Friday, October 1, 2010

MARY OF THE GAEL

MARY OF THE GAEL

ST BRIGIT

450-538 AD


Dubthach m Demre m Bresal a chief of Laigin of the sept of Echaid Find Fuathnairt purchased from Bregia a bondswoman of Dall Bronach of the Dal Concobair in the south of Bregia.
This womans name was Broicsech and he married her and she was with child by him.
This marriage was under the common law and hence she had no legal status but was considered a concubine.
The wife of Dubthach and his legal consort was jealous and advised him to sell this Broicsech least she leave him and take away her dowry.

He took himself to a wizard [druid] called Mailgen and told this dru his tale that his wife was compelling him to sell this woman and the wizard prophisized that his wifes childen would serve this bondswomans child who would be a daughter who would shine like the sun among the stars.
Dubthach was happy that a daughter would be born as thus far he had none.

A poet came to the Dubtach home where the wife was sad and unhappy over this pregnant psudo wife.
He was of the hui Meic Uais.

When he found out about the wifes anger he told Dubthach,
'Sell the handmaiden'.

The chief [taoise] agreed to sell her but to keep the offsping which he did.

Thus the poet took with him the handmaiden to his own place.

When he arrived there a fellow wizard from tir Connell came to the poet of meic Uais[a colla] and brought the services of the bondsmaiden Broicsech.
The tir Connell wizard took her to Tire Connell with him.

However the child in the womb was not sold with the mother.

At this time the Druid gave a feis at Tir Connell and invited the King whose wife was also pregnant.
A prediction was made that the child born on the next day at sunrise would out do all the children of Ireland.

The Queen of Tir Connell however brought forth a dead boy before sunrise but at sunrise as the handmaiden went with a bucket of milk with one foot in the house and the other outside ,she brought forth the child Brigit on the doorstep.

The child was washed with the milk and she was taken to the Queen and laid by the dead royal child who immediatly revived to life.



The Connaill wizard took the handmaid Broicsech and her new child Brigid into Connacht for Broisechs mother was of Connact.But her father was from Munster and they remained there.

The wizard of tir Connail said things regarding Brigit that were not pleasant to those dwelling there and he was ordered out of Connacht to his own patrimoney.

Brigit was a fussy eater and could not eat ordinary wizard food and she threw it up.
She drank the milk of a red eared white cow and thus she was raised till she was a young handmaiden.

She tended sheep. She fed the birds. She fed the poor.

And when she was grown she went to visit her father.
Dubthach came to meet her and was joyous and the wizard who had raised her at Connacht gave the girl to him with no fee or charge.

Dubthach took his daughter and Broicsech to his country at Offaly.
As they went, Brigids nurse was ill and they went to get her ale from a man called Baethchu.
He refused the ale but Brigit got water from a well and to the ill nurse made it taste like ale and she became well again.
The ale at the feis she had been refused became bitter and not drinkable.

Brigit was left to tend the swine and two robbers came and took away 2 of the boars[ male pigs].
As they went along Dubthach met them and took back his pigs.

Some noble guests came to Dubtachs house and Brigit was given 5 pieces of bacon to boil.
However a hungry old hound came and in pity Brigit gave him a piece of bacon.
The dog was still hungry and she gave him a second piece.

When Dubthach came to see if the bacon was ready it was all there.
the visitors did not eat it and it was given to the poor.

At that time a synod was held at moy Liffy in Leinster, presided over by Bishop Ibhair.
When Brigit appeared at the assembly the bishop said she was the virgin he had liked for her charity to the poor and she was hence called ,
Mary of the Gail.

Broicsech the bondswoman of the wizard still was taken ill and Brigit returned to her mother in Connacht to make the dairy right.

This mountain dairy tended by her mother the bondswoman had 12 cows which had to be milked daily and the cream churned into butter.

Brigit created the churning into 12 portions for the Lords 12 apostles and left a 13th portion which butter was given to the poor and kept for guests.

Brigit said every guest held the person of Chirst and that true in the reading of Mathew which dictated,
'as you do to the least of these ye do also to me.'

Because of the reserve of a 13th portion for the poor the wizard came with his consort to fill their great hamper with butter.

