The Irish in America

What’s Whit Week?

4 Comments

Whit Week Procession (postcard sent to Annie Hill Regan)

Whit Week is here and that can mean only one thing…hmmmm…I wonder what that could be?  If this was the early twentieth-century in Manchester, England, odds are it would mean donning a new white dress and marching in a Whit week procession like the ladies pictured above.

Since the demise of the Whit Monday bank holiday in the UK in 1967 and Ireland in 1973, I am not sure how much attention is  paid to the week following Pentecost (read more about Whitsun by clicking here.)

This photo of a Whit Week parade appears on a postcard from the early twentieth century, and survives in a small collection of photos and cards that belonged to my great-grandmother Annie Hill Regan (born in Kildare, emigrated to Minnesota 1899.)  With no postmark, no address, and rather ambiguous greeting and signature (both are Push), this little card is a bit puzzling.  My best guess is that the card came to Annie from her younger sister Bridget Hill Reynolds of Manchester, England.  From what I have read, processions like this were more popular in England, and the postcard mentions “our Maggie” – Bridget had a daughter named Maggie, who eventually emigrated to America joining her Aunt Annie in Minnesota.

The card mentions looking forward to a visit “next year.”  I wonder if Annie ever did travel from Minnesota to Manchester, England to visit her sister’s family?  Did she return home to Ireland on this visit?  I have searched for possible documentation of such a journey, but so far have come up empty.  I will have to keep at it and see what I can find.

Reverse of postcard

Maybe you can help me figure this photo out…

  • Have you seen Push as a nickname or slang in correspondence from the early 20th century?
  • Do the dresses provide a more concrete date to this photo?
  • Is Whitsun or Whit Week still observed in Ireland and England?

Any ideas?  Please leave a comment!

Have a good week!

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Author: Aine

I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota. My heritage pretty much covers the map of Ireland: great-great-grandparents from Cork (Crowley, Foley, Regan), a great-great-grandmother from Clare (Quinn), a great-great-grandfather from Fermanagh (McMahon) and his wife's parents from Mayo (McAndrew), a great-grandmother from Connemara (Hannon) married to my great-grandfather from Laois (McCormack), great-grandparents from Sligo (Flannery), and a great-grandmother from Kildare (Hill). All of those people ended up in Minnesota, where my four grandparents were born. Three and four generations after my people left Ireland for America, I retain all Irish heritage. So much for the melting pot...

4 thoughts on “What’s Whit Week?

  1. My mother was born and raised in Manchester until she met and married my Dad in 1953. He was in the USAF and stationed at Burton Wood. Whit Week was a wonderful celebration with every parish “walking” for miles to the center of town. Practically everyone in Manchester turned out to watch the parade. There was often a good booze up as well. I still have some family in England and from what I hear Whit Week is still observed although it’s not the same anymore. It’s a shame – nothing lasts forever, or as my mother would say today, “there’s nothing nice anymore”.

    • Thank you so much for the information! Judging from the postcard I have, it looked to be quite a big deal. I agree that it is a shame to see the traditions die out, or morph into something alltogether different. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Pingback: She Liked Nice Things | The Irish in America

  3. Your post as always interesting and thought provoking.

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