Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Winter Solstice and time for hibernation

Detail from Aenghus Óg - more details are HERE
On the longest night we sat in the dark silence of winter and as the light returned to illuminate
the chamber at Newgrange I lit a candle to welcome the suns' rebirth.

Although we have a few more seconds of daylight now the weather is firmly set to winter and
for me it is the time of year to hibernate: to rest, to dream and to go inwards.

It is a time when I am often inspired with new images for paintings or form new connections to
older ideas. It is an interval when I read books, write in my journal or sit and reflect.

'Elder Mother' © Jane Brideson
So until the green shoots appear I wish you all the blessings of hibernation.
May you awaken refreshed and renewed!

To read about Winter Solstice sunrise at Newgrange please visit -
Irish Archaeology
For a tour of the complex, video and more information visit - Voices from the Dawn
Places inside the mound to witness the return of the sun are limited but a lottery is drawn every year.
To take part please visit -  Newgrange.com

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Time of The Cailleach

Watercolour, gouache & pastel on watercolour paper 20" x 27".
Model: Siobhán ní Ghabhann.

"Three great ages; the age of the yew tree, the age of the eagle, 
the age of the Old Woman of Beara (Cailleach Bheara)." - Old Connacht proverb

When daylight decreases and the cold wind nips at my nose as I walk along the frosty road I know 
that it is the time of The Cailleach.
Cailleach means 'old woman, hag or veiled one' and she also known in Ireland as
Cailleach Bhéara,  Cailleach Bhiorach, Cailleach na Huibhe, Boí / Buí & Sentainne Bérri.
She has many different guises in folklore: she is the bean ghlúine - the midwife, the bean fasa -
the wise woman and the bean chaoínte - the keening woman.
She is also the hag who is embraced by the hero to become the beautiful Goddess of Sovereignty.
The Old Woman may originally have been a lunar goddess associated with the sea, the formation
of the land and various horned animals especially deer and cows.

1 On the left, beneath the waxing moons and the Bealach na Bó Finne, the Milky Way
can be seen Slieve Gullion, Co. Armagh where the southern cairn, the largest, is known as 
the Calliagh Berra's House and to its north lies the Calliagh Berra's Lough. 
She is said to have tricked Fionn McCool into jumping into its waters and when he emerged he 
was transformed into an old man. 
Beneath the mountain is a small herd of red deer, the only species native to Ireland, believed to have had a continuous presence here since the end of the last Ice Age, c. 10,000 BCE.

2 On the right, beneath the waning moons, lies Cnóbha, Knowth, Co. Meath. 
The mound is also known as Cnoc Buí where it is believed that the ancestor, Buí,
'cow like one' is buried.

3 An Cailleach sits at the centre of the painting within the west recess of Cairn T,
Sliabh na Caillí, part of the Loghcrew passage tomb complex in Co. Meath which dates
from around 4,000 BCE .

She is surrounded by the many, richly decorated stones which line the tomb and around her neck
hang some of the objects discovered in excavations of the complex.
Above her is a carved stone set into the roof and beneath it the 'Equinox' stone of the recess which is illuminated by the rising sun at the Autumn and Spring Equinoxes.

4 The complete complex of Loughcrew spreads across the lap of An Cailleach.
Patrickstown Hill is on the left, Carnbane East with Cairns T, U and V visible at the centre and Carnbane West on the right, showing Cairns D and L. Altogether there are the remains of 25 cairns here, each aligned to various astronomical events, with Cairn T on the highest peak commanding views over 18 counties.
Several of the mounds originally had a mantle of white quartz & must have been an impressive sight 
in sunlight or under a full moon. 
5 Her hands are placed in the crack of the sill stone as she connects the earth, the sea and the moon. 

6 To the left is the pale Calendar Stone found at Cairn X on Patrickstown Hill, thought to show
both solar and lunar cycles.
On the right is kerbstone 15 from Knowth also thought to be a Calendar Stone depicting the
suns' annual journey.

7 Below this is Carrauntoohil, Co. Kerry with the Hag's Tooth just visible.
To the left is Oiléan Buí, Dursey Island off the Bheara Peninsula, Co. Cork.
Close to the coast of the island is a rock standing in the sea known as Bó Buí, Buí's Cow,
which is said to have been turned to stone by An Cailleach herself.

 Carrantuohill & Hag's Tooth - wikipedia

8 At the centre bottom is An Cailleach Bhéarra, The Hag of Beara, a metamorphic rock
unlike any other in the area.
There are many stories about The Hag of Beara locally, one being that she turned herself to stone 
so that there would always be a hag on Beara. 
Another tells that she stands on the hillside above Coulagh Bay gazing out over the Atlantic 
watching for the return of her lover Manannán Mac Lír.
If you visit her today you will find offerings of ribbons, flowers and crystals adorning the rock 
in honour of the Cailleach Bhéarra.

