“St. Quhalme”

St. Columba.
St. Columba.

The three names [SS. Patrick, Brigid, and Columba] have remained since that time inseparably united in the dauntless heart and fervent tenacious memory of the Irish people. It is to Columba that the oppressed and impoverished Irish seem to have appealed with the greatest confidence in the first English conquest in the twelfth century. The conquerors themselves feared him, not without reason, for they had learned to know his vengeance. John de Courcy, a warlike Anglo-Norman baron, he who was called the Conqueror (Conquestor) of Ulster, as William of Normandy of England, carried always with him the volume of Columba’s prophecies; and when the bodies of the three saints were found in his new possessions in 1180, he prayed the Holy See to celebrate their translation by the appointment of a solemn festival. Richard Strongbow, the famous Earl of Pembroke, who had been the first chief of the invasion, died of an uleer in the foot which had been inflicted upon him, according to the Irish narrative, at the prayer of St Bridget, St Columba, and other saints, whose churches he had destroyed. He himself said, when at the point of death, that he saw the sweet and noble Bridget lift her arm to pierce him to the heart. Hugh de Lacy, another Anglo-Norman chief of great lineage, perished at Durrow, “by the vengeance of Columb-cille,” says a chronicler, while he was engaged in building a castle to the injury of the abbey which Columba had founded and loved so much. A century after, this vengeance was still popularly dreaded, and some English pirates who had pillaged his church in the island of Inchcolm, having sunk like lead in sight of land, their countrymen said that he should be called not St. Columba but St. Quhalme — that is to say the saint of Sudden Death.

A nation has special need to believe in these vengeances of God, always so tardy and infrequent, and which, in Ireland, above all, have scarcely sufficed to light with a fugitive gleam the long night of the conquest, with all its iniquities and crimes. Happy are the people among whom the everlasting justice of the appeal against falsehood and evil is placed under the shadow of God and the saints; and blessed also the saints who have left to posterity the memory of their indignation against all injustice.

— Charles Forbes René, comte de Montalembert, The Conversion of England, Being a Sequel to the Monks of the West, Volume 1, Edinburgh (1872).

Three Bodies in One Grave

Frontispiece to Rev. James O'Leary's The Most Ancient Lives of Saint Patrick, New York, 1904.
Frontispiece to Rev. James O’Leary’s The Most Ancient Lives of Saint Patrick, New York, 1904.

They shall bury me first at Iona;
But, by the will of the living God,
It is at Dun that I shall rest in my grave,
With Patrick and with Bridget the immaculate.
Three bodies in one grave. Prophecy of St. Columba.

The Happy Virgin of Celestial Life

St. Brigid's Cross.
St. Brigid’s Cross.

O Glorious St. Brigid, Mother of the Churches of Erin, patroness of our missionary race, wherever their lot may be cast, be thou our guide in the paths of virtue, protect us amid temptation, shield us from danger. Preserve to us the heritage of chastity and temperance; keep ever brightly burning on the altar of our hearts the sacred Fire of Faith, Charity, and Hope, that thus we may emulate the ancient piety of Ireland’s children, and the Church of Erin may shine with peerless glory as of old. Thou wert styled by our fathers “The Mary of Erin,” secure for us by thy prayers the all-powerful protection of the Blessed Virgin, that we may be numbered here among her most fervent clients, and may hereafter merit a place together with Thee and the countless Saints of Ireland, in the ranks of her triumphant children in Paradise. Amen.

— Prayer to St. Brigid by Patrick Francis Cardinal Moran (composed 1902),
published in Saint Anthony’s Treasury (1941).

By the Lake of Beer

St. Brigid's Cross.
St. Brigid’s Cross.

I’d like to give a lake of beer to God.
I’d love the heavenly Host
to be tippling there
For all eternity.

I’d love the men of Heaven to live with me,
To dance and sing.
If they wanted, I’d put at their disposal
Vats of suffering.

White cups of love I’d give them
With a heart and a half;
Sweet pitchers of mercy I’d offer
To every man.

I’d make Heaven a cheerful spot
Because the happy heart is true.
I’d make the men contented for their own sake.
I’d like Jesus to love me too.

I’d like the people of heaven to gather
From all the parishes around.
I’d give a special welcome to the women,
The three Marys of great renown.

I’d sit with the men, the women and God
There by the lake of beer.
We’d be drinking good health forever
And every drop would be a prayer.

— Tenth century Irish poem attributed to St. Brigid
(as sung by Nóirín Ní Riain on Vox de Nube).

Bride Ban-Chobhair

St. Bride by John McKirdy Duncan; 1913; National Galleries of Scotland (Scotland); tempera on canvas.
St. Bride by John McKirdy Duncan; 1913; National Galleries of Scotland (Scotland); tempera on canvas.

Thainig thugam cobhair
Moire gheal is Bride;
Mar a rug Anna Moire,
Mar a rug Moire Criosda,
Mar a rug Eile Eoin Baistidh
Gun mhar-bhith dha dhi,
Cuidich thusa mise ‘m asaid,
Cuidich mi a Bhride!

Mar a gheineadh Criosd am Moire
Comhliont air gach laimh,
Cobhair thusa mise, mhoime,
An gein a thoir bho ‘n chnaimh;
‘S mar a chomhn thu Oigh an t-solais,
Gun or, gun odh, gun ni,
Comhn orm-sa, ‘s mor m’ othrais,
Comhn orm a Bhride!

– Carmina Gadelica, Aimsire, 71.

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Sian Bride

The charm put by Bride the beneficent,
On her goats, on her sheep, on her kine,
On her horses, on her chargers, on her herds,
Early and late going home, and from home.

To keep them from rocks and ridges,
From the heels and the horns of one another
From the birds of the Red Rock,
And from Luath of the Feinne.

From the blue peregrine hawk of Creag Duilion,
From the brindled eagle of Ben-Ard,
From the swift hawk of Tordun,
From the surly raven of Bard’s Creag.

From the fox of the wiles,
From the wolf of the Mam,
From the foul-smelling fumart,
And from the restless great-hipped bear.

*       *       *       *       *
*       *       *       *       *

From every hoofed of four feet,
And from every hatched of two wings.

Carmina Gadelica, Uibe, 136.

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Gleidheadh Treuid

Gun gleidheadh Moire min an ciob,
Gun gleidheadh Bride bith an ciob,
Gun gleidheadh Calum-cille an ciob,
Gun gleidheadh Maol-ribhe an ciob,
Gun gleidheadh Carmag an ciob,
O’n mhi-chu ‘s o’n mharbh-chu.

Gun gleidheadh Odhran an crodh,
Gun gleidheadh Maodhan an crodh,
Gun gleidheadh Donnan an crodh,
Gun gleidheadh Moluag an crodh,
Gun gleidheadh Maolruan an crodh,
Am boglach’s an crualach.

Gun gleidheadh Spiorad foir an treud,
Gun gleidheadh Mac Moir Oigh an treud,
Gun gleidheadh Ti na gloir an treud,
Gun gleidheadh an Teoir an treud,
Bho reubain ‘s bho mhearchall,
Bho reubain’s bho mhearchall.

— Carmina Gadelica, Oibre, 104.

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