Happy St Brigid’s Day

In Ireland, the first of February is Saint Brigid’s Day and seen by many as the first day of spring. Brigid is one of Ireland’s patron saints and was also known as a fertility goddess in Celtic mythology. Her day falls on the day of a pagan festival known as Imbolc, which celebrates the longer days and first signs of spring. Imbolc is one of four ‘fire’ festivals celebrated in Irish Mythology – the others being  Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain. St. Brigid is also know as “Mary of the Gael” and she was the founder of the first Irish monastery in Kildare.

Over centuries, people have made St Brigid’s crosses from rushes. These were traditionally made on the eve of St Brigid (31st January) and were hung in people’s house. The crosses were thought to protect the houses from evil, fire and hunger. Sometimes crosses were placed in the cow byre to protect the animals and to keep the milk flowing. For some, the cross was a symbol of peace and good will, and was offered as peace offering after a local quarrel.

There are a couple of different designs – the one I have photographed below is one I have made since childhood from rushes that grow wild in the fields. It is probably the most common design. There is also a three-armed one (one suggestion was that this was the one hung in the cow byres). If you are interested there is more information on

Copies of the various crosses can also be seen at the Country Life Muesum in Turlough (

Brigid's Cross

Brigid’s Cross

I would not describe myself as a religious person. But I love the culture, folklore, traditions and stories that surround many of our saints. That is why tomorrow I will be spending some time with some local children helping keep the tradition of making the Brigid’s cross.


I have decided to do a month poetry corner, as part of the blogging 101 course to set a regular feature. I will aim to post a poem at the end of each month.

Out for a walk earlier today, I thought it would be something about our recent stormy weather. However, as I walked, I was reminded of a walk I had in the summer following the exact same path. I recalled the butterflies that seemed to be everywhere that day. So instead of storms I was inspired to do a poem about them. I wrote about them in my other blog at the time and checking it I realize it was September – but we had a lovely September so it may as well have been summer –


Speckled wood butterfly

Speckled wood butterfly



way up high,

above where the flowers grow.



take me there,

to summer blue sky.



winter is biting,


a wing beat,

a memory.

Express Yourself – weekly photo challenge

This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge is Express Yourself –

Express Yourself

Last summer, having being inspired by something I saw on the web, we made some rock faces on the beach. Great fun for young and old and great way to express yourself creatively.




Mildred’s Lost her Spots

As part of today blogging 101 assignment to publish something new I thought I’d try some children’s fiction. I wrote this story and then found that someone had already published a book with a very similar theme – so it has sat on my computer since.

Mildred the ladybird woke up early one morning. She got out of bed and stretched herself and yawned loudly. Then she looked in the mirror and discovered that her six black spots were missing! Where could they be? Mildred looked under the bed but there were no spots there. She looked in the wardrobe. She looked in the bathroom. She looked in the kitchen. She looked all over the house but she could not find her spots.

‘Where are my spots? What will I do without them?’ cried Mildred. She would have to get help to find them. She walked down the street and stopped to ask Andy the ant. Andy was a very small but fast ant.

‘Andy have you seen my spots?’

‘Spots, what do you want spots for? You look fine without them,’ said the ant as he ran off down the road.

Mildred walked on and met Diana the butterfly. Diana was very beautiful. On her wings she had two black spots of her own.

‘Diana have you seen my spots?’ Mildred asked.

Diana looked down at Mildred. ‘How could you lose our spots?’ said the butterfly in her posh voice.

‘I just woke up this morning and they were gone,’ explained Mildred.

‘You silly ladybird,’ said Diana. ‘I never take my spots off.’ Diane looked up at the tips of wings and admired her own two spots.

‘Do you have any spare spots?’ Mildred asked hopefully.

‘Even if I had I would not lend them to you,’ said Diana as she flapped her wings and flew gracefully away.

Poor Mildred was feeling very sad. What was she going to do? She went to see her friend Danny the dragonfly.

‘Danny I have lost my spots,’ Mildred said as large tears fell down her cheeks. ‘What am I going to do?’

Danny shook his head. ‘Have you looked for them?’ he asked.

‘I’ve searched everywhere but I cannot find them. I feel strange without them,’ sighed Mildred.

‘Do not worry Mildred,’ said Danny, ‘I have an idea.’ He led Mildred into his garage.

‘Look,’ said Danny, ‘I have a pot of black paint. We can paint you new spots.’

Mildred agreed it was a good idea.

Danny dipped a large paint brush into the pot of paint. He lifted it up. Danny was about to paint a spot on Mildred when he accidentally knocked the paint pot over. Mildred was now covered in black paint!

‘Oh no!’ they both cried.

Mildred was completely black. All her shiny red was gone.

‘I am so sorry,’ said Danny the dragonfly. He tried to wipe the paint off but it was already drying.

Mildred started to cry.

‘Do not worry Mildred,’ said Danny. ‘Look I have a pot of red paint.’

Mildred looked at the pot of red paint. She dried her tears.