Photo © Jane Brideson

To find out more & take a virtual tour please visit:
Information on The Wild Deer Association of Ireland can be found HERE
For a fascinating study of the Cailleach see: 
"The Book of the Cailleach: Stories of the Wise Woman Healer" by Gearóid Ó Crualaoich.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Three small pleasures

This week it has been really noticeable that the nights are lengthening and the temperature is
dropping. Winter is here along with its' hardships but it is also a season of small pleasures.
We had a delivery of logs earlier this week to keep the range going and when we had finished
stacking the wood I noticed that the mist had crept up from the Lough field to spread like
Manannán's cloak across the land.
The muted colours and silence turned the well known fields into a place of magical mists
where the Otherworld felt close at hand.

What do you see? Is it a tree?
Or a creature with pointy nose & beard - others see a goblin or a big cat with a gun.

Once indoors I lit the fire in the back room stove and lay propped on cushions reading a book
with a cup of tea to hand.

 Small winter pleasures.
Look into the fire on the right - is that another goblin peeking out?

As darkness had descended by 5 o'clock I lit more candles so that their golden light filled the room
then returned to the fire to watch the pictures in the flames.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

The Mists of Manannán Mac Lír.

As a child I spent many summers living with relatives on the Isle of Man, Ellan Vannin,
and was told stories about Mannin by my Grandmother, who was a native Manx speaker.
The one I remember most clearly told how he would spread his cloak of mist and magic across the island to conceal it from invaders, especially my Grandmother stressed, the British monarchy!
During the past couple of days we have been marooned in a sea of mist and silence and I have
been inspired by her stories and the weather to post my painting of Manannán.
I recently stumbled across As Manx as the Hills on Facebook and also discovered the wonderful
statue of Manannán by the sculptor John Darren Sutton.
His god stands on Binevenagh Mountain, Binn Fhoibhne, Co. Derry overlooking Lough Foyle.
Local tradition tells of the presence of  Manannán in the Lough and it was believed that his spirit 
was released during fierce storms. 
My painting of him illustrates him as a god of the sea, water, mists and magics.

More about my painting - HERE

Flor, the model for my painting Manannán.

1 The Isle of Man which takes it's name from Manannán can be seen on the horizon. 

Above the island flies the crane, a bird associated with Manannán and his crane bag.
2 The god is also associated with lakes and several castles, such as Castle Mannin, Co. Mayo 
and Mannin Castle, the remains of a ringfort, in Co. Monaghan. 
This stands near a lough known as Mannin's Pool and local folklore tells that St. Patrick fought here with Manannán and defeated him by confining him to the water. 
Manannán however escapes on occasion and has been seen by local people in the form of a hare.

3 The triskelion, the island's symbol known as the "three legs of Mann", Tree Cassyn Vannin.

4 He is also believed to inhabit the isolated rock of Carrickmannon. 
Found about 1 km offshore to the north east of Kinbane Head, Co. Antrim,
the rock is submerged and it is only at low tide when the waves break across it,
is Manannán's home visible.

Low tide at Carrickmannon from www.panoramio.com

5 Manannán offers the golden boat, part of the Broighter Hoard, found in 1896 and thought to be
a ritual offering the god when the area was underwater.

The gold boat is on display in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin.

Photos of Broighter Hoard from Irish Archaeology  HERE

6 & 7 From the waves emerge Manannán's horse, Aonbharr and the Salmon of Wisdom 
who lives in the well at Emhain Ablach, one of Manannán's home.

8 Manannán's boat journeys towards the Blessed Isles, to Tír Fo Thonn, the Land Beneath Wave and Tír Na Nog, the Land of Youth.

Manannán overlooking Lough Foyle:
Manannán by John Darren Sutton

Manannán overlooking Lough Foyle by John Darren Sutton

The work of sculptor John Darren Sutton can be found here - JD SUTTON
Photographic prints of his work - Here
You can also see him here too.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


I have finally completed reposting my paintings.
Please see below for updated pages.
And a new one.

Paintings and info on Irish Goddesses HERE

Paintings and info on Irish Gods HERE

Information on Art Cards & Posters HERE

My paintings from the Hill of Tara HERE

My older designs now available to order again - more info  HERE

Monday, 10 November 2014


Dear friends & visitors to this blog -
Due to the images of my paintings being taken and used on the internet by other people
without crediting me or acknowledging my copyright I have removed the galleries of my work
and the 'how to order' page.
Naively I expected people on the internet to honour my work, my paintings and 
The Ever-Living Ones of Ireland.
I know now that the internet is no respecter of copyright or original work.  

I have taken legal advice and am taking steps to discover where my work has been posted without credit or altered without my consent. 
I will repost all the paintings at a later date.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me.

