Reeling In The Years – Courting In Early 20th Century Waterford



As sexual relations between unmarried couples were frowned upon by the Catholic church, courting men and women had to find alternative methods of expressing their love for one another in the early part of the twentieth century.

A ritual peasant torching was one of the most common ways in which a man could display his ‘burning desire’ for his first lady.

Of course, the peasants family would be generously paid up to 3 and six pence in compensation for their future loss of earnings.

The man or woman would be fed high fat foods for a month or more before their big finale. The fatter the peasant the better the flame.

Depending on how wealthy the purchaser, some would be fed for up to six months in a bid achieve the brightest blaze.

Then, after being marinated in paraffin oil for several hours on their final day, the human sacrifice would be set a light and burned alive in the peoples park in Waterford city.

This proclamation of love was later banned in 1913 due to tough government regulations on carbon emissions.

The act itself gave birth to the saying: ‘Love is in the air’