‘I have an idea,’ she said. ‘Will you paint me red spots?’

‘Are you sure that is what you want?’

‘Yes,’ said Mildred.

Danny the dragonfly dipped his paintbrush into the red paint. Then very carefully he painted six red spots on Mildred’s back. When he was finished he brought Mildred a mirror. She looked at herself in.

‘I like the red spots,’ said Mildred. ‘I like them very much.


What have Elizabeth Bennet and Malala Yousafzai got in common?

Today’s blogging 101 assignment, is to write something based on the ‘Daily Prompt’. I read it ( and I thought – that is too much like hard work. But then I had a look at the Commons page and was inspired by who took a character from her favourite book and one she was currently reading.

Elizabeth Bennet is the main protagonist from my favourite book Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth is the second daughter of a relatively well-off family in 19th Century England. I am currently reading I Am Malala a memoir by Malala Yousafzai the Nobel Peace prize winner. Malala got the prize for her struggle to promote education for all. In 2012, Malala was shot by the taliban – she was just 15 years old. She survived the attack.

Despite the huge gap in time, I have been wondering what Malala and Elizabeth would talk about if they met each other. I think they would have much to discuss in particular education and the rights of woman. Family is important for both ladies. They had strong relationships with their fathers and this would be another topic of interest to them both. Personally I think Elizabeth would be impressed by Malala’s bravery. At the same time she would be disappointed by the world’s progress in education and woman’s rights.

It is sad to think that in 2015, free education is still not available to all children. There are approximately 58 million children worldwide that do not have access to primary education. Hundred’s of thousands of woman are trafficked worldwide each year; in some countries woman are not allowed to attend schools or vote.

Malala began writing for a BBC blog when she was just eleven years old ( I wonder would Elizabeth Bennet have blogged too – I think she would!


Stormy Weather

Living in the west of Ireland, we sometimes get battered by Atlantic storms, as we did last night and this morning. We’re lucky to be living about 40 miles inland and in a relatively sheltered spot. So when I reading aranislandgirl I could only begin to imagine what it would feel like to be on a little island surround on all sides by the seas (

A number of years ago, I read a book entitled, Mayo’s Lost Islands: The Inishkeas by Brian Dornan. The book is a social history of the Inishkea Islands, two islands off the west coast, near the Mullett Peninsula. In 1927, a great storm suddenly blew up while the men were out fishing in their currachs (a small, open fishing boat with a wooden frame, over which canvas is stretch and tarred). Ten young men were drowned which had a devastating effect on the small island community and within a few years the islands were abandoned for the mainland. One of the most fascinating aspects of the book was the description of the ‘Naomhóg’. It was a small, doll-like object and the islanders believed that it had the power to calm the sea and keep the men at sea safe. I was so fascinated by this story that I was inspired to write a children’s story based loosely on some of the Naomhóg’s supposed powers.



Today’s task on blogging 101 is to write for my dream reader (well actually this was last week’s task, for which I am running late). Well my dream reader must be you! Because anyone who has taken the time to to drop by is more than welcome. In Irish we say – Céad Míle Fáilte – it means a hundred thousand welcomes. From the age of 5, till I left school at 18, I was taught Irish. I’m sorry to say that my grasp of the language is pitiful. It wasn’t till I lived in Scotland for a while, and met people who had a true love of their native Scots Gaelic that I realized what I’d missed out on. My son is learning it at school now and he comes home with words that I recognize from all those years ago. I wrote a poem once using some Irish phrases on ‘rain’ – but I admit that the internet was a great help for the only one I could remember was Ag cur báisti.


The Irish on rain

Inuits have numerous names for snow.

40 to 500 depending who you read,

though 500 is now reliably a hoax

or so someone says.


The Irish have numerous names for rain;

Ag cur báisti,

rain waters my garden,

clagairt, tuile,

fails to keep the chickens inside,


sprinkles morning cobwebs with diamond dust,

scrabhanna básiti,

refreshes the pond,

clears the dust from the front step,


fills the puddles

so the blackbird can have his bath

Introduce self to Blogging 101

I am a bit behind in my tasks on my blogging 101 course – the first task from last week was to introduce oneself. I am a mother of two young children (nearly seven and three and a half); I am a gardener (not professionally just something I love to do); I work part-time in a job that is badly paid but I work with amazing volunteers; I am an ecologist but these day this doesn’t pay me much, it just means I have another excuse for observing nature; and finally, I like to think myself as a writer.

Writing is something I have dabbled with since childhood. I never quite know where I fit. I have tried poetry, children’s fiction and adult fiction and non-fiction (check out my other  blog at where I wear my ecologist and gardener hat). Through my Murtagh’s Meadow blog I have become somewhat addicted to blogging. It lets me share my love of nature while at the same time allowing me to write and share my photographs.

In deciding to do the blogging 101 course, I thought it may be a way of exploring my writing more. It is a journey, or perhaps more an adventure, for I know not where it will lead.