The Legacy of Ireland's Curses: Background information when reading The Butchers' Blessing

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The Butchers' Blessing

by Ruth Gilligan

The Butchers' Blessing by Ruth Gilligan X
The Butchers' Blessing by Ruth Gilligan
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2020, 312 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2021, 305 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Callum McLaughlin
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About this Book

The Legacy of Ireland's Curses

This article relates to The Butchers' Blessing

Ballaun featuring three smaller stones sitting in the depression of a larger flat stone In Ruth Gilligan's novel The Butchers' Blessing, we meet a small yet devoted group of people who strive to uphold historic, ritualistic methods of cattle slaughter in 1990s Ireland. They do this in accordance with their continued belief in the power of the so-called "Curse of the Farmer's Widow." Born of an ancient folktale of unknown origin, the curse is said to stem from the grief of a bereaved wife and mother. Having lost her husband and seven sons to the brutality of war, she vowed to poison the land of any farmer who failed to honor her grief, demanding that eight men be present for the killing of each animal (one to pay respect to each of the loved ones she lost).

Although this particular scenario is fictional, Gilligan likely drew inspiration from the legacy of Ireland's rich folkloric canon to form the tale, and the country's respect for these types of traditions is still very much alive. Curses play a particularly important role in many such stories. In fact, the old Irish ...

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