Tonight is St Brigid’s Eve, an important date and event in our traditional calendar here.
In Gaelic Tyrone, the man of the house cut the rushes on St Brigid’s Eve, 31 January and later that evening, after dark, the eldest daughter of the house, or the one with Brigid in her name, went out and walked round the house, carrying a bundle of rushes and then knocked on the door three times, saying:
“Téigi air mur nglúine, teanaigí ulaícht agus leigí Bríd bhocht isteach | Get on your knees bow down and let poor Brigid in.”
At the third knock, those inside would say in return:
“Ó, tar isteach! Tá céad fáilte agat! | O, come in! You have a hundred welcomes!”
She then came in and laid the rushes under the table until supper was eaten. After the supper, and just before the Brigid’s Crosses were made, a thanksgiving was said by the parents including:
“Gura seacht feárr i gcionn na blianna a bhéas mur, ins na grasta is mó, agus ins na peacaidh is lúgh. Slainte anma agus cuirp i ndaoiní agus i n-eallach. Ar sabhail air thubaiste air sheirbhis na blianna, air fhiabhras nó air aicídeacha, sgus go mór speisialta, gan rud air bith a leigint nar mbealach un a’ ghloir shíoruí a dhalladh air ar n-anam | May we be seven times better at the end of this year, most endowed with grace and least with sin. May both people and cattle have health in body and spirit. Keep us safe from misfortune in the year’s work, from fever and illness and, most especially, to let nothing blind our souls on the way to eternal glory.”
(From ‘Sgéalta Mhuintir Luinigh … Irish Tradition from County Tyrone’, collated by Éamonn Ó Tuathail and published by the National Folklore Collection, UCD, 2015)
In old Tyrone, after the supper and the Rosary on 31 January, left-over rushes were spread on the floor in front of the fire to make a bed where the real St Brigid could rest if she called during the night.
Everyone in the house went to bed that night with a single rush tied around their head to keep them free of headaches and other ailments throughout the coming year.
Earlier this evening we had our own good St Brigid’s Crosses event at Gortacladdy.
Tá muid ag coinneáil leis an traidisiún | We’re keeping up the tradition!