Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Solstice Blessings

As we approach the darkest time of the year I am very grateful that I have warmth, enough to eat and the love of my partner and friends. 
Last year we decided that we would donate the money we spend on gifts, cards and postage to an Irish charity.
This year we will be giving to the Capuchin Day Centre for Homeless People in Dublin.

Their mission statement is -

'Inspired by the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, we at the Capuchin Day Centre welcome people in need of food aid who have no home, or are socially excluded and respecting their dignity, provide a caring pastoral, holistic and non-judgmental service responsive 

to their needs.'

If you would like to read more about the centre please click the link -

May you have food, warmth and companionship over the festive season.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Samhain / November

Now as the hours of darkness increase and there is a chill in the air we have the stove lit with turf and prepare to celebrate Samhain, the beginning of winter. 

Traditionally this was a time of divination when the barm brack, bairín breac, 'speckled loaf, a sweet bread packed with dried fruit and candied peel, was served often toasted with butter. 
Today shop bought brack contains a 'silver' ring but originally the loaf incorporated several items whose significance varied depending on where you lived.
It was believed that your fortune for the following year - such as marriage, wealth, poverty, holy orders or death - could be determined by the item found in your slice of brack. 

Barm Brack. Photo © Jane Brideson 2013

Samhain was also a time when those members of the family who had passed on would return to the home place, so it was customary to set a place at the table and leave a portion of the evening meal for them. 
Families would retire to bed early leaving a fire in the hearth, enabling the dead ancestors to gather there as they had previously done in life.

Tonight we sit by the fireside and warmly remember those friends who have gone from our lives by raising a glass in their memory.
In our cosy, lamplit room we listen to the wind and know that, as darkness gathers over hills and valleys, the ancient mounds across the island are opening so that 
The Ever-Living Ones can roam the land again.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Kerry Revisited

We have recently returned from a a few days away in Cahersiveen on the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry. A beautiful place surrounded by mountains, sea, ancient sites and mythology.
Cahersiveen - Cathair Saidhbhín - means 'Little Sadhbh's stone ringfort' and in mythology Sadhbh was turned into a deer by the druid, Fer Doirich, for refusing his love. She eventually returned to human form and married Fionn mac Cumhail but was tricked by the druid who transformed her once more into a doe. 
Sadhbh was the mother of Oisín, whose name means 'young deer' and he grew up to be considered the greatest poet in Ireland.
Sadhbh's Ringfort may originally have looked similar to Cahergeal Fort which is situated a short drive away from Cahersiveen. 
We also visited the magical Well of the Fair Women above the town. 

For information and pictures of Cahergeal Fort please visit this wonderful site:

The hidden Well of the Fair Women on Beentee Mountain

Photographs of the stones near the Well © Ita Wrafter

St. Finan’s Well in the Glen at St. Finan's Bay

View from the well across the bay

Monday, 12 August 2013

Lughnasadh Blessings.

I recently took a break from writing to enjoy the great weather and to visit author, Dan Cronin in Kerry.
We have been writing to each other and talking on the 'phone a great deal after I visited The City last year - see ANU post August 2012.
His book about his homeplace in the foothills of the Paps of Anu was invaluable and Dan, who is 92, is truly an inspiration. 
Dan and Margaret, gave us a great welcome when we arrived and we could have stayed for hours talking about mythology, folklore and life.

Margaret and Dan

Back home we recently celebrated the first harvest, Lughnasadh or Brón Trogain, the older name for the festival at a local site in the foothills of the Slieve Bloom. 

 Tobar Lugna, Lugna's Well, Co. Offaly.
Photo by Colin Russell

The offerings included berries, herbs, flowers, barley and turf.
Photo by Colin Russell

Tomorrow I am back working on the book but wish you all 
Lughnasadh Blessings and a fruitful harvest.

Lugh’s name may have its roots in early words such as leuk, 'light' or lug, oath. 
His titles include Lámfhada, 'Long Arm' and Samhildánach, 'Equally Skilled in Many Arts'.
The Milky Way, Sliabhbra Luigh, is known as Lugh's Chain. 

Places within the painting associated with Lugh are:
Carn Uí Néid, Mizen Head, Co. Cork, Tory Island, Co. Donegal, Cruachan Aigle
now Croagh Patrick, and Sliabh Bladhma, the Slieve Bloom where the Lughnasadh 
fire was lit on Arderin, An Earagail, 'The Oratory', Mount Errigal, Co. Donegal, 
Lugh's Seat, on Moytura Hill, the Hill of Tara and Newgrange.  

