Our Sponsor Sideshow Collectibles Send us News
Lord of the Rings Tolkien
Search Tolkien
Lord of The RingsTheOneRing.net - Forged By And For Fans Of JRR Tolkien
Lord of The Rings Serving Middle-Earth Since The First Age

Lord of the Rings Movie News - J.R.R. Tolkien
Do you enjoy the 100% volunteer, not for profit services of TheOneRing.net?
Consider a donation!

  Main Index   Search Posts   Who's Online   Log in
The One Ring Forums: Off Topic: Off Topic:
Irish Catholic traditions-need help for my novel please :)

Cirashala
Tol Eressea


Apr 4, 8:01pm

Post #1 of 16 (1704 views)
Shortcut
Irish Catholic traditions-need help for my novel please :) Can't Post

Hey there!

Wow, it's been three months since I've been on here. Life has been rough illness-wise this winter Frown I'm sick again (seriously been sick every other week all winter) so if this post is a bit jumbled, my apologies Evil

Anyway, as I am a Protestant Christian, not Catholic (and not Irish culturally, though I do have some Irish blood. It's just on my father's side which hasn't been extensively researched genealogy wise) I need some help with Irish traditions and Catholicism for the novel I'm currently working on (if you want to check out my first novel, Amazing Grace, feel free to pm me and I'll send you a link Smile).

In a nutshell, my novel is the first in a series following a young Irish girl pre-famine (starts summer 1845) through the famine to her emigration to America and life beyond as an Irish-American immigrant. Her family is Catholic, as was most Irish in Ireland at the time.

She's also a farm girl living in County Wicklow (in fact, I found her specific location-Blackberry Lane outside of Delgany) in a family that had what they needed pre-famine (her father had 15 acres leased (with maybe a few acres subletted have yet to finalize that bit), so not dirt poor but not rich by any means either. They do have a small house on their property because their landlord is a decent sort (Peter La Touche, a real landlord of that area that was a descendant of French Huguenots (aka not English) and kinder than the absentee English landlords, so their rent is high but reasonable even with the small three room house). I want their family to have what is needed and occasional extras (like hair ribbons and a new dress for wedding bridesmaids, etc) until the famine hits and they lose everything.

I won't really dwell on actual church services/mass/etc in the book, but I have heard that Catholicism and its rituals/traditions does have a direct impact on daily lives too, which means it will be necessary to have my characters participate in some of these rituals or preparations for rituals at home.

What I need to know is this:

What feasts/when and holidays/when and seasons (Lent, etc)/when are celebrated by Catholics outside of the church mass itself?

What particular events in a person's life (infant dedications/baptism, Eucharist/first communion, confirmation, etc) would have been so important as to thus require extensive preparation beforehand (ie they're a farm family and it's pre-sewing machine so anything that required a very specific dress or something that took time to make before said ceremony)? And how old would said person(s) be (and what gender) when the events took place?

What types of traditional Irish cuisine would they have eaten during special feast days? I know the potato was a major daily staple, as was milk and milk products, and blood sausage and the like, but I am trying to be pretty historically and culturally accurate within the bounds of my story and again, they weren't completely destitute until the famine struck. For instance, I've heard something about only fish on Fridays or stuff like that, or is there a specific food they give up for Lent, etc?

How often was a good Catholic (mind you, living a couple miles/km from town) supposed to go to Confession? My character is 11 at the start of the novel, and turns 15 the September before she emigrates (and she has younger siblings all girls except one infant brother. However, she has some male cousins and her best friend is the same age as her but has brothers so I will need boy and girl stuff too for them).

Lastly, what was involved with a full nuptial mass? I've been to one when hubby's friend got married over ten years ago, but honestly they burned so much incense and it gave me such a bad migraine I don't remember anything but the incense and that they brought out chairs for the bride and groom and there was a lot of kneeling (it was also the day I got engaged after we went out hiking in fresh air to be rid of the incense headache, so that kinda took precedence in my memory Wink).

