Wednesday of this week is St Bridgit’s day. In The Meadow we lived in St Bridgit’s ward and worshipped in St Bridgit’s Church.
Ireland‘s secondary patron saint is closely associated with our wider area and Saint Moninna set up a convent in her honour in Faughart, just a few miles south of Newry town.
Despite this St Bridgit (or Bridget) remains an enigma, at times associated with a pre-Christian pagan deity, at other times the centre of many fantastic legends (my grandchildren are about to relate many of those to me, taught them this week in school, no doubt) but always a source of curiosity and study.
The Annals of Ulster maintain that she was born in 454 AD and belonged to the eaithech tuathai, a subject people of lowly status. Her father it was said was a wealthy pagan chieftain named Dubhthach, while her mother was a Christian slave named Brocessa or Broicsech.
Other scholars maintain that Bridgit was one of the Focharta tribe of Leinster.
Bridgit was a Christian when Ireland was not. Most Christians – like her mother, and also like a contemporary, St Patrick – were seized abroad and taken here as slaves.
… more later …