The Irish in America

Maureen’s Special May Day Post

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The Presentation of the Rich Girl and the Poor Girl and the May Crowning

© Novena Art/Joe DeVito. Used by permission.

© Novena Art/Joe DeVito. Used by permission.

May First is Our Lady’s Feast Day. Two girls would be chosen in advance to be presented to Her. We were all very excited, wondering who would be picked for that great honor. The “rich girl” would be either a doctor’s, shopkeeper’s or farmer’s daughter and the “poor girl” would be from a needy family. One of my friends still remembers being dressed up as a nun. The rich girl’s parents would buy her a beautiful blue dress, black patent leather shoes with dainty anklet socks. The poor girl would be given a new frock of dull, serviceable cloth (convent stuff, we called it) and wore her own shoes and socks. The “poor girl” would later wear the dress which lasted a long time; although modest, it was a new after all. The contrast between the girls was indeed startling.

As the procession began, dressed in our best dresses, we lined up behind a nun and the “girls,” who were carrying the flower garlands crafted by the nuns, all the while singing hymns. We walked through the long school-yard into the extremely hot greenhouse with its geraniums and grape vines, along the garden path reverently approaching the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the nun’s garden and cemetery where the crowning of Our Lady took place. As the presentation ceremony took place, we sang the hymn, titled “Bring Flowers of the Rarest.”

Bring flows of the fairest,

Bring flows of the rarest,

From garden and woodland and hillside and vale;

Our full hearts are swelling,

Our Glad voices telling

The praise of the loveliest,

Rose of the vale.

Oh Mary! We crown thee with blossoms today,

Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May;

Oh Mary! We crown thee with blossoms today,

Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May.

Our voices ascending,

In harmony blending,

Oh! Thus may our hearts turn

Dear Mother, to thee;

Oh! Thus shall we prove thee,

How truly we love thee,

How dark without Mary

Life’s journey would be.

Oh Mary! We crown thee with blossoms today,

Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May.

O Virgin most tender,

Our homage we render,

Thy love and protection,

Sweet Mother, to win;

In danger defend us,

In sorrow befriend us,

And shield our hearts,

From contagion and sin.

Oh Mary! We crown thee with blossoms today;

Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May.

Oh Mary! We crown thee with blossoms today;

Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May.

Of Mothers the dearest,

Oh, wilt thou be nearest,

When life with temptation,

Is darkly replete?

Forsake us, O Never!

Our hearts be they ever,

As pure as the lilies

We lay at thy feet.

Oh Mary! We crown thee with blossoms today;

Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May.

Oh Mary! We crown thee with blossoms today;

Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May.

May Day always seemed to me to be a sunny day in Milltown when I was a girl. We liked to think She was favoring us and smiling down upon us.

About the author…

Maureen, 1953

Maureen, 1953

Maureen Angela Teahan was born in September 1928, Milltown, County Kerry, Ireland. She was the firstborn of a large family. The household included a maternal grandfather and an older cousin, all living in a small thatched home. Maureen was educated at Presentation School and received her Leaving Certification from Presentation Secondary School, Milltown, 1944. She emigrated from Ireland in 1947 and lived in Lawrence, Mass.  Maureen worked at the Wood Worsted Mills for two years until they closed and moved their operations south. After that she was employed as a nanny for a year, also in Lawrence. Then she moved to Boston and worked for the First National Stores (FINAST) in the meat department. During that time she met her future husband and left FINAST when she married Patrick Murray in 1952. Maureen raised three children and was active with volunteer work, the church and community. Her hobbies included reading, sewing, cooking and gardening for as long as she was able.

 

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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...

3 thoughts on “Maureen’s Special May Day Post

  1. Pingback: Meet Maureen (Part I) | The Irish in America

  2. Pingback: Day Eleven of Irish American Favorites: Maureen Teahan Murray | The Irish in America

  3. I love these posts that recount how things were – your own history. With hindsight, wasn’t it appalling that Christian women would highlight privilege and poverty in that way? I wonder if Mary approved! I am sure that could not happen nowadays as everyone is treated as equal. Thanks for the memory!

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