Lugh holds the Sleá Bua, ‘Spear of Victory” as his light shines upon Rath Lugh, 
Co. Meath. In one story Lugh finally kills Balor, his evil grandfather at Mizen Head
and he places Balor’s head in the crook of a hazel tree, where it splits the tree in two. 
Bronze spear head, described by William Wilde in 1861, now in the National Museum
of Ireland, Dublin.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Tullamore Exhibition Ends

The Ever-Living Ones exhibition in Tullamore is over.
Thank you to everyone who helped at the library, especially Mary & Joe
and all the guests and visitors.

I found this in the Offaly Independent - so another thank you to Laura!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Tullamore Central Library

The exhibition was opened by Bernie Moran who gave an interesting talk about her connection to the 'The Ever-Living Ones' and her interest in local history, mythology and Irish identity.
A lovely opening and a good chat in the pub afterwards!

And we made it into the local paper -

With thanks to Bernie Moran, Mary Stuart, the library staff 
& everyone who came to give their support. 

Exhibition ends Friday 31st May.

Sunday, 12 May 2013


The Ever-Living Ones exhibition opens next week in The Central Library,
Tullamore, Co. Offaly.
Please email me and I'll make sure I'm there if you'd like to drop in and say hello. 

Saturday, 30 March 2013


I am currently hard at work researching and writing my book:
"The Ever-Living Ones - Irish gods in landscape, myth and custom" 
but wanted to let you know that I will be exhibiting 
'The Ever-Living Ones' paintings in May at the new library 
in Tullamore, Co. Offaly - details below. 

There will be an official evening opening, date to be confirmed, 
if you would like to attend please email me at 
I hope to be at the exhibition over several afternoons to talk with 
visitors about the paintings and sell art cards and prints. 
Once again, if you would like to visit do let me know and I will 
make sure I am there so we can meet for a chat.

With blessings

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Blessings of Imbolg to you!

The name Brigid, Bhríde, has its' roots in Bríg meaning 'exalted' or 'high', a meaning also incorporating ideas of power, strength, vigour and authority. 
As a triple goddess Brigid is known as Brigit of Poetry, Healing and Smith-craft and she illuminates the dawn sky as three swans fly overhead. 
In her hands she holds the triple flame as well as the three-armed Brigid's cross, once common in Co. Donegal.
Fastening her cloak is a gold disc, one of a pair discovered in the roots of a tree at Tedavnet, Co. Monaghan and dating from the Early Bronze Age.

To either side of the main figure can be seen two mounds, part of Loughcrew, Co. Meath, the openings of which are aligned to the Imbolc sunrise around 7th February, the original date of the fire festival.
On St. Brigid's Eve, she is believed to walk the land dispensing her blessing and in folk tradition a cloth left outside overnight, the Brát Bhride, is blessed by Brigid as she passes by and is said to protect her people against 'fire, famine and fever'. La Fhéile Bride, Brigid's day, is now celebrated on the 1st February and marks the beginning of Spring.

Below the hands of the goddess can be seen Croghan Hill, Co. Offaly whose proper name, Cruachán Bríg Eile, means 'mound of the Exalted Eile', the daughter of a king. Locally it is said that Brigid was born near the foot of the hill which she visited later as St. Brigid.
Croghan Hill itself is an extinct volcano and it is beneath here that Brigit Begoibne had her smithy where she created beautiful cauldrons.
The bronze vessel in the painting is from the Early Iron Age and was discovered at Fore, 
Co. Westmeath. From Croghan Hill flow three springs which at one time fed the three 
sacred healing wells at its' base. 

Below the spread of Brigid's cloak can be seen the oak tree and the ridge of clay, where 
St. Brigid founded Cill Dara, 'the Cell of the Oak', Kildare and it was here that Brigid had her shrine and perpetual flame.

At the bottom of the painting, surrounded by reeds and reflecting the gentle sunlight at Imbolc, is a well in Co. Laois symbolising the sacred wells of Brigid throughout Ireland. 

The gold disc & bronze vessel are on display in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin. 

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Aengus Óg

Aengus Óg © Jane Brideson 2013

The Blessings of the Returning Sun to you!

Aengus Óg, 'young Aengus' is the Irish god of love, youth and poetic inspiration. 
At the top left can be seen the Milky Way, in which the constellation of Cygnus, 
the Swan, is rising. Below is Red Mountain, Co. Meath where the sun rises at 
Winter Solstice before entering Newgrange.
To the right is Dún Aonghasa, the prehistoric fort on Inis Mór, Aran Islands. 
 The twisted gold collar circling the neck of Aengus dates to the early Iron Age and was found at Ardnaglug, Co. Roscommon.
Aengus is associated with the 'new' sun at Winter Solstice and within his body can be seen the sunlight entering the passage at Newgrange. 
As the reborn sun his gentle light illuminates the land, shining on the Brú and bringing the promise of spring.
At the bottom is the River Boyne on which swim two swans, Aengus and Caer, the swan-girl he fell in love with after seeing her in a dream.
The twisted gold collar is on display in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin.