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Contributed by Lorraine O’Dwyer
There were no magpies in Ireland once upon a time. Plenty of crows but non of their handsome black and white family members. That is until a terrible storm in the 1680s not long after that infamous villain Cromwell had visited these same shores.
Colonel Solomon Richards, a veteran officer in Cromwell’s army lived in Wexford town. His descendants still remain in Wexford, though further up the coastline these days.
Colonel Richards wrote in his diary
“there came with a black easterly wind, a flight of magpies, under a dozen, as I remember out of England, or Wales, none having ever been seen in, Ireland before. They lighted in the Barony of Forth where they have bred and are 59 increased, that they are now in every village and wood in this county. My own garden, though in the town of Wexford is continually frequented by them and they are spread, more thinly into other counties and parts of the kingdom”
Furthermore the local Irish, hated the birds with a vengeance as the Colonel goes on to say
“The native Irish much detest them, saying they shall never be rid of the English, while these magpies remain The observation is that the English magpies entered Ireland in the same county where the Englishmen first entered it, and in the English barony also”
And so it has always remained a tradition in Wexford to bless yourself when you see a magpie, as they are still to this day, considered to be bad luck!