That day Brigid had only a churning and a half in her kitchen.
She prayed in her kitchen that:

The prince [flaith] should provide her kitchen with abundance and she took out her small churning to the wizard.
They mocked this samll portion and Brigit said,
"Fill you hamper' that God would put somewhat there.'
She kept going to her kithcn and bringing a small portion singing as she went until the wizards hamper was filled.

They marveled at this miracle and the wizard[druid] said he offered both the butter and the kine she had milked to her.
Brigit however said they should take the kine and in return give her mother Broicsech her freedom.

The wizard drui, mac Midrui ,then freed the bondswoman and gave the kine as well.
He was living than with his consort mna at maig Fenamna in Arad.

Brigit gave the cows to the poor and the druid was baptized in the faith and went with Brigit for the rest of his life.

Brigid than returned to her father Dubthach himself with her mother.
And he a wealthy man in food and property, she gave whatever she could lay hands on to the poor and needy.

Dubthach of course was displeased with this distribution of his goods and property and he wanted to sell her and he took her in his chariot to Dunlaing [Dowling] m Enna the king of Leinster to grind corn in the kings quern.
When Dubtach entered the fortress of Dunlaing he left his sword in the chariot wih Brigit.

While he was gone a leper came by on the road and requested a bestowal from Brigit who gave him her fathers sword.

When Dubthach asked Dunlaing to buy his daughter Brigit the king asked
why he was selling his own daugher and Dubthach replied ,
'Not hard to Say'
She she is selling my wealth and bestowing it on worthless wreched men.

Dunlaing wanted to see the girl and when he Dubthach, saw his sword gone he inquired what she had done with it.
When she replied she had given it to a beggar he was enraged with her.

she was brought to the Leinster king and when he asked why she gave away her fathers property and wealth and especially his sword, she replied she would give it all if she had the power to give it to the Lord.

Dunlaing hence would not purchase her as he realized they could not deal with such a maiden whose merit with God was higher than theirs.

The girl was than shortly offered in marriage by her father and his sons but Brigit refused.
When she preformed a miracle for them they agreed she should never be givin to a husband unless she liked.

This was a major legal advance for women who could now refuse marriage without the consent or the desire of their male realtives.

Brigit and some of her virgin women than went to Telcha Mide to the bishop Mell [mell is pleasure in irish] to be given the veil.

Brigit had been born on a Tuesday on the 8th day of the month, and she took the virgins veil on the 18th.

Consecrated a NUN with 8 other virgins each reprsenting a beautide from the gospels of St Mathew.

She lived to be 88 years old.

Brigit continued in Meath to give charity and to feed the hungry and she wanted to make ale for the 17 churchs of the Fir Tulach around her.

She was able to help and heal the lepers who came to her.

Milk, the diet of her youth with the druids, of Connaught was a healing instrament for her.

Brigit fame as a healer spread and 2 blind Britons and a leper came to her to be healed.
She asked them to wait as an Easter celebration was going on but the British are impatient and challanged her for healing her own kin and country men immediatly.
Brigit hence healed them immediatly as they were jealous of her attention to her own countymen over them.

She develped an eye desease and Bishop Mel sought a physician to heal her. Although she did not desire to go to the physician she obeyed the bishop and on the way fell from the chariot and her head hit a stone and her blood gushed out on two dumb women lying in the road.
They found The Liaigh pronounced Lee the doctor [leech] they were seeking,

When Brigit and her NUNS attended an Assembly of the men of Ireland at Teltown ,Tailtin in the Irish,she was asked,

'Cia h athair?
Who is father?

As a judgment was to be made against one of the espocs of Patraig.
Bron of Patraigs houshold was accused by a woman that the bishop had fathered her child.

The bishop denied this child was his and Brigit was asked to resolve the question.

When the woman continued to asnwer the child was conseived by Bishop Bron she was unable to speak because of a swelling of her tongue.
Brigit therefore made the sign of the cross over the mouth of the infant and asked,

Cia h athair?
Who is thy father?
and the infant spoke ,
'a wreched misarable man on the outskirts of the Aircchtais[the Assembly].
And hence escop Bron was saved.

At that time Nat Fraich Ri Munster and Cashel, came and asked Brigit to consecrate and bless a new house he had built.

He had brought food for Brigit and her Nuns.

But she said she could not eat this food of a heathen man who hdd not been baptized.
The maithFer was grief stricken when this was said and bishop Bron Baptized him.

