, says, " On the
bridegroom leaving his house it was customary to
throw an old shoe after him, and, in like manner,
an old shoe after the bride on leaving her home
to proceed to church, in order to ensure good
luck to each respectively; and if by stratagem
either of the bride's shoes could be taken off by
any spectator on her way from church, it had to
be ransomed by the bridegroom."
Waldron, writing of a Manx wedding, says: "
They have bridemen and bridesmaids who lead

the young couple, as in England, only with this
difference, that the former have osier wands in
their hands, as an emblem of superiority." The
same author tells us that at the marriages of the
inhabitants of the Isle of Man they were preceded
to church by musicians, " who play all the
while before them the tune, The Black and the
Grey, and no other is ever used at weddings.'
He adds that, " when they arrived at the church
yard they walk three times round the church
before they enter it." And, in reference to a
wedding feast, he says: " Notice is given to all
the friends and relations on both sides, though
they live ever so far distant. Not one of these,
unless detained by sickness, fails coming, and
bringing something towards the feast; the nearest
of kin, if they are able, commonly contribute the
most, so that they have vast quantities of fowls
of all sorts ; I have seen a dozen of capons in one
platter, and six or eight fat geese in another;
sheep and hogs roasted whole, and oxen divided,
but into quarters."

-The Wedding Day in all Ages and Countries, Edward J. Wood, 1869, pp. 560-79

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