I have a character (the main character's aunt) who gets married early on in the book, and my character and her best friend are her bridesmaids, so I will probably need full nuptial mass info sooner rather than later (as they're starting to prepare for the wedding where I'm at in the book).

Basically, in a nutshell I would need the type of Catholic faith-related and food-related and nuptial mass-related stuff that would have impacted a moderately well off Irish farm family in their day to day lives. For instance, if First Communion is a huge deal that requires a special dress and a kid to recite and practice said recitation for a while, then it would have happened at home and fabric purchased in town, etc.

I want the girl's story to be a good portrayal of what would have been lower-middle or maybe middle-class Irish Catholic farm family life living in County Wicklow in 1845.

If anyone who is Irish and Catholic or who knows what an Irish Catholic's life would have looked like then as far as their religion vs daily lives could answer my questions, I would be very, very grateful! Smile

Thanks!

My Middle-earth fan fictions:

https://www.fanfiction.net/u/4534368/tweetzone86

My author website:

https://tweetzone86.wixsite.com/amanda-longpre



(This post was edited by Cirashala on Apr 4, 8:03pm)


AlassŽa Eruvande
Valinor


Apr 5, 4:05am

Post #2 of 16 (1633 views)
Shortcut
Confessions of an Irish Catholic [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll just focus on a couple of things. So much of the Catholic faith depends on tradition as well as doctrine, and each family can have its own customs.

Anyway, today's Catholic is only required to go to confession once a year, preferably in preparation for Easter.
However, a "good" Catholic would go every time they plan to receive the Holy Eucharist, or Communion. This is to be absolved of sin before receiving the Body and Blood of Christ into their own bodies. FYI, the Holy Eucharist has two "species", the bread, or wafer, which is also called the Host, and is the Body of Christ; and the wine, which is the Blood of Christ. Catholics receive the Holy Eucharist at every mass, not just special occasions. They can choose to receive one or the other, both, or neither. (Catholics believe that the little wafer received at Communion is the true Body of Christ and the wine is the true Blood of Christ. Don't ask for an explanation from me; it's an article of faith that I am not qualified to answer.)

Catholics can also go to confession whenever they feel the need to and can get a priest. If your farm family only went into town on Sundays for mass, they would do it before mass each week.

A child makes his first confession (Sacrament of Reconcilliation) just before he receives his first Holy Eucharist (First Communion). The age of the child has changed over the years. When I was a kid, it was first grade. Today it is second grade. The age of 7 is today considered the age when the child knows right from wrong.

As far as special clothing for the First Holy Eucharist, I am not sure when the white dress and veil business started for little girls. I wore one in the 1970s and girls in the classes I taught in the 2010s wore them. Some go a little overboard with the dress and seem to miss the whole point. When I was a kid, my brothers wore white suits, but my own boys wore just a white shirt with dress pants. My Irish Catholic grandfather wore all black around 1908 or so. I'm not sure what a pre-famine Irish girl would wear. I'm sure she would want to look her best, but I can't see the family spending money on a completely impractical white dress.

First Communion, First Reconciliation (Confession) and Confirmation would all require preparation at home or at church and probably both. There are prayers to learn for the first two (The Lord's Prayer and Act of Contrition, to name two). Confirmation is when a young adult becomes sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and strengthened in his baptismal vows, and would also have had more religious education in preparation.

All of these are sacraments in the Catholic Church, and considered very important steps in the spiritual growth of a person. There are seven sacraments;
Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Reconciliation (used to be called Penance), Anointing of the sick (Used to be called Last Rites, but anyone can receive this sacrament, not just those who are dying.)
Matrimony, Holy orders.

About the kneeling. I always hear non-Catholics talk about all the kneeling. Laugh We kneel at every mass for the Liturgy of the Eucharist as a sign of our humility. The mass is a sacrifice in preparation for the actual presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Not symbolically; we believe Christ is there. Here is an explanation.


Some useful websites are Catholic.com and Catholic.org.
Good luck!



I am SMAUG! I kill when I wish! I am strong, strong, STRONG!
My armor is like tenfold shields! My teeth like swords! My claws, spears!
The shock of my tail, a thunderbolt! My wings, a hurricane! And my breath, death!


ElanorTX
Grey Havens


Apr 5, 9:37am

Post #3 of 16 (1604 views)
Shortcut
Irish Catholic 19th-century traditions [In reply to] Can't Post

I spent an hour answering some of your questions, and the machine committed an internal server error and ate them. Mad

If you can figure out a way to PM me in a format I can reply to, I will try again.

Sorry Unsure
ElanorTX

"I shall not wholly fail if anything can still grow fair in days to come."



Cirashala
Tol Eressea


Apr 5, 6:13pm

Post #4 of 16 (1565 views)
Shortcut
I sent an email [In reply to] Can't Post

via the email on your user profile.

Let me know if it works! Thanks! Smile

My writing and novels:

My Hobbit Fanfiction

My historical novel print and kindle version

My historical novels ebook version compatible with all ereaders

You can also find my novel at most major book retailers online (and for those outside the US who prefer a print book, you can find the print version at Book Depository). Search "Amazing Grace Amanda Longpre'" to find it.

Happy reading everyone!


Cirashala
Tol Eressea


Apr 5, 6:15pm

Post #5 of 16 (1563 views)
Shortcut
Thanks Alassea! [In reply to] Can't Post

This is very helpful Smile

My writing and novels:

My Hobbit Fanfiction

My historical novel print and kindle version

My historical novels ebook version compatible with all ereaders

You can also find my novel at most major book retailers online (and for those outside the US who prefer a print book, you can find the print version at Book Depository). Search "Amazing Grace Amanda Longpre'" to find it.

Happy reading everyone!


Ciars
Rohan


Apr 5, 9:56pm

Post #6 of 16 (1557 views)
Shortcut
Some ideas [In reply to] Can't Post

Just off the top of my head! Irish catholics kind of tie together the pagan traditions with their own, so for example all souls night reflects the old Samhain tradition where the veil between the living and dead weakens, they would have left out bread and water for the dead to eat while passing instead of terrorising the living! Soltices were v important and celebrated accordingly. There are also old stone circles, fairy rings, fairy trees (Hawthorn or Ash) that couldnít be cut down or disturbed because they belong to the little people, even in 2016 a motorway was delayed and diverted to avoid one! Wakes are very important to commemorate death, and thereís lots of traditions like covering mirrors, covering windows attached too.
Hospitality is key! There would always have been a pot of something cooking to give a piece to whoever arrived, also at a wake or wedding people would have brought food gifts not to mention home brewed poteen!
Pilgrimages were and remain important, lough Derg, Croagh Patrick, Slemish, Wells such as St Brigid well for example thereís lots! These were and are all seen as demonstrations of faith, with of course celebrations to follow, saints days were causes for celebration and had/have traditions around them like making st Brigid's crosses, leaving tokens.
Mass would have been celebrated outdoors in the past especially in rural places, the old mass rocks would have been fading by famine times but were still used I think. So far as I know white would have been worn by girls for first communion, smart dark suits for boys back then that would have been at 7-8, its now a year older with first confession a year before, both involve a lot of prayers to learn and hymns, singing would have played a major part particularly chants back then at Mass which would have been in Latin back then. Donít forget that the churching tradition would have still been in place then, when women needed to be cleansed after giving birth before reattending mass, thank goodness that particular gem has gone! Shawls/lace head coverings would probably have been worn by most women at mass though most made their own, crocheting, lace making and knitting were useful skills. Parish missions were coming into vogue then when visiting troopes of priest, nuns would go on a weeks visit to a different parish with a focus and plenty of daily services too. Weddings would have been and still are huge events, not sure really if they would have been much different from now, except there probably wouldnít be any cushioned kneelers back then so their poor knees must have ached!
Lent was taken v seriously with only certain collations allowed on Fridays and Ash Wednesday and Holy Week, that is a certain amount of food/meals allowed. Abstinence and fasting were encouraged on Fridays thatís where the fish tradition comes in, as a homage to good Friday.
Storytelling, ceiles, dances would have made up social evenings too.
Soda bread, potato bread, eggs, champ, pancakes, stews, apple /fruit crumbles, occasional pork/meat /chicken would have been staples for food.
Hope thatís of some help!


(This post was edited by Ciars on Apr 5, 10:03pm)


NottaSackville
Tol Eressea


Apr 6, 7:07pm

Post #7 of 16 (1501 views)
Shortcut
And we're both Catholic, too? [In reply to] Can't Post

Smile

Happiness: money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important and so are friends, while envy is toxic -- and so is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude. - The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner as summarized by Lily Fairbairn. And a bit of the Hobbit reading thrown in never hurts. - NottaSackville


Kimi
Forum Admin / Moderator


Apr 6, 9:59pm

Post #8 of 16 (1488 views)
Shortcut
In my own research, I've found [In reply to] Can't Post

contemporary or near-contemporary accounts a *huge* help, for getting a "feel" for the time as well as in being as accurate as possible in the details. 19th century Ireland is not my area of research, so I can't suggest any specific titles, but I do suggest seeking out:
- memoirs of Irish people born in and around that period
- contemporary newspaper accounts (some are available online) - among other things, a great source for available goods and their prices
- fiction by Irish writers written in that period, or by writers born in or around that period
- relevant non-fiction. I remember reading The Great Hunger in high school, and some of its details have stayed with me ever since. (They came back with great vividness when we visited Ireland in 2016.) That was a very readable account, while horrific in many places, but I'm sure there are many others.

I'm sure you know that some aspects of Catholic practices have changed a good deal since the 19th century, and I think the contemporary/near-contemporary sources will give you many details of what was such an important part of life. A small example: an Irish lady we knew well when we lived in England was born about 1920. Her mother had chosen a name for her from Irish mythology. But when she presented the child for baptism, the priest said something along the lines of, "I'm not giving her a heathen name like that. Annie Mary's a good enough name for any girl". And Annie Mary was her legal name for the rest of her life - a name she loathed, and never "went by", other than for official purposes. She told the story as an amusing one, but also as an example of how the priests had had such huge authority in the early C20th.

Here's a link to the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1917, which gives some idea of the pre-Vatican II church practices.


The Passing of Mistress Rose
My historical novels

Do we find happiness so often that we should turn it off the box when it happens to sit there?

- A Room With a View


AlassŽa Eruvande
Valinor


Apr 6, 11:23pm

Post #9 of 16 (1476 views)
Shortcut
Bro! [In reply to] Can't Post

Smile



I am SMAUG! I kill when I wish! I am strong, strong, STRONG!
My armor is like tenfold shields! My teeth like swords! My claws, spears!
The shock of my tail, a thunderbolt! My wings, a hurricane! And my breath, death!

(This post was edited by AlassŽa Eruvande on Apr 6, 11:32pm)


Cirashala
Tol Eressea


Apr 6, 11:58pm

Post #10 of 16 (1466 views)
Shortcut
Thanks Kimi! [In reply to] Can't Post

I will see if I can locate "The Great Hunger" and other contemporary resources Smile

I feel for that poor lady Pirate Annie is a pretty name, and so is Mary, but "Annie Mary" sounds atrocious together Unsure I do have to chuckle a bit though, because one of the characters in my first novel was named Anne-marie (she went by Marie for specific reasons), which is basically that same combo but more French (and I think it flows a bit better than two names that rhyme).

I heard that priests and in general the church had a great deal of authority up til recently, but I didn't realize that a priest could change a child's name just because he didn't care for the chosen name!