Patraic thus ordered that the convent should never lack an ordained person when he Nat Friaich himself took priests orders.

At these times miracles were done by Brigit in distibuting small supplies of food to large groups and blessing of homes and people.

There were deseases and poverty in the land amongst the tribes along with great wealth and fortune amongst the princes and nobles.

There were robbers in the land and on the roads and houses of well off people and their cattle had to be guarded.

A woman of the hui Meic Uais came to beg and had before always lived in poverty.
The river Liffy flooded against robbers and the oxen they had stolden from an unguarded home went back home.

There were often prisoners of the king of on the land in Brigits time and often mad men in the hills.

One at Sliab Fuait she went to see as he was harrassing the christian congregation.
the NUNs were afraid of him but Brigit asked him to preach Gods word to them and he replied,
He could not for she was merciful to the myserable and the poor.

Her Father Dubthach sent her as a Nun to Alilill m Dunlaing Ri Leinster to ask for a sword he had given the king.

A slave of that province of king Ailill came to Brigid and asked for his freedom from bondage if he should become a christain.
Brigit went into the king's lis and asked 2 boons of this king.
The transfer of the sword to her father Dubthach and freedom for the slave.

The king said,

Why should i give that to thee?
CID ARA TIBER-SA DUITSI?
ar an rig
[said the king].

Brigit offered him the health of his children and the kingdom of Heaven but Ailill said he did not see the Kingdom of Heaven and therefore asked not for it.
Nor kingship for his sons as he Himself were alive but that they should work each one in his own time.

He asked for himself instead a long life and victory in battle over conns half, the leth Cuinn.
Brigit gave him this and in his lifetime 30 battles were fought by Ailill in Ireland and 9 in Scotland.
When he died the Laigin carried his body before them in battle against the hui Neill and the northern men were defeated.

Brigit kept sheep at the Curragh.
And later Brigit asked Bisop Mell of Meath to map out a city for her CillDara.
At that time Pillip m Dunlaing was coming on the road with over 100 horses laden with peeled rods. [used in house building].
The Nuns asked for some and were refused and the horses were than smittein under their loads.
Straight way wattles and rods were given the NUNs for the whole 100 load of the horses would not rise until these were given.

Thus was built the great house of Brigit at Cill Dara and Ailill the king of Laigin paid the wrights and fed them and as a reward left Pillips child the kingship of Leinster and so it was tell Muirchada gave his daughter to Strongbow de Clare by marriage who acquired the province of Leinster for the Norman invadors by this act of marriage of this knight to his daughter Aife.

And so the Normans of Pembroke came to rule all south and west Ireland through the Geralds of Wales and the Burkes of Edinburo.

Once before she ahd given a cow to an ungrateful and haughty man who had never been counted among the culdees and the poor and feeble.
The Celiuda De ,the Bocht and the Lobrai.

This haught leper left with the cow and the humble man stayed till another cow was given.

But the haughty leper couldnt drive his cow alone and came back to chatise Brigit as if it were her fault the cow could not easily be managed.

Then both men with the 2 cows given left and went into the Barrow river where one crossed successfully and the haughty one one drowned with his cow.

At one time 7 bishops came from hui Briuin Cualann-- from Telach n espoc, to Kildare and Brigit asked her cook Blathnait if she had any food.
The cook said she had none and Brigit was ashamed not to have food.
for the holy bishops.

Some aingels came and told her to milk the cows for a 3rd time that day and she herself milked the cows till the tubs were filled with milk and the milk overflowed and formed a lake called the Loch in Ais, the lake of milk to this day.

Now everything Bridgit wanted was granted to her by God and she remained always shy, modest, gentle and harmonious .
Always intent to help the poor and expell hardship from them.

Brigit remained abstinent and innocent, prayerfull and patient,
forgiving and loving.
She was compationate to the wreched. Full of miracles and marvels,
and helped everyone in straits or in danger.

She abaited the pestilances and quelled the anger of storms of the seas and thus she was called ,

Mary of the Gael.

Brigit the fiery Aran was born a daughter of a chief and king but her mother was his bondswoman and so was she.

As she grew in the hands of druids in the countryside of Connacht she would in the day tend the sheep and churn the butter made from the 12 cows her mother tended for the Druid.

She aquired a reputation for helping the destitue and poor.

