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‘Judas Tree’ – Part Of Christian Folklore

Cercis canadensis ‘Carolina Sweetheart’.

One of the many rare and beautiful trees currently on sale at Seamus O’Driscoll’s Garden Centre, situated on the Mill Road, here in Thurles, Co. Tipperary, must surely be the Cercis canadensis ‘Caroline Sweetheart’, also called the Judas Tree or Flowering Judas Eastern Redbud.

With the name ‘Judas Tree’ comes a legend behind its name, going back to earlier Christian folklore. This myth / folklore hereunder surrounds all such Redbud varieties in the same Genus, found in various parts of the Middle East including Judea.

Cercis canadensis ‘Carolina Sweetheart’.

Christian Folklore

The legend states that originally all such trees were not just tall and stately, but also bore broad, strong branches displaying white flowers. In exchange for thirty pieces of silver; one of the 12 disciples, all followers of Jesus, named Judas Iscariot, from the town of Kerioth in south Judea, would eventually betray Jesus to the Sanhedrin in the Garden of Gethsemane. This was simply done by kissing Jesus and addressing him as “Rabbi”; thus revealing his identity to the crowd who had come to arrest him. Judas, on learning later that Jesus was to be crucified, in his shame, hanged himself from supposedly a Redbud tree. The tree itself became so ashamed of the role it had played; vowed that forever more it would not grow its branches strong enough to be used for a hanging. Its wood from then on would remain brittle and its pure white flowers would blush pink, demonstrating visual embarrassment. Thus, the alternate name for Redbud trees became “Judas Trees”; the tree Judas chose for his eventual death.

However, possibly the real truth is that Redbud trees grew throughout Judea and were simply called “Judea’s Trees”, which over time and through word of mouth, verbal accents etc, today have become known as “Judas Trees”.

Just presently shedding its ‘blushing, snapdragon like blossoms’; Cercis canadensis ‘Carolina Sweetheart’, is much sought after in landscaping, especially since its flowers are somewhat unusual, in that they grow from the trunk of the tree, a trait often observed on tropical tree species, and known as “Cauliflory”. For our readers not familiar with the terminology “Cauliflory”, same is a botanical idiom which refers to plants that flower and fruit from their main stems or woody trunks, rather than from new growth; thus aiding pollination from not just flying insects, but also from animals rubbing and climbing.

With flowering complete; typical heart shaped maroon leaves [dark reddish purple or dark brownish red colour taking its name from the French word ‘marron’, or chestnut] will emerge, before becoming green with white margins bearing delightful shades of pink red and purple.

Overall, Cercis canadensis ‘Caroline Sweetheart’, is best described as ‘sheer candy’ to the eyes of any beholder.


Seachtain na Gaeilge – Irish Music, Song & Dance At Thurles Library

Senior Library Assistant at Thurles Library; situated in Cathedral Street, Thurles, Ms Suzanne Brosnan reports:-

“Join us in Thurles Library during Seachtain na Gaeilge (English – “Irish language week”), for a ‘Coffee Morning’ on Wednesday, March 13th, at 11.00am and enjoy a great Irish Music, Song and Dance performance from the pupils of our local Gaelscoil Bhríde, Durlas Éile.  Mr Jimmy Duggan will be ‘Fear an Tí’, (‘Man Of the House’ ) or Director for the session.

Looking forward to meeting you all. Everyone welcome”.

“Ag tnúth go mór bualadh libh. Beidh fáilte romhaibh.” (Irish to English translation –  “Looking forward to meeting you. You are all welcome.” )

Note: Seachtain na Gaeilge [English – “Irish language week” ], is a non-profit organisation here in Ireland, which promotes use of the Irish language during a two-week festival held at the beginning of March every year, just before Saint Patrick’s Day, latter which is celebrated annually on March 17th.Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Charity Speed Dating – Restart Your Heart

“I love it when strangers smile at me and I smile back, and we have that nice stranger smiling moment.”

“If there’s no love in the world,… let’s make some.”

“So, things are not good on ‘the romantic front’ presently, I hear you say?”  Well, fear not, all is not totally lost; as Mr Gerard Fogarty (Deputy Officer in charge – Order of Malta Ireland Ambulance Corps, Thurles),  now reports.

