February is St Brigid’s month. She started out in celtic mythology as the daughter of the Irish god Dagda, and with the onset of Christianity in Ireland she was transformed into the Irish saint, St Brigid of Kildare. She is said to herald spring, and is a source of poetry and wisdom, as well as healing and protection, especially for women.
On February 1, Lá le Bríde, RTÉ’s Raidió na Gaeltachta’s programme An Saol ó Dheas interviewed the Irish poet Bríd Ní Mhóráin who read her poem ‘In Ainmneacha na Máithreacha’.
The poem’s title translates as In The Names of The Mothers which could be seen as a feminist signal, evocative as it is of the words that begin the Sign of the Cross in Irish – In ainm an Athair, ‘In the name of the Father’. The poem begins with a recognition of the unbroken chain (slabhra) from the celtic Brigid to the abbess who built her own convent in Kildare, to a modern day Brigid taking care of her family, and through to the writer, the poet.
The poem thanks Brigid for the basics of life, butter and milk (im agus bainne). The modern day Brigid, as well as making míorúilt na gcúig mbuilín, the daily miracle of five loaves (another Christian reference) for her family, helped to deliver her own granddaughter, a baby named after the goddess and saint and who has carried on the poetic tradition. The poem ends with a plea to the mothers of heaven and earth (A mháithreacha neimhe agus talún) for wisdom and knowledge to further strengthen the generations.
You can hear the programme through the link that follows the poem. You can read more about the poet at https://portraidi.ie/en/brid-ni-mhorain
In Ainmneacha na Máithreacha le Bríd Ní Mhóráin
Síneann slabhra slán
ó Bhrigit, bé na filíochta,
trí Bhrighid Chill Dara,
bronntóir ime agus bainne
anuas trí na glúnta
go dtí Brighid Ní Chaoimh,
an bhean bhainne
ó Bhinn na Míol,
i gCo. Chorcaí;
an té gur ghnách léi
míorúilt na gcúig mbuilín
a dhéanamh gach lá dá saol;
shín sí sin an lúb chuig Brighid eile,
caomh mar rós ar a leaba luí seoil
nuair a leag sí a gariníon nua-shaolaithe
ar ucht na máthar,
bunóc gur dhein Brighid file di
i bhfaid na haimsire.
A mháithreacha neimhe agus talún,
deonaíg’ dom tíos, fios is leigheas
a raghaidh chun tairbhe dár gcine
is a bheidh mar mhaise
in áit an lúib ar lár
i ngréasán na hiomláine.