"St. Swithin's Day, if it does rain,
Full forty days, it will remain,
St. Swithin's Day, if it be fair,
For forty days, t'will rain no more".
Considering the spate of rain that has hit the Emerald Isle over the last few months, the thoughts of a further 40 days of it would bring you to your knees. But tradition has it that if it rains on St Swithin's Day, we are promised another 40 days of it. But who was St Swithin and why is he associated with such a dire weather prediction?
From Catholic Encyclopedia:
"ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hast made this day honourable for us by the translation of blessed Swithun, thy Confessor and Bishop: Grant thy Church joy in this feast, that we who reverently celebrate his memory on earth may by his prayers be lifted up to heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
Not a very satisfactory explanation for the rain connection; so having another look around the Internet for an explanation, we came across this:
A legend says that as the Bishop lay on his deathbed, he asked to be buried out of doors, where he would be trodden on and rained on. For nine years, his wishes were followed, but then, the monks of Winchester attempted to remove his remains to a splendid shrine inside the cathedral on 15 July 971. According to legend there was a heavy rain storm either during the ceremony or on its anniversary.
This led to the old wives' tale (folklore) that if it rains on St Swithin's Day (July 15th), it will rain for the next 40 days in succession, and a fine 15th July will be followed by 40 days of fine weather.
More information on St Swithin:
Catholic Saints Info
The Catholic Herald
Irish Independent - "Let's all pray for an end to rain, urges bishop"
and grant unto our supplications a calm atmosphere,
that we, who are justly afflicted for our sins,
may, by Your protecting mercy, experience pardon.
Through Christ our Lord.