Allow us to Restart Your Heart”, with our charity speed-dating event in Hickey’s Bar, Cathedral Street, Thurles on Friday, February 15th.

Get that ‘loving feeling’ with kick-off at 7.30pm.

Note: Spread the “St. Valentine’s Weekend Cheer” by inviting all of your single friends. Register online to restartomac@gmail.com to ensure your place.

Let Friday night next, take you into those early hours with an exciting live music line-up, from local talent’s Niall O’Shaughnessy, Barry MacLoughlin, JP Dempsey, Philly Purcell and Eddie MacCormac.

Music will start at 9.30pm.

Admission for dating and music €15. Admission for music only €10.

Total proceeds will go to Order of Malta Ireland Ambulance Corps Thurles, whose volunteers provide patient transport, first aid courses, and first-aid for events all across Mid-Tipperary.

Of course this event raises the inevitable, important, question, “If love is blind, why are gifts of lingerie so popular on St. Valentine’s day?”Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Tipperary Library Service, Celebrate ‘Cruinniú na nÓg’.

Ms Suzanne Brosnan, (Senior Library Assistant), Thurles Library, Cathedral Street, Thurles, Reports:-

Tipperary Library Service will celebrate Cruinniú na nÓg (Translated from the Irish language – “Meeting of the Young”), through numerous activities planned for their family fun-day here in Thurles Library, taking place on Saturday 23rd June from 11.00am4.00pm. All the child-centred events are totally free and activity based, with plenty of opportunities for children to ‘make and create’.

Thurles Library

We look forward to our magic show with Jelly Bean Julie from 11.00am in the hopes to dazzle and amaze our younger children, join in our puppet show, try balloon modelling and get your face-painted.

Our interactive drum and fun sessions area is a perfect way to bring upbeat and high energy to both children and their parents. Fergal O’Connor will be available for 3 sessions throughout the day starting, at 12.30pm.

Running alongside these events we will run Art and Crafts Work Stations throughout the day, with local artist Ms Danielle Martin of ‘Masquerade Parties’ and, weather permitting, we hope to take the artistic designs of the children onto the board-walk for a “Pavement Art” session.

For those who love to create, learn new skills and just have fun with Lego, LearnIt will host 3 workshops over the course of the day, dealing with Junior Robotics, Senior Robotics and Senior Engineering. LearnIt promotes working as a team, creative thinking,  while solving problems through this interactive and fun workshop, all by using Lego.

Please note: Bookings are now open for the Learnit Workshops, with Junior Robotics, suitable for 7-9 years taking place at 11.00am12.15pm; Senior Robotics, suitable for children aged 11 years plus, taking place at 12.30pm2.30pm; and Senior Engineering, suitable for persons aged 9 – 12 years, taking place 2.45pm4.15pm.

Summer Stars Reading Challenge 2018

Tipperary Library Service will also launch the “Summer Stars Reading Challenge 2018” at 12.00 noon. “Summer Stars” is an exciting reading-based programme which is available free of charge to all children across the country. Children are invited to register for the reading adventure and enjoy reading many books throughout the summer months. All participants will be given a Summer Stars Reading Card to record and track their own progress.

Contact: Telephone: 0761 066131 during normal working hours 9.00am to 5.00pm (Closed for Lunch 1.00pm-2.00pm) or E-Mail: thurleslibrary@tipperarycoco.ie

So, do come along and be part of Cruinniú na nÓg and enjoy a day of guaranteed fun with your family at Thurles Library, where you are guaranteed to find something for just about everyone.


“Following The Wran”

Former Wren Boy, Mr Tom Ryan, salutes the tradition of “Following the Wran”(By Poet & Author Tom Ryan.)

As St. Stephen’s Day approaches I wish to alert the nation to a problem more immediate and more serious than even Brexit. I am an easy-going gent, and I’m normally reluctant to be provoked and I’m in favour of peace and harmony. But not at all costs!  There are strict limits to my patience and tolerance and I know where to draw the line.

