Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Name Of Brigid, by Hugh de Blacam

The following is an interesting contemplation of the use of the name Brigit in Irish communities, from the 1942 book The Saints of Ireland: The Life-Stories of SS. Brigid and Columcille by Hugh de Blacam.

Digression: a reader made the following remark, which prompted a reply from me, a point I think is important, about what is correct and not correct when pronouncing Brigit's name.

Thank you for posting this! I've always been pronouncing her name "bridjid"...oops.


Mael Brigde I don't think it's a mistake to pronounce it Bridget--that is what almost every Irish person says when speaking English. Language changes, and where Hugh would like to turn the clock back, it isn't going to happen. We also have to be careful, those of us who are non-Irish nationals, not to come off holier than thou (Irisher than thou?), which is how it can sound if we insist on older Irish pronunciations and usage, and of course there are many other regional forms of the name, such as Ffraid in Wales. I use the Brigg-it pronunciation because I read this piece a long long time ago, and I wasn't expecting to have anyone hear me say it so there would be no worries about it. But I have to admit it is a bit of an obstacle for me now. I don't want to change it, because I have been saying it for so long, but it irks my Irish friends, and I am not happy about that. So by all means carry on with whatever usage you like. There is no right way, and they all have their up and down sides.

ReplyJust now
To which I received this response, also useful info:

Erin Nighean Brìghde Agreed. I would also note a couple other things. One, among the Irish, pronunciation might differ depending on location and dialect anyway, so is not standard, and two, the Scottish and Ulster Irish (to loop back to #1) often write the name, Brìde, which they pronounce, BREEDJ-uh (and is how I spell and say her name, and I say it this way also when spelling it Brighid, or maybe just say BREEDJ.).


1. The Name Of Brigid

Until the past half-century, every Irish family had a Patrick and a Brigid. These were the most common names in Ireland throughout the Penal days, when the race bound itself to its persecuted tradition by constantly invoking Patrick, Brigid, and Columcille. Nowadays, Patrick is the second most common man's name in Ireland. The late Rev. John Woulfe, author of the standard work on Irish names and surnames,[1] analysed a baptismal list of 1000 children in County Limerick. In this list, there were 94 Johns and 65 Patricks, with Michael as the third commonest name (51), and William as the fourth (43); Colum did not appear at all, since the name of the third Irish Patron long since has fallen into neglect, save in Columcille's native Donegal. The list, in respect of girls' names, showed Mary 150 times, for our Lady's sacred name is borne by the eldest girl in virtually every family. Margaret came next (75), then Catherine (45), Nora (40), Johanna or Siobhan (35), and Brigid only sixth, with 30 baptisms, the same number as Julia, and only five more than Elizabeth and Ellen, which numbered 25 each.

The decline in the popularity of the long-beloved name of Brigid is due to the corruption of the name into the undignified Biddy in the anglicised nineteenth century. In times when what we call the stage—Irish tradition was in vogue, "Irish Paddy" and "Irish Biddy" were figures of fun, symbols used in anti-Irish caricatures by the ill-bred, and it needed the Gaelic revival of the present century to restore the associations of the name which once stood in such high honour.

Another circumstance told against the Irish name. In the Penal age and far into the past century, the English-speaking world knew virtually nothing of the saint, whose written records were locked up in the unprinted, forgotten old Gaelic books, and whose traditional memory was cherished only in the secret world of Gaelic speech, by a race that lacked schools, printing press, political freedom, and worldly respect. Accordingly, when there was any mention of St. Brigid in the English-speaking world, it was common to confuse her with St. Bridget of Sweden, who died in 1373; it often happened, for example, that people seeking holy pictures of St. Brigid were supplied from Germany with images of the Scandinavian saint through the ignorance, in continental centres of ecclesiastical art, of the existence of any other saint of such a name. The Scandinavian spelling came into vogue; and Irish children were called Bridget, when the intention was to name them after Brigid. Apparently, the pronunciation of Bridget with a sound came in with the Swedish spelling. It is not agreeable, and the beauty of the Irish name suffered.

The Irish name ought to be pronounced with a hard ; that is, as "Brigg-id," not as "Bridjit." In its most ancient form, the name was spelt with a final t, Brigit, and was Latinised Brigitta. From an early time, however, and down the ages, it was spelt Brigid; Latin form, Brigida. However, the complicated matter of orthography is not ended at this point; for in Modern Gaelic—the language as spoken for the past seven centuries—the becomes silent, and the name usually is spelt in Gaelic Brighid ( Brighde), with a pronunciation "Bree-id." From this it will be seen how Kilbride and St. Bride's are derived.

Accordingly, in writing English we adhere to Brigid as the correct historic and literary form. Let us pronounce it "Briggid," although we often hear people nowadays, under the influence of the revived Irish language, saying "Breeid," which is, as we have shown, fully permissible. In Munster, the pronunciation "Bride" has come into use, and often the name is written Bride, instead of Brigid. Since this development is native and natural, we can make no objection to it, and would be glad to find children christened Bride as well as Brigid, whenever a due respect for our saint is recovered. The colloquial pet form is not the ugly Biddy, but Bridie...

