Saturday, February 17, 2018
Mael Brigde, the Name--Because You Asked.
I'm often asked what Mael Brigde means, and occasionally when I say it means "Servant of Brigit", which is the first definition I was informed of, I'm mischievously informed that it actually means "bald."
Allow me to expand on this truncated version of the truth. Ahem:
Now, it is clear from this that the baldness alluded to is not mere male-patterned baldness, but the deliberate tonsure of the Irish monastic (which was different from the circle-top baldspot of the Friar Tuck cut we are used to, being from ear to ear across the pate, leaving the front naked and the back clothed).
The tonsure implies the devotee. So in a way, we're both right. But in another way, it is more accurate for me to say "Devotee of Brigit" or if I'm really feeling it, "Slave of Brigit," or perhaps even "tonsured for Brigit." Gill Brigde, or Giolla Bride, if I recall correctly, has a more direct claim to the meaning "Servant of Brigit."
Heather Upfield reminds me that in Scot's Gaelic the Oystercatcher is Gillie Brihde - servant of Bride, as it is also in the west of Ireland, such as in Connaught, thought the spelling there is Giolla Bride,
Source: Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Vol. I, Fifth Series, Vol. XXI, Consecutive Series 1890-1891, (1892), pg. 518.