Many miracles were attributed to Brigit such as solving a husband /wife problem ,bringing the kings pet fox back to life, curing lepers, creating Ais loch.

Many of the legends told of Briget reflect the desire of the common people to be protected by the miracles and skills attributed by the former wizards. the Druids ,in the new Christain bishops, priests, and nuns.
St Brigits priests and nuns.

St Brigits well is attributed magical healing waters .
The well is in the Burren near the Sea.

However it is not promoted as an atttraction as is St Patricks purgatory.
A small fish appears every 7 years in the well and whoever sees it is cured of any ailiament.

The first of February ,St Brigits Day denotes the beginning of the bird nest building and the giving of a firkin of butter to working boys.
As Brigit always had care for the poor.

On this day also the Cross of St Brigit is made of the thatch straw and placed over each door in the thatch.

This the end of an old year and the 1st day of the new year.

This day as seen is also the beginning of the lambing season when the new beautiful kids are born in the fields and the day of the flood of the Nile by the rising of the planet Venus above the fruitful land of the Nile Delta.

Brigit confered with Brenain the Navagator at her place on the Liffe where she had been tending her sheep.

At one time Brigit was to poor as a bond girl to have grass to feed her cow and she was grazing it by the roadside.

A rich man owning much land then saw her and asked how much land was needed for the grass of 1 cow.
As much as my cloak would cover she replied and he said he would give that.

She spread her cloak and it spread out for miles over the land.
But an old woman passing said if that cloak goes on ,all Ireland will be free.
The cloak stopped but Brigit then held that land through all her lifetime and it had no rent since until the English conficated it and built a barracks on it.

At the Battel of Almuin
Brigits spirit prevailed over the men of Leinster as Couim Cille was over the ONeill and Laigin won that battle.

Long after Strongbow saw her on his death bed and cried out that she was bringing him to his death.

Brigit of the Aranfire is rememberd as the peasants cover the red ashes of the turf fire for the morning,
and recite:

I save the fire as Christ saved everyone
Bright beneith it
The son of Mary within it

Let the 3 Aingels and the people of this house
be sheltered until the dawn of day
Mother of the flocks
Quieter of thy Sea
It is she who is
Mary of the Gael.


Brigit lived and died in the early days of Christsin Ireland and with the spirit of that new way she also captured the mistakes of the old past in the bonding and selling of women, the capture and work of slaves, the poverty in the land and the dispise of failure and the deseased.
The ability of the stong lords and princes to keep their own and to remain superior to their peasant people.

she captured the overpowering influence of the early church personell both domestic and imported and confronted the problems still existant in Ireland today ,the matter of food ,shelter, warmth and security.

Her town of cillDara today is prosperous and an attraction and her name world famous.

Her cross allegedly woven while she converted a dying old pagan to the faith still is made at the schools on Feburay 1, a quarter day, Imbolg in modern terminology. The butter bag day.

she paved the way for women in the church and in education and in the hospitals where they excelled and held respect for centuries after her death.
Many followed her lead into the convents to avoid obscurity in marriage arranged by their families and rather reamined in these cloistered seclusions til they either married of their own choise for love or became sisters dedicated to the orders of healing and help throughout the world.

Brigit took care to honor her mother, to help her mother, to free her mother the bondswoman and to help her father share his unused wealth although he did not desire to give nor did the Druids. They did for her sake.

The name Brigit is used in the Irish text as written in the MS tranlated by Stokes in the 1800s.

The name Brigid is also used for this nun but it may be more a name attributed to the older Brigid the Goddess of the Gael.
A mythical figure of ancient times.

Bride is derived by the common people from the spelling of Brighde in which the h precludes the pronounciation in speech of the g.

It is not clear if the symbol g is ever pronounced in Irish gaelic at all. Transposing to the welsh wa and the english gh in which g is precluded altogether by the h after it.

There is also a Brigid from Sweeden who figures in the spelling of this name.

Bri means energy
and git seems to mean a bit from giot.
A bit of energy.

The old id ending of Irish may be from Sweeden not the Norse language or fromthe Icelandic of the Ilse.

the Id later becomes ith now meaning hunger.

the thane or the dane
scots and the Dana


Judi Donnelly
copyright 30 September 2010

sourse:the anacdota, Lives of Saints #5,
whitley Stokes, Oxford translation, 1890

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