Saint Brigid

The greatest part of what I got from this old man is evidently from ordinary history and need not, therefore, be given here.

Once St. Brigid wanted to build a convent and accordingly she approached a farmer whom she knew very well, asking him to give the required amount of land. He ignored her request for quite a long period. One day at last owing to repeated importunities he said that he would give her as much land as her cloak would cover. Then she spread her cloak and it kept spreading and spreading until it had acres covered. It never stopped until it had covered his land entirely. From that on it is said that everything St. Brigid asked of Our Lord would be granted.

St. Brigid was passing by the road one day when she heard somebody moaning inside the fence. She went in and there was an old man dying. On enquiring she found that he was a pagan. She wanted to convert him. To do so she was at a loss to show him what the Cross was like. She went out and pulled rushes from which she made a Cross as quickly as she knew how. She baptised him and he became a Christian. Tradition says that this happened at the foot of a hill called Coopers’ Hill – half way between Newry and Maybridge, Co Down.

A Prayer to St. Brigid. (I translate from Irish given me)

“Mary of Erin, secure for us by the prayers the all-powerful protection of the Blessed Virgin that we may be numbered here among her most fervent clients and may we hereafter merit a place together with thee and the countless saints of Ireland in the ranks of her triumphant children in Paradise.”

 It is said that St. Brigid in honour of her (square) Cross grants any and every request to those who ask her at any age in this life which is a perfect square and also any year which is a perfect square. (Last was 1936).

It is also said that if St. Brigid’s Cross is tied to a cow’s horn on the night of the 1st February (St. Brigid’s Day) that cow will not fail to give all the milk required for the next 12 months. This has been tested on several occasions and found correct – even when against nature.

In many parts of the West of Ireland young boys and girls go about the country from house to house on 31st January, vigil of St. Brigid’s Day, singing and dancing and taking anything they can in return. They usually celebrate the night when all the day’s travail is over.

The greatest fault that was found with St. Brigid during her lifetime was her over-generosity. She gave so much away to the poor that many people say, even yet, that even the most depraved, impecunious and abandoned never pray to her in vain.

Collector: Dónal de Grás, Ardeevin N.S.

Informant: Informant Séamus Mac Gloinn, Leitra, Feilméar

Source: Folio No. 902, Pages 157-161. Irish Folklore Main Manuscript Collection