This May Bush garden sculpture is a commission piece. Made for presentation to a retiring teacher in a local school who kept the tradition alive during his tenure.
A little about the piece
The upper section consists of a large piece of live edge ash timber, sourced from a local sawmill in New Ross. This acts as a frame for the five leaded stained glass panels and sits on a polished concrete base. It stands 1.6 metres high (5′ 3″) and 500 mm (20″) wide, with the base measuring 300 mm x 495 mm (12″ x 19″). The base has a 15 mm hole in each corner enabling the structure to be fixed into the ground. These garden sculptures are unique one-off pieces and are available to order, prices range between €400 to €1200.
The May Bush Custom
The custom of decorating a bush for May Day in Ireland goes right back to Pagan times. One of the many rituals celebrating fertility, rebirth and the start of summer taking place on ” Beltane“. This was the Celtic festival of fire held on 1st May between the Spring equinox and Summer solstice.
It is still widespread in County Wexford where it even has its own Facebook page. On May Day morning the children would get a small Hawthorn bush in blossom. Upon this, they would tie ribbons, tinsel and coloured paper. Old Christmas decorations and even painted eggshells from Easter.
They would then parade the festooned bush around the village, collecting pennies on the way. In the end, they would burn the bush and spend their pennies.
It seems appropriate, given the time of year to share ” The Green Man ” with you.
This is my Green Man stained glass panel, he is 17 inches in diameter. The total number of pieces in this panel is approx 56. If you search for The Green Man online you will find a huge variety of images in all sorts of mediums. From pub signs to wall plaques, it has also become very popular with stained glass artists. This is my take on the subject here using Youghiogheny Stipple Glass. The variation pictured below is 12-inch diameter and uses cathedral glass. Even though I have adapted the pattern you can see the difference in how the choice of glass affects the look of the panel.
The history of the Green Man image dates right back to pagan times. Found in many forms the most common feature being foliage sprouting from his face. He symbolises the cycle of life, death and rebirth, heralding in Spring after the long dark Winter. Although the image has adorned many ancient buildings the Term “Green Man” is more modern. In doing my research for this post I have come across a great many different stories of our foliated friend. One thing is for sure though he is around to stay, there is even an annual festival held in Wales.
There are strong Irish connections among many others in pagan folklore. Most of these centre around Beltane the Celtic festival of fire. Held on the 1st of May between the Spring equinox and the Summer solstice and also known as a cross-quarter day. There would be feasting and rituals celebrating fertility and rebirth. Fires were lit and the cattle were driven through the smoke to protect them from disease.