Thursday, June 21, 2012

RTÉ, the St. Brigid’s Cross and the significations of domesticity

Ciarán Swan of The Design Research Group ( Design, Representation, Society ) posted this intriguing essay on 14 May 2007. I am including the full post here but only one of the graphics. Please follow the link to the original posting to see the other two images:

Incalculable good, irreparable harm: RTÉ, the St. Brigid’s Cross and the significations of domesticity.

New Year’s Eve, 1961 7.00 p.m. and the first words to be heard by a grateful nation on Telefis Éireann were the following read by Éamon de Valera.

“I am privileged in being the first to address you on our new service, Telefis Éireann. I hope the service will provide for you all the sources of recreation and pleasure but also information, instruction and knowledge. I must admit that sometimes when I think of Television and Radio and their immense power, I feel somewhat afraid. Like atomic energy, it can be used of incalculable good, but it can also do irreparable harm. never before was there in the hands of men an instrument so powerful to influence the thoughts and actions of the multitude”.

And accompanying those words was a simple stark image that was to remain the visual signifier for RTÉ for the best part of three decades afterwards.

This was the St. Brigid’s Cross. This symbol woven from rushes or straw was a feature of Irish houses for centuries. The first record of it dates from the 17th century, although some believe that the genesis of the Cross was in pagan sunwheels. But in it’s more recent incarnation it has an interesting symbolism which links in part to the mythos around St. Brigid who is the second patron saint of Ireland and as a woman embodied a range of significations. According to legend St. Brigid wove a cross in order to convert a dying man to Christianity.

Édith Cusack, head of Women’s Programmes was the one to suggest the use of the Cross as the symbol of Telifis Éireann.. (worth noting that Telifis is in fact a neologism developed by the actor Éamonn O Guallai from tele (from afar) fis (vision).

Between 1988 and 1989 a new logo replaced it which dispensed with the St. Brigid’s Cross. This generated sufficient controversy due to that feature that it lasted only one year. There was no St. Brigid’s Cross in the next logo used, but in 1993 it was reintroduced as a visual projected against stones from the entrance to Newgrange. This elision of two rather different times from Irish history and culture is interesting in itself, but

Again it vanished for five or six years only to reappear in a similar fashion in 1998.

But this wasn’t the first time the state utilised the symbol. In the late 1940s and early 1950s the Department of Health used it on much of their printed material. In this instance it was a hand rendered illustration of the straw cross accompanied by the Irish name of the Deparment in Gaelic type. In truth the symbol worked well on the printed page, with a clarity that lent itself to black and white printing.


Friday, June 01, 2012

Call for Submissions for Brigit Anthology

Here is something interesting--a call for submissions for a new Brigit anthology from Goddess Ink.

Call for Submissions for a new publication from Goddess Ink:

Brigit: Fire of Womanhood

edited by Patricia Monaghan and Michael McDermott

It is with great enthusiasm that we invite you to submit a proposal as a part of an anthology of work to be published by Goddess Ink ( ). This anthology, comprising works about the Celtic Goddess and Christian saint Brigit, will be edited Patricia Monaghan and Michael McDermott, scholars and devotees of Brigit.

This call for proposals is being sent to a carefully selected group of scholars and religious practitioners. If you know of someone who might be interested in contributing to this anthology, please contact us at

We are seeking submissions in any printable form, including but not limited to:

 Scholarly essays
 Personal essays
 Poetry
 Interior artwork (including small line drawings, in black and white)
 Cover and Back artwork (color)
 Chants
 Invocation

Deadline for submissions: July 1, 2012 Submit.

Planned publishing date for the anthology: Imbolc 2013. The anthology will be published by Goddess Ink. Contributors will be compensated with one contributor’s copy of the anthology.

Please direct inquiries to

To submit: for prose submissions, please send 150-word abstract outlining your approach to the subject; other submissions should be sent complete, with limit of 3 poems or chants per author. Include 150-word biography.

We thank you for your interest in this project.

Michael McDermott and Patricia Monaghan
Co-editors, Brigit: Fire of Womanhood

Goddess Ink: books for the heart and mind