Got an ancestor named after St Brigid?

Monday, 1 February, 2021
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Got a Brigid or Delia in your family tree? Our ancestors' penchant for naming a daughter after this patron saint of Ireland has left so many of us with the daunting task of looking for a needle in a haystack. The good news is, we can help each other out.

Let's honour our female ancestors for #StBrigidsDay. Add your Bridget to our Ancestors roll-call for the day that's in it. Click here to ADD YOUR ANCESTOR

 

St Brigid's day in Ireland - February 1st

Lá Fhéile Bríde ~ St. Brigid's Day is traditionally associated in Ireland with the coming of spring and renewal. Of Ireland's three patron saints, St Brigid is the only female and in recent years it has become customary to celebrate the creativity and talent of women on #StBrigidsDay. ​

To this day St Brigid aka Mary of the Gael is symbolised by the first cross she wove from field rushes. Her story and cross-making are still a much-loved lesson in Irish schools.

St Brigid's crosses were made the night before February 1st in preparation for a church blessing on her feast day. Other customs that have long-since died out include

  • young girls shaping heather or straw into a Brídeog doll representing St Brigid. (To bring from door to door, collecting, on Brigid's night);
  • a piece of cloth hung out that day would cure a sore throat;
  • a handful of sheep's wool left on the doorstep overnight would cure a cold;
  • a piece of bread in the window was said to cure any sickness. 

How Irish is the name Brigid? 

With all this in mind, it's understandable why Bridget aka Delia has long been a popular given name for Irish girls. But how far back does the tradition of this name go in Ireland? 

St Brigid of Ireland aka Saint Brigid of Kildare (c. 451-525AD) was born in Ireland and named for a pagan pre-Christian goddess. (Some scholars say her name is derived from Proto-Celtic *Brigantī meaning "the exalted one"). 

In Roman Catholic baptisms (traditionally recorded in Latin) Bríget was often recorded as Bidelia / Phidelia or Brigida / Brigidae and the alias Delia was used a lot by emigrating ancestors.

Gaelic Notes Anglicised
Brigit Old Irish  BridgetBrigid, Briadget, Bridaet, Bridat, Briddet, Briddget, Brideget, Bridegt, Bridet, Bridett, Bridgat, Bridgeet, Bridgert

Briġid 

Bríd*

Modern Irish Bríghid, Breege | Breda, Breeda

Bedelia

Bidelia

Latin Delia,  Phidelia, Cordelia | Dilly, Dillie, Dina, Bedina, Biddy 
Brídín

hear it 

Little Bridget

 

Breedeen, Brideen, Bridgeen (Ulster dialect)
Brídeog

hear it

Brigid Jr.

Breegodue, Bridgog, BiddyBridey
Bessy nickname Beesy, Bess, Bessie
Bridey nickname Bridie, Briddy, Bride

*The spelling variations Bríd and Brigid were adopted as spelling reforms in the 1940s.

READ MORE Got an ancestor named after St Patrick? 


Over to you...

Got a 19th-century Brigid or Delia in your family tree? We'd love if you added her to our Ancestors roll-call here: