Niall Moody

The Evening of Guarding the Horses


When it was still active I would have posted the following on the Super Friendship Club Sources of inspiration thread, but I can't do that now, so instead I'll just post it here where no-one will ever read it :(

So I've been slowly working my way through the Carmina Gadelica, and I came across the following about the feast of St. Michael:

The people do not retire to rest on the Eve of St. Michael. The women are engaged all night baking struain, on household matters, and on matters personal to themselves and others, while the men are out and in watching their horses in the fields and stables. It is permissible on this night to appropriate a horse, wherever found and by whatever means, on which to make the pilgrimage and to perform the circuiting:
Theft of horse of the Feast of Michael,
Theft that was never condemned.
The people act upon this ancient privilege and steal horses without compunction, owners and stealers watching and outwitting and circumventing one another. It is obligatory to leave one horse with the owner to carry himself and his wife on the pilgrimage and make the circuiting, but this may be the worst horse in the townland. No apology is offered or expected for this appropriation provided the horse be returned uninjured; and even if it be injured, no adequate redress is obtained. The Eve of St. Michael is thus known as feasgar faire nan steud (the evening of watching the steeds); feasgar furachaidh nan each (the evening of guarding the horses); oidhche crothaidh nan capull (the night of penning the mares); oidhche glasadh nan each (the night of locking the horses) - hence also glasadh na Feill Micheil (the locking of the Feast of Michael).

It's like an alternate version of The Castle Doctrine, only without all the unpleasant libertarian trappings :P