1 Rev. P. Woulfe, Irish Names and Surnames (1906).

Image: 'Pilgrim's prayer, from St. Brigid's well, Near Buttevant, County Cork, Ireland.' by Alison CassidyThis file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported2.5 Generic2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

Well, I can't agree that the form "Biddy" is ugly, but I can understand why the writer thought sohow often we reject words that have come to symbolize our own or another's oppression. Now that I am aging up a bit, I think I shall adopt the word "biddy" to refer to myself. I am an old biddy, daughter of Brigit, and proud of it!

Image: Great Expectations: 'Pip and Biddy sitting on a bank in the Marshes', by John McLenan.  License: John McLenan   [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Live Online Church Services at St. Brigid's, Newry

If you would like to attend a mass at Saint Brigid's Cathedral in Newry, Northern Ireland, but can't manage to get there, you can view via live weblink. Or you can peek in now and look at the font and the altar and see if anyone is in there cleaning the monstrance.

Church Services.

St. Brigid's Newry

Main Avenue Newry , BT35 6EY

Brigit's Bathtub (and other beer-related bits)

I love how much beer culture is becoming aware of our lady of the lake of ale. I  have written about beer (or ale) in this blog before. Check here for previous posts.

Amy Panetta clued me in to St. Brigid's Bathtub Pub, in Detroit, Michigan. According to the website Downtown Detroit Bars,

Bathtub Pub

If you look up the phrase "dive bar" in the dictionary, a photo of St. Brigid's Bathtub Pub with surely be in the margins of the page. That is in no way a bad thing, though. Located directly next to the famous American and Lafayette Coney Islands, a block from Campus Martius, and a large number of busy office buildings, the Bathtub Pub is in a prime location for late night, post-show or -game drinks and bar food, or for after-work cocktails. While the interior of the place isn't going to win any awards, it has a charming and refreshingly rustic, traditional design that will make you feel like you are in the set of a Cheers-esque sitcom. The drink prices are more than reasonable, and the menu, while modestly -sized, is some of the best greasy spoon food in town. Don't skip the Bathtub Pub next time you're walking by, you won't regret it.
St. Brigid's Bathtub Pub
129 Michigan Ave
Detroit, MI 48226

There is nothing horribly Irish about the menu, but according to they serve (among unsurprising pub foods) these two features:

Potato Cheddar Ale Soup $3.00+ 
Brigid's Burger $8.00An 8 oz. burger topped with bacon, caramelized onions, swiss and cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomatoes.

The first sounds about right, Brigit-wise; though she wouldn't have had access to potatoes in the fifth century, they are still pretty Irish, aren't they? Not sure about the ingredients of the burger, but hey.

In Minnesota there is another Brigidine pub, Brigid's Cross Irish Pub, 317 Beltrami Ave NW, Bemidji, MN 56601, USA.



(218) 444-0567


317 Beltrami Avenue
Bemidji, MN 56601

BRIGID'S CROSS IRISH PUB & RESTAURANT is named for the patron saint of agriculture, farmers & fishermen, St. Brigid of Kildare. Our mission is to bring a piece of the Emerald Isle to you with traditional & unique Irish fare, premium imported & regional beer, fine Irish whiskey & a remarkable staff. We encourage the whole family to come in for an Irish adventure ~ without the jet lag. Whether it be traditional games & activities for the wee ones (or the young at heart), a night out on the town or a special occasion...make Brigid's Cross a part of your celebration.

The Story of Brigid's Cross

Brigids Cross takes it's name from Ireland's most well-known female patron saint, St. Brigid of Kildare, and her woven-reed cross. Also known as Mary Of The Gael, St. Brigid is widely known as the patron saint of agriculture, specifically dairy. She was allegedly quite the multi-tasker - establishing the first co-ed monastery, a school for decorative ironwork, feeding the hungry and she is even said to have been able to turn milk into ale! St. Brigid's Cross is traditionally woven in the early spring from young river rushes. It is then hung over doorways to protect the family and is still given to newlyweds and young families even today.
St. Brigid's patron saint day is February 1st. On that day at the pub we pay homage to St. Brigid and honor her miracle of turning milk into beer by offering a free pint to each of our customers and friends between 5 and 6 PM. The pub keeps a fresh supply of woven crosses from the river Shannon year-round for you to hang over your doors as well as jewelry fashioned after the Brigid Cross.
What better patron saint could a neighborhood pub have but one associated with feeding the hungry, protecting the family, and turning milk into beer? Whatever your persuasion, we think you will find comfort in the food, a bit of respite, and maybe even a little religion in every pint!

