Dé Luain, Nollaig 26, 2011

An Old Rathlin custom on New Years Eve

There was an old New Years Eve custom which survived in Rathlin until the 1950s, the ‘Cóllainn’.

Here is a description by the Reverend Coslett Ó Cuinn (my transation):

“Cóllainn [Hogmany], or little Christmas, crowd of people used to go around with a bag, collecting for old women, lone widows and the poor people. One of the people would have a sheep skin, and they would cut a piece to give it as a ‘receipt’ for whatever they would get. The people of the house would put away that peice, as they hoped it would bring them luck.”

On entering the house, they would preceed to recite verse in Irish - "Cóllainn, Cóllainn ...."

We are lucky that a number of recordings of the 'Cóllainn' survive.

Ó Cuinn (Cosslett): Iarsmaí ó oileán Reachrann.
In Éigse 6, 1948/52, (pt. 3, 1951), pp. 248–56.
Stories and verse, and words and phrases from Rathlin Island (Co. Antrim).


  1. Obair mhath a rinn sibh air a' làrach seo!! Móran taing!

  2. How great to hear the voice of Thomas's great uncle Bob McCormick who Thomas remembered with great affection and was the source of so much of the island folklore which Thomas loved and the tremendous kindness to him as a child.
    Mary Cecil

  3. robert was a great person in every sense of the word.i spent a lot of my very young life in his company,i always sat in the pub with robert and his close friends
    to listen to all their stories.i could write a book on those times.just for the record---i asked my dad who was the best soccer player in dads young days////robert was brilliant he said,let him get the ball and you couldnt get it back again.thanks for the memories robert.lj