Out-of-time Advent Blog Day 9: Bridget/Brigid

Should this dogged determination to complete a task continue so far beyond the long-expired days of Advent, I ask?

And straightaway I give myself an answer in the form of the following post, knowing that when it is published, only seven more are required to represent the missing days 10-16, all others having been recorded in their own haphazard order.

As I have said before, everyday is part of an advent to something. Indeed, sometimes a route to adventure. So these will continue to completion, after which I shall post only once per week in this Blog. 

Before February is over I plan to post one or two reviews of other people’s work, which will take things in a different direction once again. To get in the mood for that you may wish to check out two reviews I have already posted here:- Review: Venus in Pink Marble by Gaynor Kane (published by Hedgehog Poetry Press) and https://peterawriter.com/2020/10/19/review-keep-on-spinning-a-debut-chapbook-by-jen-hughes.

In the meantime this is a post with a personal feel. As usual I shall keep its content brief and easily readable but have an ambition to build its premise into a larger work of greater depth and research, accompanied by poetry inspired by its subject matter.

The photograph which heads this post is of my paternal grandmother, whose first name was Bridget. I started to think of her a lot as February got under way when I found my Facebook Timeline inundated with references to St. Brigid whose feast day is 1st February. This happened partly because I follow a Proud to be Irish Facebook Account but also because I have a few Facebook friends who have their origins or cultural roots in Ireland.

The Facebook links associated with St Brigid/Bridget took me to poetry, old and current, and I was delighted to find that she was regarded as the patron saint of poetry and creativity. I also noticed that one Facebook friend, the poet Raine Geoghegan, referred to her as goddess, which made me think she must have a pagan origin.

Sure enough, a little further research confirmed that 1st February originally marked Imbolc or Imbolg, a pagan festival associated with Brigid, goddess of fire, inspiration, poetry and crafts and that this was subsequently Christianised. Historically it was a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of Spring, lying midway between winter and spring equinoxes. Originally it was celebrated not only in Ireland but also in Scotland and the Isle of Man.

So what’s all this got to do with my Gran?

Well, it has much to do with the way my mind and heart operate. 

By way of background, for her own reasons Granny stopped using the name Bridget at a fairly young age. When she was confirmed she took the name Cecilia and insisted on being addressed by that name. As a child, I was quite pleased with that, knowing that St Cecilia was regarded as the patron of music and musicians. While I have found no personal talent in that area, as a child I had hopes I might develop in that beloved art.

In any case, I was always romantic about Ireland and it was her husband, my grandfather and namesake, who was Irish. I did not associate Granny with Ireland at all. She, like me, was Scottish.

However, getting all this input about Imbolc/St. Brigid’s day got me thinking. 

I now have Irish citizenship, as indeed my Gran would have been entitled to acquire from her marriage to a Wexford man or because of her family’s origins in Newry.

I have in recent years achieved publication as a poet, and though I have not gained musical skills to deserve the saintly patronage of Cecilia (which was not Granny’s birth name anyway), it seems I have some entitlement to the patronage of Bridget, goddess and saint (and my Gran’s real name) for my literary efforts.

Frankly, I’m pretty chuffed with that and, as well as cherishing fond memories of my Gran, the Bridget in my bloodline, I am hoping an early spring in my creative step for the rest of the month.

2 Comments

  1. Aw, darling Granny – what a woman! I recall the jokes she told us as children, some of them quite macabre as I remember! She was a great story teller and she could draw 😊. She saved the animal cards from Brooke Bond Tea for us….. which I loved. Thank you Peter, really enjoyed reading this including the Saintly and Pagan references

    Like

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