Donnan Harvey, secretary of the Letterkenny Cathedral Quarter, has issued an invite to the public to a special virtual event celebrating St Brigid Day promising it will be an interesting night!
Speaking yesterday Donnan stated that on 31st January at 7.30pm on the Cathedral Quarter’s Facebook site you can learn not only Brigid’s story but also how to make the iconic St Brigid’s Cross, something so many of our forefathers could do but so few can now.
He explained: “Every year people come together on St. Brigid’s eve creating Brigid’s crosses and celebrating the many special traditions connected to the saint & goddess but because of the current pandemic, this cannot happen this year. So instead, we’re inviting everyone religious and non, young and old to celebrate with us online.”
The event is being facilitated by Siobhan McGranaghan.
According to Donnan the old myths and legends are an important part of our heritage which we should all seek to maintain.
He went on: “Legend tells us Brigid converted a dying Pagan. To explain the new faith to him, she improvised making a cross from rushes which was all that was available to her in the location. So, in keeping with tradition, we encourage you to go to your nearest field to gather some rushes for you to make your traditional crosses.
“Whether it’s for yourself or a special gift to give to neighbours and friends, this long-standing tradition of hanging a St. Brigid’s cross above your door will extend a warm welcome to visitors and protecting their homes/buildings and families for the year ahead.”
On the night too there will be a celebration of the Brat Bríd, the custom of hanging a small piece of cloth (can be a ribbon, a piece of linen or cloth like a scarf or handkerchief) on a tree overnight and said to having healing powers in the morning. These pieces of cloth, individually called a Brat Brid, should, according to the old tradition, be distributed among the children and females of the household.
The Brat Brid will, it was said, give them protection throughout the year where ever they go. These pieces of cloth may be sewn into the clothes or jackets of the children to ensure that it won’t be lost.
Donnan explained the many ‘uses’ of this particular item: “Tis said to keep the wearer safe from harm especially on a hazardous or long journey. It was said to cure baldness, help women in childbirth, to ward off magic, the evil eye and fairies. If a farm animal became ill the sign of the cross was made with the brat over it which was then laid on the animals back to ensure the saint’s intervention on its behalf. It helped animals to give birth and have a plentiful supply of milk.”
As we learned from our school days this is a very special time of year linking Imbolc, the ancient Celtic festival marking the beginning of Spring, and Candlemas the ancient festival of light marking the midpoint of winter and St. Brigid’s day.
we hope you’ll come get involved by joining us online.
“St Brigid Day marks the beginning of Spring and we are glad that we are honouring old customs in these precedented times,” concluded Donnan.