The erection and decoration of The May Bush is something which is recounted fondly in Castlebridge. The tradition was widespread throughout Co. Wexford from Ballindaggin to Ballygarrett, Kilrush to Kilmore. The May Bush tradition, which many claim was introduced to Ireland from England, involves the erection of a bush (whitethorn or gorse) on the eve of May Day. Traditionally the bush is decorated with bunches of flowers (cowslips, primroses, daisies etc), ribbons and painted egg shells saved since Easter Sunday. 
I have encountered May Bushes on my travels with work in counties Waterford, Cork, Kilkenny and Offaly. However they become rarer as you travel West and cross the Shannon. To this day, they can be spotted in county Wexford in peoples yards and gardens, however it has been decades since one was erected in Castlebridge. In some cases, communities would erect a community bush in a village or at a crossroads and a dance with traditional music would be held on May Day. Kathleen Halpin recounted to me that a local man called Johnny Carberry would play the accordion at the May Bush dance at Bennett’s Cross when she was growing up. 

A particular Wexford tradition was to place the bush on top of the dung heap which suggested fertility and growth, which would further stress the Pagan aspect of the custom. The erection at a cross roads seemed to be common in Wexford and my own grandmother told me that she remembers the May Bush being erected at a cross roads in Killenagh, where a dance too would be held. The erection of the bush at Bennett’s Cross further cements the crossroads as a place for social activity within rural communities in the past; often miles outside of the neighbouring village which was the case in this instance.

The May Bush

Bennett’s Cross, Castlebridge, Co. Wexford