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The Festval of Brigit – Celtic Goddess and Holy Woman
'The Festival of Brigit' by Séamas Ó Catháin

by Séamas Ó Catháin, Professor Emeritus at University College Dublin and former Director of the Irish National Folklore Collection.
[• click here to see the author's webpage >]

Professor Séamas ÓCatháin's monumental study of the Festival of Brigit – Imbolc, February 1st – updated, extended, and published in a new edition, in honour of Ireland's newest national holiday.
[• < click on cover image, or here, to see sample pages]

Brigit was one of three great saints of early Irish Christianity, alongside Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, and Colm Cille (Columba), Irish colonizer of Scotland and founder of Iona. By tradition, Saints’ Day festivals and other Holy Days were celebrated over twenty-four hours, starting on the eve of the feast and continuing through the night and through the following day. Thus the Festival of Brigit includes Oíche Fhéile Bríde (St Brigit’s Eve) and Lá Fhéile Bríde (St Brigit’s Day) – on 31st January and 1st February respectively. However, these are not the oldest names associated with this festival in Irish tradition, for in earlier pre-Christian times it was called Imbolc – a word whose basic meaning has much to do with milking and milk-production.
This book views Brigit – the Celtic goddess and the Christian-era Saint – not merely in an Irish context, but also in an international and western European context. It attempts to uncover the motivation of previous generations, both within Ireland and beyond it, in sustaining and preserving ancient practices and beliefs, and highlights how fundamentally important folk culture is to our understanding of the past.


"… A fascinating read, showing the complexity and strength of oral traditions and the very strong links between belief and material culture, a link that archaeologists are sometimes inclined to ignore as opposed to trying to come to terms with its complexity, as Professor Ó Catháin has done so successfully here." —Archaeology Ireland.

"… this is an interesting and stimulating book, fascinating in its detail…"Edinburgh University Press.

"… some very interesting aspects of the celebration of Brigit emerge, some of which the author considers, others of which will prompt investigation by other researchers. The extent to which this volume can excite, by its citation of sources, and its bringing together of analogues, is a tribute to the author."Nordic Yearbook of Folklore.

Brigit-of-Ireland-Icon-for-TodayThe Festival of Brigit— in Paperback and in Hardback,
on 296 demy-octavo-size pages, with 36 illustrations,
ISBN (pbk): 978-1-908420-312, r.r.p.: £22 /€25 /$27
ISBN (hbk): 978-1-908420-329, r.r.p.: £35 /€40 /$42

Launched at the Brigit Study Day on 28th January 2023
at Trinity College Dublin
"Brigit of Ireland: Icon for Today",
in celebration of the new Irish Public Holiday on 1st February 2023 >>


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