What has incensed and infuriated me in recent years is the sad demise of the Wren or Wran Boys and Wran Girls, so traditional in many parts of rural Ireland, including my own native county of Tipperary.

I ask myself what is this great country of ours coming to, when we stand accused in the dock of disgracefully abandoning the noble tradition of “Following the Wran”, reneging on our heritage and culture for no acceptable reason other than laziness and neglect.  Or have we become too uppish and snobbish in these days of plenty and pride, when we know the price of everything and the value of little.  Our Education system has much to answer for, if this be the case and I am thinking of getting up a petition calling on the Government to immediately, if not sooner, proclaim National Wran Day to urgently awaken the Gaelic World, including the Diaspora, to the dangers posed by selling our cultured souls to the paltry princes of so called pride, privilege and progress, whilst shamefully neglecting a glorious old tradition.

I am proud to say I have served my country in my time by practising this old tradition on St. Stephen’s Day. My first appearance as a Junior Wran Boy was in 1957 when black in the face from shoe polish and muck (no great effort required for that in those days, of course,) I dressed up in old pyjamas and peaked caubeen (an old hat) and an ould ragged shirt and I set off proudly as to war, with my plastic mouth organ (the poor man’s accordion), accompanied by my musical pal on his melodica.

We were able, of course, to play only one tune which was Friedrich Silcher’s “Muss I Denn”, (Do I Have To); music later made more famous by Elvis Presley’s song “Wooden Heart” in 1961.

But we dutifully knocked on every door and half door in our town with our little concert. Too much acclaim, I am proud to say, and we gathered up enough pennies and half pennies for the price of the cinema, then showing a Gene Autry cowboy movie, preceded by “The Three Stooges” and a Tom and Jerry cartoon.  We had enough funds left over for a Fizz Bag, Gobstoppers and Cleeves Toffee which we purchased in the little shop on the corner on the street where I lived.

To this day I stoutly hold and maintain that it is great training for a young boy or girl to follow the Wran. It gives them a sense of appreciation that cash does not fall from the sky or Mam and Dad’s pockets all the time. But that it can be sometimes earned all by your little self while you are having craic and commotion doing it into the bargain.

I first encountered Wran boys in Fianna Road, Thurles, in the early fifties when a merry melodeon player and his fellow singers and musicians came into our kitchen and had us all soon singing popular tunes of the time such as:-  “On Top of Old Smokey”, “Red Sails in the Sunset”, “Irene, Goodnight, Irene” and other hits of the fifties. They sang and whooped and danced on the cobblestoned floor and were as merry and mirthful a company as you could ever hope to meet in a month of Sundays. They were decent people, proud to uphold their country’s ancient traditions and were rewarded with either a ‘thruppenny bit’ (a three pence coin) or a tanner (a sixpence coin) for their melodic and mirthful madness.

At first, they frightened me a little with their black polished faces and other strange attire as they carried a mock wren in a nest perched on a large bamboo stick around the streets, avenues and boreens (small roadways or lanes) of the town and district; while they sang and danced to their heart’s content. What almighty joy they bestowed on their appreciative audiences, so easily pleased in those now far off innocent days.

The perennial and mandatory favourite song of course, on La An Dreoilin (The Day of The Wren) or Stephen’s Day or Boxing Day went like this:-

“The wran, the wran, the King of all Birds,
On Stephen’s Day was caught in the Furze
Up with the kittle and down with the pan
And a penny or tuppence to bury the wran”

Such entertainment long ago usually ensured a most cordial response from the man or woman of the houses we visited, who never failed to drop at least a couple of pence (set aside for the pitch and toss) into our caps, waved in joyous anticipation under the noses of the happy people in the house.

So, let’s have an official ‘Follow the Wran Day’ to honour that immortal bird who magically, no matter how many times folks “bury” it, never fails to put in an appearance again and again on “La an Dreoilin” or St Stephen’s Day.  Sure, it wouldn’t be Christmas without our legendary feathered friend of Yuletide or Mi na Nollag.

[Tom Ryan, “Iona”, Rahealty, Thurles, County Tipperary. (Tel: 087 213100). Author of “Light Hearted Tales From The Watery Mall” ]Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail