No Twixing or Crossing - A Collection of Traveller Folklore by Michael Fortune

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No Twixing No Twixing or or Crossing Crossing Transcribed and interpreted by artist/folklorist Michael Fortune from conversations with a group of Traveller Women from Bunclody A production in association with Wexford Library Services A collection of superstitions, A collection of superstitions, beliefs, rituals, cures, beliefs, rituals, cures, verses and stories verses and stories from Bunclody, from Bunclody, Co. Wexford. Co. Wexford.

No Twixing or Crossing

Transcribed and interpreted by artist/folklorist Michael Fortune from conversations with a group of Traveller Women from Bunclody.

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This publication was produced by Michael Fortune with the support of Wexford Library Services and supported by facilitators Sally Murphy and Celine Cash from the WWETB in Bunclody. The project was funded through the Dormant Account Funds via the Department of Rural and Community Development with the support of Wexford County Council.

All images and design by Michael Fortune/Canva. Printed by Walsh Print, Castleisland, Co. Kerry. © Michael Fortune/Wexford Library Services.

First published in 2023.

ISBN 978-1-7398403-1-0

Introduction by Michael Fortune

No Twixing or Crossing is the title of this collectio of beliefs and superstitions which I produced as a result of conversations with a group of Traveller women from the Bunclody area of County Wexford January and February 2023.

The content shared here with me is practiced, believed and multi-layered. This is not ' copy and paste' folklore. Instead, these accounts are real an transcribed from the mouths of those who practice immediately striking about this collection is the lac with the stories.

For many folklorists, collectors and historians, this all the standards of recording and documenting, as the person ' s name is a vital part of the story. However, this was the condition that the group made with me prior to this publication; all the stories were to be nameless.

Naturally at first I thought this would throw up archiving and validity questions but after the first session with the women, I could see it made sense for them. It made sense as the stories were communal and collective and they were the shared voices of the women. The stories were of and from their community and not the individual. The stories had a purpose and there was no interest in whose voice it was or who owned them - that didn’t matter, as they all owned the folklore.

The women agreed that my phone could be used to voice record the chats as I simply would not remember the content as stories were flying at me left, right and centre. The thing is, I grew up in a rural working-class house in Wexford where these kinds of conversations took place in the same manner and at the same pace so this was natural territory for me.

The sessions were multi-layered and multi-voiced with loads of natural cross-talking, side chats, laughs, jokes, messing and general busyness. In many cases, the stories shared here don’t just belong within the Travelling Community, they are found right across the county and the country.


However it is the currency that they hold in this community that strikes me. The beliefs and stories have a reason to exist as they are valued and practiced. As a result, these beliefs, customs, expressions etc often change slightly as they are passed on in the traditional manner of word of mouth. Sometimes they take on different meanings and things get lost, re-shaped and moulded to suit the lives of those who tell them. That is okay as there are no rules or right or wrong when it comes to folk belief and practice - we all do what works for us.

In saying all of this, I do not want to underplay the great sessions we had making and chatting and working together. The activities around making crêpe paper flowers was something special, likewise the St. Brigid’s crosses. These meant something to the group as the flowers brought back memories for the older women who made them as children while learning how to make St. Brigid's crosses meant a lot to the women.

For the last session, my own daughters came in with me and we sang, chatted, told jokes and riddles and made more stuff and as I was leaving the group gave me a plate which I will cherish dearly. I love the content in this publication however I will remember the relationships and the craic that I had with the woman the most. So thanks a million all.

Paper Flowers made by Traveller women Rush Rattle by a group member for Michael
St Brigid's Crosses made by the group Plate gifted to Michael from the group

Philomena’s Cord.

I buys a whole bag of it.

My little lad wears it on his foot.

I buys the whole rope and cut it off for all the children.

I put the Blessed Palm on the hands of Our Lady.
I feels guilty to throw out Blessed Palm.
I'd have to let it weather away.

You should keep straw from the crib and you’ll have good luck all year around.

I put the straw in the crib at Christmas.

I put a bit of straw on the statue of the Sacred Heart while I put it on


She has two children, God Bless Them.

And do you know where they have their medals?

One is on his vest and the other pinned into her nappy where it won’t hurt her.


When it comes to holy things you don’t throw them out. If you had too many holy statues you’d leave them at a Holy Well or out in the garden for luck.

You’d feel guilty and wouldn’t throw them out.

You’d feel bad. If a statue breaks on us we say it’s for luck.

You “breaks a bigger cross ” - that’s what they say.


If someone hasn’t got any family, leave them standing for your child.

That do work. It brings luck.

If they want a child it brings them luck.

I see that happening.

You are not allowed to stand for two children in the same 12 months.


Don’t feed a baby after 6 o ’clock in the evening.

Only give them milk but not food.

That was to do with colic.

No spoon feeding after 6 o ’clock.

You You can’tcan’t g get a babby's et a babby's hair cut before hair cut before 12 months 12 months.. The crown The crown wouldn’t be wouldn’t be closed properly. closed properly. 10

You get someone to make you a Lucky Bundle for the labour ward. You need a baby grow, a nappy, a vest, a safety pin, a blanket, mittens, a wrapper, a medal, a bottle of holy water, a memory card, a dodie….

Everything you need for a baby first. You get someone that don’t have children or are wanting children and it brings them luck. The memory card would be someone


My husband blessed all our children before they went to bed.

Upside down. The last thing you do at night. You catch them by the two hips and really quickly, turn them upside down and you gently bounce them and say....

“In the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Amen, In the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Amen, In the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Amen".

I still do it still with my own grandchildren.


They say if a foal is born on a Whit Monday, you’d never manage the foal. It could never be tamed.

They’d ate you.


Tea makes a baby clever.


Never step over a babby as it will stop the growth.

Never pass a babby across a table or put him in through a window.

Even the window of a car.

Always open the door and hand him in.


Years ago they gave the children a spoon of Guinness for worms. Kills the worms.


Whiskey stops the growth in a dog.

A Baby Power does.

I fed it to a pup of mine. day ger ler. wth.


If someones bumps their head off someone always bump back or they will never grow.

The first thing you do when you hear an ambulance is bless yourself.
When a robin comes in November it is good luck.

Never touch a swallow's nest.

Very unlucky.

You’d never go near any nest at all.


A Full Connors married to a Full Connors and their wedding ring will cure a stye in your eye.

Their wedding ring will cure it and it has to be blessed three times.

Can’t be your own either though.


If you buy a box of fags. The first fag you take out, you turn it upside down. That will be the last fag that you’d smoke.

Say if you see, 11 minutes past 11 on your phone you make a wish.

As a child if you held your fingers

crossways you could tell a lie. But then you’d be checked and they'd (parents) ask to show your fingers in case they were crossed.

They'd say " no twixing or crossing or no that eir

You'd also howld out your tongue to see if it was black either. That was to see if you were telling lies.

Some of the young Traveller girls had this curse where they said;

“I may never get married or have a family”.

Now that was the worse curse. That would be no lie. That would be Bible.

You couldn’t tell lies with that.

That was a serious curse now.

That was a Bible curse.


Wet Sunday, Wet Monday, Wet Week.

This means if you have a wet Sunday and a wet Monday you will always have a wet week coming.

That's true.


Happy is the bride that sun shines on.

Happy is the corpse that rain falls on.


The Cowld Stone goes back into the water after the 15th of August.

That means the swimming is over.

On Lady Day.


Say if you went to a place and you didn’t like it and you have a bad experience it it, you say

“I’d turn a stone in that place and never be got there again”.
I often said it but I never did it.

If you put the egg whites on a baby's bum it stops nappy rash. Just the white of it. Let it dry.


When a girl gets engaged you twist the ring three times on your finger without touching the diamond and you can’t wish for love, money or happiness.

You can wish for a boy or a girl and we always wished for a good mother-in-law. The ring has to be blessed.


You take a hair from a You take a hair from a mother's head mother's head that is pregnant. that is pregnant.

You put it on her You put it on her wedding ring wedding ring and and if it goes one way it’s a girl and the if it goes one way it’s a girl and the other way a boy. other way a boy.

If it goes If it goes side to side side to side it’s a boy it’s a boy and if it goes in a and if it goes in a circle circle it’s a girl. it’s a girl.


If you have a wart, get a potato and rub it on it and hide the potato and when the potatoes rots, your wart will go away.

You can also do it with a Pokey Snail and do the same and put it on a thorny bush.

You can also do it with a piece of meat.


There’s a fella in There’s a fella in Carlow Carlow who gets a who gets a piece of straw and piece of straw and touches the wart touches the wart..

He He blesses it blesses it and then brings it to his and then brings it to his father's grave father's grave. So when the . So when the straw dies straw dies off so will the wart. off so will the wart.

II tthink hink he’s dead since. he’s dead since.


If you see someone with really good thick hair, that’s the person you get to cut your children’s hair.

God bless ‘ em and save ‘ em.

I wouldn’t mind them cutting the girls hair.


Anyone that’s in bad form, you should never let them cut your hair.


You’d always trim your hair on Good Friday. Only a person with good hair can do it.

Never let anyone with bad hair do it.

The luckiest time to get your hair cut is the last Friday of the month.

Whoever finds the baby’s first tooth meant they were going to have to buy the baby it’s first new pair of shoes.

They say if a child gets up his first tooth it's good for his chest.

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“Going to Tramore” meant you were expecting a baby. Also “Buying a new pair of boots” also meant you were pregnant.

We leave out the scarf on St. Bridget’s Day for Bridget to bless.

It’s good for sore throats. St. Bridget walks the land on that night. (The 31st of January)

I always leave the scarf out on the door of the mobile.

We spell her Bridget not Brigid.

folklore ie

You wouldn’t curse a widow woman.

You wouldn’t torment her either. Bad luck.

You wouldn’t make a widow woman cry. It’s seven years bad luck if you do.

An ounce of breeding is worth a ton of feeding.
It means if you are good bred.

There are no pockets in a coffin or a towbar on a hearse.

You can't take it with you.

Fishermen would give you their right arm for a cawl.

They wouldn’t drown if they had one.

It’s a veil over a babby's head.

They say the babby was gift wrapped.

They also said your house wouldn’t burn down if you had it.

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