Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Festival of Brigit the Holy Woman, by Séamas Ó Catháin

Celtic Studies LogoThere is available to us online a 30 pp paper by Séamas Ó Catháin entitled "The Festival of Brigit the Holy Woman". Below is a tiny taste of it. Please go to Celtica -- Journal of the School of Celtic Studies, for the full text.

One of the two important Línasa sites linking `the old goddess' and the harvest

festival, to which Mac Neill refers, is Brideswell or Tobar Bhríde in Co. Roscommon.

Like Daigh Bhríde (St Brigid's Well) at Liscannor, Co. Clare and the St

Brigid's Well in the parish of Ballinakill, Co. Galway, it is a Línasa site which

bears the name of the saint whose feast day is celebrated, not in harvest time, but

on the first of February, traditionally the first day of spring in Ireland. In common

with a number of other wells dedicated to St Brigit, Brideswell also exhibits some

highly significant connections with what may be broadly described as `fertility', as

is made clear by the following:

In 1604 Randal MacDonnell, son of Sorley Boy, and afterwards first Earl of

Antrim (1620), married Ailis, daughter of the great Hugh O'Neill, and they

were for a while childless. They made the pilgrimage to Tobar Bhríde and

later, in gratitude, for answered prayer, Randal, now Earl of Antrim, erected a

gateway leading to the well, bearing his arms and date 1625.

Kilbride (Cill Bhríde) near Ballycastle, Co. Mayo also boasts a `St Bridget's

Well' which `is supposed to possess a cure for sterility' and which also happens

to lie in close proximity to yet another major Línasa site. The potential to `cure

sterility' was a feature of the healing powers of a number of holy wells here and there throughout the country. Devotion to St Brigit was, indeed, widespread among

the ordinary people, Finding in later years its most elaborate surviving expression

in the Irish-speaking or recently Irish-speaking parts.

from the paper: Ó Catháin, Séamus. 'The festival of Brigit the Holy Woman'. Celtica, 23 (1999), 231-60. ISSN 0069-1399.

Séamas Ó Catháin is the author of The Festival of Bright: Celtic Goddess and Holy Woman.

Dublin: DBA Publications, 1995. 194pp. Illus. 14.95 [pounds sterling]. ISBN (pbk) O 9519692 2 6; (hbk) O 9519692 3 4

Celtic Studies Logo

Leagan Gaeilge

English version

Scoil an Léinn Cheiltigh

School of Celtic Studies

Institiúid Ard-Léinn Bhaile Átha Cliath

Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies


Ree said...

What is the symbol used in the post? It looks familiar, but I can't remember what it is called.

Mael Brigde said...

Excellent question, Fiachna. What I generally do is take an image from the web page or book (etc) I'm linking to. This image was on the DIAS site but is not there now, so I can't retrace the steps and tell you. Sorry!

Ree said...

It is perfectly alright. :) I am just glad you responded to my question, and am glad to have somewhat of an answer. I will try checking out the website and see if I can try to find a way to retrace the steps myself in some way. lol. What does DIAS stand for so I can look for the website of theirs? :)

Mael Brigde said...

DIAS stands for Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. If you follow the link above you will get to their site. Good luck!