Laa’l Breeshey – St Bridget’s Feast Day

Laa’l Breeshey – St Bridget’s Feast Day

It was customary to keep this festival on the eve of the first of February, in honour of the Irish lady who came over to the Isle of Man to receive the veil from St. Maughold. The custom was to gather a bundle of green rushes, and, standing with them in the hand on the threshold of the door, to invite St. Bridget to come and lodge with them that night saying:

“Bridget, Bridget, come to my house, come to my house tonight, open the door to Bridget, and let Bridget come in.”

“Brede, Brede, tar gys my thie, tar dys thie ayms noght. Foshil jee yn dorrys da Brede, as lhig da Brede cheet stiagh.”

After these words were repeated, the rushes were strewn on the floor by way of a carpet or bed for her.

 



A parish church, a nunnery, and no less than seven of the ancient keeills or cells are named after her in the Isle of Man, where she seems to have been a great favourite.

 



…And on St Bridget’s Eve the old farmers’ wives used to sweep out the barn, and put a bed, and a chair, and a table in, and light a large mould candle that would burn all night. And set bread and cheese on the table, with a quart jug of good Manx ale, all in the hope that Breeshey would pay them a visit. And they used to say at the open door before going to bed:

“Whosoever house you come to, come to ours tonight.”

“Quoi erbee yn thie hig oo, huggy tar gys yn thie aynyn.”

A young man, a relation of my mother, was once coming home at a late hour and passed one of those lighted barns. He went in to have a look, and ate as much as he could of the bread and cheese, and finished the ale; and then went and rolled himself well in the bed, and shut the barn door again.

The old farmer’s wife, as soon as she got up in the morning, went to the barn to see if Breeshey had been, and when she saw the bread and cheese and the ale removed, and some one had lain in the bed, her joy knew no bounds. She was all day going about telling the neighbours that Breeshey had paid her a visit, and she would be all right and blessed with peace and plenty for the year.


(source: Yn Lior Manninagh Vol 3 (1895-1901); Mona Miscellaney by Wm. Harrison (1869); artwork ‘Brigid‘ by Kathrin Burleson)

Bernadette Weyde

Bernadette Weyde

I'm a web designer, amateur historian and keen gardener and I enjoy bringing Manx history, folklore and poetry to a modern audience.


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