Beautiful Ancient Irish Legend Of The Blessing Of The Bees – Ancient Tradition Revived In Ireland Again!

Timoleague Friary, County Cork, Ireland. Image credit. Aaro Koskinen

The Blessing of the Bees is a ceremony practiced in modern Ireland, in October every year. The tradition dates back to early Christian days and has it roots in an ancient legend describing how bees came to Ireland.

The power and important of bees were known to many ancient civilizations. On the walls of the Egyptian sun temple of Ni-user-re at Abusir which dates from around 2400 B.C, we find the earliest known reference to bee-keeping. Egyptian hieroglyphs describe how to use beehives and scientists think this ancient Egyptian interest in bee-keeping most probably evolved due to the popular belief that the bee originated there, from the Sun god, Ra.

Ancient Irish manuscripts reveal bees were sacred animals and they were brought to the country from Wales in the 5th century, by a Saint named Modomnóc.

St. Modomnóc of Ossory, who was a disciple of St. David of Wales and a member of the O’Neill royal family died around 550 and his feast day is February 13.

The ancient legend tells St. Modomnóc was a caretaker of bees in a monastery in Wales. When he was ordered to return to his home country Ireland, he was followed to the port by his loyal bees.

The saint brought the swarm with him to Wexford, where they settled and spread throughout the rest of Ireland.

Legend tells the bees followed St. Modomnóc to Ireland.

Another version of the legend tells the bees tried to follow St. Modomnóc three times before being accepted by their keeper. Both of these features pertaining to the bees — that of following their master with a sense of affection and loyalty and that of devotedly abandoning their home after the loss of their keeper — are recurring motifs which can be witnessed in many folktales and legends concerning the bee.

Beautiful Ancient Irish Legend Of The Blessing Of The Bees – Ancient Tradition Revived In Ireland Again
AncientPages.com | October 11, 2017 | Ancient Traditions And Customs, Featured Stories, Myths & Legends, News | No Comments
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Ellen Lloyd – AncientPages.com – The Blessing of the Bees is a ceremony practiced in modern Ireland, in October every year. The tradition dates back to early Christian days and has it roots in an ancient legend describing how bees came to Ireland.

Timoleague Friary, County Cork, Ireland
Timoleague Friary, County Cork, Ireland. Image credit. Aaro Koskinen

The power and important of bees were known to many ancient civilizations. On the walls of the Egyptian sun temple of Ni-user-re at Abusir which dates from around 2400 B.C, we find the earliest known reference to bee-keeping. Egyptian hieroglyphs describe how to use beehives and scientists think this ancient Egyptian interest in bee-keeping most probably evolved due to the popular belief that the bee originated there, from the Sun god, Ra.

Ancient Irish manuscripts reveal bees were sacred animals and they were brought to the country from Wales in the 5th century, by a Saint named Modomnóc.

St. Modomnóc of Ossory, who was a disciple of St. David of Wales and a member of the O’Neill royal family died around 550 and his feast day is February 13.

The ancient legend tells St. Modomnóc was a caretaker of bees in a monastery in Wales. When he was ordered to return to his home country Ireland, he was followed to the port by his loyal bees.

The saint brought the swarm with him to Wexford, where they settled and spread throughout the rest of Ireland.

Beautiful Ancient Irish Legend Of The Blessing Of The Bees – Ancient Tradition Revived In Ireland Again

Legend tells the bees followed St. Modomnóc to Ireland.

Another version of the legend tells the bees tried to follow St. Modomnóc three times before being accepted by their keeper. Both of these features pertaining to the bees — that of following their master with a sense of affection and loyalty and that of devotedly abandoning their home after the loss of their keeper — are recurring motifs which can be witnessed in many folktales and legends concerning the bee.

The Blessing of the Bees tradition has been revived in Ireland again. The ceremony has its renaissance moment in Dublin at the end of September and people hope the ceremony that was popular centuries ago will be kept alive.

“At one point, nearly every house in Ireland would have had access to a beehive, as it would have been the only source of a sweetener and wax would have been used for candles. It’s the first time I’ve heard it done in modern Ireland. There’s a lot of folklore attached the bees, so it’s nice to keep that going,” Tidy Towns committee member Gerard Meaney.

Blessing of the bees ceremony in Bulgaria. Image credit: Fr. Ted’s Blog

There is currently only one hive in the North Dublin church, but the community hopes to get more in 2018 and Gerard Meaney thinks the Blessing Of The Bees ceremony should be an annual celebration.

The hives would be closed, up until the spring time. The ancient tradition is known in other countries as well. For example, in Bulgaria the Orthodox Church have a special day dedicated to the blessing of honey, bees and beehives. On February 10 each year St. Haralambos is commemorated and honey is blessed.