(Btw I'm Protestant. More specifically, I attend a Nazarene church currently and have attended Baptist and Assemblies of God denominations in the past Wink). I figured that some things had changed since then (most churches evolve a little bit nowadays), but since the Catholic church is so steeped in tradition, I wasn't sure how much had changed in the past 180 years.

Thanks for that link too! I will check it out Smile

My writing and novels:

My Hobbit Fanfiction

My historical novel print and kindle version

My historical novels ebook version compatible with all ereaders

You can also find my novel at most major book retailers online (and for those outside the US who prefer a print book, you can find the print version at Book Depository). Search "Amazing Grace Amanda Longpre'" to find it.

Happy reading everyone!


(This post was edited by Cirashala on Apr 7, 12:01am)


Gianna
Rohan


Apr 7, 2:47am

Post #11 of 16 (1448 views)
Shortcut
Regarding the age for First Communion/Confession [In reply to] Can't Post

The age for receiving First Communion and confession is seven now, but that was clarified in the early 1900's -- before that, the age was early-mid teens (thanks to the influence of a specific heresy in the 17th/18th centuries). In 1845, an 11-year-old might receive her First Communion, but I would guess she would normally be a little older than that yet. Maybe 13 or 14.

"The men of the East may search the scrolls,
For sure fates and fame,
But the men that drink the blood of God
Go singing to their shame."

-G.K. Chesterton, The Ballad of the White Horse, Book I

------
My fantasy novels


ElanorTX
Grey Havens


Apr 9, 7:21am

Post #12 of 16 (1409 views)
Shortcut
age for sacraments of initiation - 19th century [In reply to] Can't Post

baptism - usually within 3 days of birth, certainly the next Sunday, done by parish priest
many families had a lacy long white gown for baptism which was used for each child

VERY IMPORTANT - the child would have 2-3 godparents, typically close relatives or friends, at least age 14
Godparents were valued for spiritual guidance and a a source of extra attention and gifts

first confession - at age of reason, 7 years
no special clothing

girls and women always covered their hair in Mass or before the Blessed Sacrament with a mantilla or chapel veil

first Communion - after first confession, up to age 10 or so, done by parish priest
clothing depended on local custom; city girls from well-off families might already be wearing a white dress, in other areas that dress was for confirmation and school graduation
boys might wear white shirt and dark pants or knee pants

Confirmation - age 12 up, done at parish by bishop of area cathedral

"I shall not wholly fail if anything can still grow fair in days to come."



ElanorTX
Grey Havens


Apr 9, 7:39am

Post #13 of 16 (1410 views)
Shortcut
marriage customs [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
I have a character (the main character's aunt) who gets married early on in the book, and my character and her best friend are her bridesmaids, so I will probably need full nuptial mass info sooner rather than later (as they're starting to prepare for the wedding where I'm at in the book).
Generally official witnesses to a wedding were at least 14 and had received baptism, penance, communion, and confirmation. Your hero may be too young: try adding a matron of honor and making the bride also your hero's godmother.

The luckiest day for weddings was Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent begins. No weddings were permitted anytime in Lent and usually not in Advent (the four weeks before Christmas) or on certain holy days. The upcoming marriage had to be announced (the "banns") by the parish priest on three consecutive Sundays and/or days of obligation.

The fast before Communion began at midnight, therefore the nuptial mass usually started between 9 am and noon and was followed by a wedding breakfast for all in attendance.

In 1840 the bride's gown was not inevitably white. Her veil could be anywhere from shoulder-length to fingertip or chapel length. She would also have a second-day dress for travel or receiving guests. The family might call in a professional dressmaker.

"I shall not wholly fail if anything can still grow fair in days to come."



(This post was edited by ElanorTX on Apr 9, 7:46am)


ElanorTX
Grey Havens


Apr 9, 8:25am

Post #14 of 16 (1410 views)
Shortcut
liturgical calendar [In reply to] Can't Post

What feasts/when and holidays/when and seasons (Lent, etc)/when are celebrated by Catholics outside of the church mass itself?