Thursday, 30 October 2014


As the year deepens into winter I recalled a Samhain night seven years ago when I decided to
journey into the darkness of the countryside, where the sky was lit only by stars.
The scent of turf smoke and frost was in the air as I left the warmth of the hearth and travelled
down the small country roads hereabouts. All was silence with the headlights illuminating dark hedgerows and occasional wisps of grey mist in the hollows.

I passed through villages adorned with lit pumpkins, plastic skeletons and windows decorated
for Hallowe'en. Once or twice there was a glimpse of small witches, ghouls and vampires moving from house to house looking to trick or treat.
It was just as I had expected it to be until we finally came to a village with no decorations.
None at all.
Not a pumpkin, a ghost or a skull anywhere.
In fact there were only one or two lights on behind the curtained windows giving the impression
that almost everyone was asleep in their beds.

My first thought was how sad it appeared.
It seemed that in this place the children and adults did not take part in the celebration of Hallowe'en
and I felt sorry for them missing out on the fun and colour we'd seen elsewhere.

As I slowly approached the last houses however I could see an orange glow in the distance.
On the outskirts, at a deserted cross roads, I discovered this bonfire.

Samhain bonfire © Jane Brideson. 
Nothing remained to show that anyone had been there, though the fire was well banked up to
continue burning late into the night.
I stood as close as the heat would allow hearing the crackle of the fire whilst I watched pictures form in the smoke and the dancing flames.
I understood then that the people of the village had rejected the commercialism of their ancient festival
and marked Samhain as a community in the old way.

Returning home I realised that I had stumbled upon a continuation of an ancient Samhain tradition which has taken place on this island for thousands of years.

It was truly a magical experience.

As we approach the darkest time of the year I wish you food, rest, warmth and
the blessings of your ancestors.

Sunday, 19 October 2014


1 She offers a gateway into darkness and the entrance to her cave,
Uaigh na gCat, Owenygat, in Co. Roscommon.

Owenygat : photo © www.rathcroghan.ie

2 Two mounds near Brú na Bóinne known collectively in mythology as Mur na Morrigna,
‘The Wall of the Mór-Ríoghain or Great Queen’ and later as Da Cich na Mórrigna,
'Two Paps of the Mórrigan'.
One text names these mounds individually as cirr & cuirrel,  comb and brush of
the Dagdha’s wife. Today they are referred to as satellite mounds K and L, passage graves
which contain decorated stones. 
Below them stands the stone known as the Lia Fáil on the Hill of  Tara, Co. Meath
where the Mórrigan resided for a time.
The stone now commemorates the graves of the Croppy Boys of 1798.

Paps of Anu, Co. Kerry.

3 Da Chích Anann, the Paps of the Goddess Anu, who was associated with the Mórrigan.
Between the mountains lie Gleannfreagham, 'The Glen of the Ravens'.

4 Below the Paps is Gort-na-Morrigna, Mórrigan’s field, Co. Louth, which in Irish mythology
was the gift given to the Mórrigan by her husband, the Dagdha.

Drombeg: photo © Megalithic Ireland.com
5 Several fulacht or ancient cooking places within the landscape are known as Fulacht na Morrigna,
Mórrigans' hearth. When the Goddess resided at Tara her cooking spit was famous for its' size
and ability to hold and cook three sorts of food at one time.

6 Within the hearth sits a cauldron from the Late Bronze Age found in a bog in Castlederg,
Co. Tyrone and believed to have been made for ritual purposes.
The bronze cauldron is on display in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin.

Bronze cauldron: © 100objects.ie
7 Within the rising steam curls a wolf, a raven & an eel each of which the Mórrigan,
as shape-shifter, transformed into.

8 The final element of the painting shows the River Barrow.
The Goddess is associated with Samhain and with various rivers also appearing in mythology as
the 'Washer at the Ford', an aspect of the Mórrigan who prophecies the death of warriors in
forthcoming battle by standing in a stream washing their bloody armour.

We are also told that The Mórrigan had a son, Mechi, who had three hearts each containing
the shapes of three serpents within them.
Mac Cecht killed Mechi so that the serpents would not grow to consume or blight the island.
He removed the hearts, burnt them and threw the ashes into a river which boiled up.
The 'boiling'  river, the berba, is thought to be the River Barrow, one of the three sister rivers.

The model for the painting was Carmel Ní Dhuibheanaigh.


Please also visit:

If anyone is interested in cards or posters of the Mórrigan please email me at -

Thursday, 16 October 2014

The Ever-Living Ones on Facebook

Never thought I'd manage to do this.

I have finally found the time and the energy to set up a Facebook page for The Ever-Living Ones.
If you are on Facebook and would like to drop by and like / follow you can find me in the
column on the right or HERE
Look forward to seeing you!