Month of the Cuckoo – Scairbhin

Cardamine pratensis – Cuckoo flower

The Scairbhín na gCuach (pronounced skara-veen) translates as ‘the rough month of the cuckoo’ from the phrase ‘garbh mi na gcuach’ and refers to the period comprising the last two weeks of April, and the first two weeks of May (15.4.-15.5.). These few weeks are often marked with changeable extremes of weather patterns.

People who worked the land and were in tune with the seasons knew this as ‘the hunger time’ of the year because they were busy planting and tending their crops.

They believed that the Scarbhin was nature’s way of ensuring the crops success by the initial unseasonal warm weather allowing seeds to germinate, a sudden cold snap would then harden off the young seedlings and the following wind and gales would distribute the pollen and this all coincided with the return of the cuckoo.


Cuckoos overwinter in Africa.

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