Every Sunday is considered a little Easter and is a day when attending Mass is obligatory. There are additional holy days of obligation depending on the country and time period. I am guessing that in 1840's Ireland many of the Marian feasts such as the Assumption on August 15th would be mandatory. Other dates, e.g., Midsummer/St. John the Baptist (June 24) and Halloween/All Saints (Nov 1st), are marked in most countries. St. Patrick's Day was more of a family day like American Thanksgiving, partly because it always fell during Lent. I've mentioned Lent and Advent elsewhere.

Church decoration varied in style and color during the year: green, white for Easter and some saints, red for martyrs, purple for Advent and Lent, black for funerals.

Each parish and person has a patron saint or feast day. Let's say your parish is St. Cecilia, which makes its feast day fall on November 22nd. There would be a procession, special Mass, and many folk customs suited to the season. If your hero doesn't have a saint's name, you can give her a first name such as Mary, Anne, or Margaret for a girl and John or Joseph for a boy. Your personal feast day would be celebrated like a birthday, with festive food and small religious and secular gifts. For Confirmation you would choose for yourself a second saint whom you wished to emulate in your faith journey. Catherine (of Siena), Teresa (of Avila), et al., are good examples of strong women.

Remember that godparents will be included in home celebrations.

In your time period, Catholic families would pray the Rosary together every night, typically before bedtime for the younger children. Back then there were 15 mysteries (commemorations) in a full rosary, of which 13 have a biblical basis. A family would pray 5 of these.




"I shall not wholly fail if anything can still grow fair in days to come."



SirDennisC
Half-elven


Apr 12, 2:12pm

Post #15 of 16 (1362 views)
Shortcut
Depends - [In reply to] Can't Post

are the traditions meant to add colour, or to utterly define your hero?

In preparation, you may enjoy The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris, a self described lapsed Protestant, who undertakes to plumb the depth and beauty of Catholic faith and tradition by living among Benedictines for a time.



(This post was edited by entmaiden on Apr 13, 2:00pm)


Cirashala
Tol Eressea


Apr 12, 4:49pm

Post #16 of 16 (1349 views)
Shortcut
more to add color [In reply to] Can't Post

and to round out the character's daily life.

Basically, if Catholicism was a huge part of the daily lives of most Irish Catholics in 1845-1849 timeline, then the absence of them would be very obvious if my character's family are devout Catholics.

I wouldn't necessarily say she eats and breaths catechism and the like per se, but they would have participated in the expected rituals and feasts of their parish, and it is those I needed more information for so that her life would be a realistic depiction of an 11-12 year old girl (in 1845 at the beginning of the story) in Ireland farm country in 1845.

For instance, her aunt gets engaged and wedding preparations need to begin in ch 1, so I would need to include what preparations would have been needed for such an event. Or the praying of the Rosary as a family every night, or her younger sister having her First Communion ceremony, etc and needing new attire or having to sit at the kitchen table practicing her recitation over and over again in preparation for it, etc.

I won't be spending a ton of time in the Mass itself, but I would need what aspects of their faith would have been involved in their daily, outside-of-mass lives. They would have done more than just plant potatoes and milk a cow, and the faith-based stuff would be one of the many aspects of her character and her family and friends that would help round out the character and make her more three dimensional, rather than two dimensional.

To all who replied-thanks a bunch! It is very helpful!

My writing and novels:

My Hobbit Fanfiction

My historical novel print and kindle version

My historical novels ebook version compatible with all ereaders

You can also find my novel at most major book retailers online (and for those outside the US who prefer a print book, you can find the print version at Book Depository). Search "Amazing Grace Amanda Longpre'" to find it.

Happy reading everyone!

 
 

Search for (options) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.3

home | advertising | contact us | back to top | search news | join list | Content Rating

This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law. Design and original photography however are copyright © 1999-2012 TheOneRing.net. Binary hosting provided by Nexcess.net

Do not follow this link, or your host will be blocked from this site. This is a spider trap.