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Love is in the Galway air!

It only comes by every four years and was once the only time where women were lawfully permitted to ask for their beau’s hand in marriage.

The Galway Love Festival 2024 begins in the city’s Latin Quarter on Leap Year Day next Thursday, February 29, in a nod to the ancient tradition of female marriage proposals.

Said to have started in 5th century Ireland, the story goes that St Bridget approached St Patrick with a concern that women had to wait too long for their suitors to propose. In response, St Patrick declared that women were allowed to propose to their partners initially every seven years and then every four years on Leap Year Day—a day added to the calendar to synchronise it with the solar year.

Some say February 29 was not considered a legal day, so it was deemed a loophole to circumvent the legal ban on women proposing to men.

If the man then refused, he had to buy the woman a silk gown. The tradition spread first across the water to Scotland, where Queen Margaret decreed that women could propose on leap days but that they must wear a red petticoat to indicate her intention to her unsuspecting suitor.

A leap year occurs because it takes the earth 365 ¼ days to travel around the sun. Every four years that extra day is added together to make 366 days in February, which ordinarily has 28 days. If there were no leap years the seasons would slowly begin earlier each year. Leap year days are always on the same day of the week as the first day in February.

In 2015, a survey of 500 men by Glamour Magazine found that 70% of men would be “psyched” if their female partner popped the question.

Get the full love story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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