BeerSmith offers this recipe for Saint Brigid's Bath Water (beer):

St. Brigid's Bath Water - v1.1 

All Grain Recipe

Submitted By: derrickp (Shared) 
Members can download and share recipes

Batch Size: 5.65 galStyle: Irish Red Ale ( 9D)
Boil Size: 6.38 galStyle Guide: BJCP 2008
Color: 14.8 SRMEquipment: Mythic Brewing
Bitterness: 23.0 IBUsBoil Time: 60 min
Est OG: 1.055 (13.7° P)Mash Profile: Single Infusion, Full Body
Est FG: 1.016 SG (4.1° P)Fermentation: My Aging Profile
ABV: 5.2%Taste Rating: 30.0

5 lbsMunich Malt (9.0 SRM)Grain1
5 lbsPale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)Grain2
12.00 ozCaramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM)Grain3
10.40 ozCaramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM)Grain4
10.40 ozCaramunich Malt (56.0 SRM)Grain5
0.32 ozBravo [14.5%] - Boil 60 minHops6
0.25 ozGalena [12.5%] - Boil 20 minHops7
0.25 ozWillamette [5.5%] - Boil 5 minHops8
1 pkgsIrish Ale (Wyeast Labs #1084)Yeast9
And Great Divide in Denver offered (but does not still offer) St. Bridget's Porter:
Serve in English pintShaker

on tap
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St. Bridget, a legendary Irish saint, created a sensation by turning her bathwater into beer. What better way to celebrate her worthy miracle than with our zymurgistic tribute to her feat, St. Bridget’s Porter. St. Bridget’s is a smooth, elegant, and chocolaty brown porter. Brimming with coffee and chocolate characteristics from dark barley malts, St. Bridget’s is carefully hopped to provide the perfect complement to its malty robustness.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Saint Brigit Episcopal Celtic Fest

While I was away ignoring my blogs, a one day Celtic Fest took place in Frederick, Colorado, put on as a fund-(and fun)raiser for their many projects by Saint Brigit Episcopal Church.

This may seem peripheral to our understanding of Brigit. It is just a church that is named for her, which tips its hat to her but is just a church like any other. That may be in some ways true, but not in all. The church truly does embrace Saint Brigit and her tales, and when I look at the various programs they are funding, I see a strong connection to the Saint Brigit who shared her community's wealth with the hungry and sick who came to her. As an older person whose income is low and who is facing losing my tiny rental home in the catastrophic housing crisis that Vancouver is facing, I am more poignantly aware than ever of the life and death importance of her generosity and of programs like the ones listed in the latter half of this post. So thank you to St Brigit Episcopal for continuing the work of Saint Brigit in a very real way. 

This sort of work may inspire us in our own endeavours, as we seek to live out the principles found in Brigit, goddess or saint, that are most important to each of us, however much more humble they may be if we are individuals whose efforts may not be supported by an entire faith community.

So let's allow St. Brigit Episcopal Church tell you in their own words what they did in September, and why:

St. Brigit's Celtic Festival

Welcome to the first annual Celtic Fest sponsored by St. Brigit Episcopal Church to support it's programs for the community in and around Frederick, Colorado.  Celtic Fest is designed as an event for the whole family, so come to not just watch, listen, and try Celtic beer, whiskey and food - but perhaps to try your step at dancing, your lungs on a bagpipe, or your skill at a Celtic sport!  Meanwhile, your children will be choosing from various craft or gardening activities or meeting St. Brigit and hearing her tales of old Ireland!  Activities range from listening to top-rate music to a Celtic Art Show and Competition and Kirkin of the Tartans.


Musicians!  “Open Sessions” will be available for everyone who wants to join in. First one is at 11:00 - other times will be posted at Celtic Fest.
SBBBeer final.jpg
Introducing St. Brigit's Bathwater Beer with a Party, at 12:00!
Pints of beer ($5 per pint), will be poured for the first time to pay tribute to the Irish Patron Saint of Beer, St. Brigit!
Join us in being one of the first to enjoy this Irish Red, specially crafted by Oskar Blues for Celtic Fest.

Our Mission
Celtic Fest is designed to raise funds for the community programs of St. Brigit Episcopal Church in Frederick, CO.  Primary community projects include the following:

Brigit's Bounty Community Resources
Brigit's Bounty Community Resources is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that has a large community garden on the St. Brigit Property.  The mission of Brigit's Bounty is to provide education, training, and resources towards transforming the lives of individuals and strengthening the Carbon Valley community. Brigit's Bounty partners with Thunder Valley K-8 school and the I Have A Dream Program to educate children about gardening, nutrition and healthy food choices and also runs a low-cost garden camp.   All produce is donated to the Carbon Valley Community.

Brigit's Village is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit that has as its mission: to establish a welcoming and reasonably-priced senior housing community in Colorado's Carbon Valley. Plans are in progress towards building 50 units of affordable senior housing adjacent to the St. Brigit property near the Brigit's Bounty Giving Garden.    

CV Dreamers logo trace jpg.jpg
I Have A Dream:  The mission of the I Have a Dream program is to motivate and empower children from low income communities to reach their educational and career goals by providing a long-term intervention program of mentoring, tutoring, and cultural enrichment.  Upon graduation from high school each Dreamer is eligible to receive a four-year tuition assistance scholarship for college or vocational school.  St. Brigit partners with this program by financially supporting two Dreamers and providing Christmas gifts for multiple families.  In addition, Dreamers receive gardening education through Brigit's Bounty Giving Garden.  

© 2017 St. Brigit's Celtic Fest

See their website to learn about their other important programs, including:

Free Health Fair
Help Portrait: Free Family Portraits
Carbon Valley HELP Center