Surf and Sea Festival Tramore Celebrates Michaelmas Day
St Michael’s Day or Michaelmas day is celebrated in or around the 29th September.
This years parade starts at 5pm on Sunday 21st. Molly will be displayed (weather permitting) on the prom from lunchtime on Sunday and at Oceanics during the week. Molly will be covered with fresh seaweed on the day prior to be paraded down to the sea.
The celebration originates from the autumn equinoxes which in Celtic Times marked the end of the harvest season. St Michael’s Day in various parts of the country meant the end of the fishing season and the start of hunting. In Tramore with St. Michael being the patron saint of seafarers, St. Michael’s Day traditionally marked the end of season for bathing in Tramore Bay and the end of the summer tourist season. Traditional local lore considered that the sea was for fairies (the little people!) from October to June.
During the tourist season which started every June the bathing ladies of the town worked all season maintaining the bathing boxes for the visiting bathers and caring and teaching the visitor’s children to swim. The tradition in Tramore in the 1900’s on Michaelmas Day was for the bathing ladies to make a seaweed doll and then go from house to house in the town where they would receive a token of appreciation from the people of the town for their hard work over the summer months. The bathing ladies would parade through the town with the dolls they had made and then down to the sea where they were cast out as an offerings in celebration of Michaelmas Day. Local lore at the time said that if the doll washed up in the Back Strand of Tramore bay it would mean that the next season would be a very good summer.
The Tramore Surf and Sea Festival was originally incorporated to celebrate Oceanics 10 years in operation and further developed to incorporate a celebration of women and their relationship with the sea within the community. The festival first celebrated this by encouraging ladies to get involved with the ocean though surfing.
In honour of Michaelmas and the old bathing ladies of Tramore, the festival has revived the tradition of creating a seaweed doll. “Molly” the festivals seaweed doll is made of willow and seaweed collected from Tramore beach every year and is completely eco-friendly.
Each year Molly constructed of willow and dressed with seaweed is then paraded down the prom from Oceanic’s Surf School, handed over to the Festival Organisers on Sunday (the Family Fun Day), and resides on the prom till the parade that evening, where to the sounds of a piper and accompanied by surfers, volunteers, townspeople and visitors, Molly is cast out to sea like our seaside ancestors did almost 100 years ago.
Molly today represents a celebration of women and the sea, a celebration of Tramore, it’s community and maritime tradition, gratitude for the tourist season and a celebration of the start of a new surfing season in Tramore.
Part of the aim of the festival is to highlight the fact that whilst the traditional bathing season is drawing to a close, Michaelmas Day denotes an equinox and change of seasons when surfing conditions in Ireland improve for the autumn/winter period and so begins a whole new season of activity.
The Tramore Surf and Sea Festival is a promotion of Tramore’s unique selling points as an easily accessible, beautiful natural resource where activities are in abundance. Our aim for the festival is to offer visitors and local residents alike an opportunity to partake in the celebration of the Sea, Surfing and the Maritime Heritage of the South East town of Tramore in Co. Waterford.
Festival Chairperson Linda Tuohy of Oceanics Surf School and the festival committee wish to thank all our sponsors and participants over the last few years and we very much look forward to seeing you at the 2013 festival.