Learning @ Muckross

St. Brigid's Cross - An Introduction

Woven Cross, Ballyvelly, Tralee

Diamond Cross, Carhoonahone, Beaufort



The St. Brigid’s Cross

The making of St Brigid’s crosses is one custom that was once widely practiced across Ireland. The crosses were made in honour of Ireland’s female patron saint, St Brigid, whose feast days falls on the 1st of February. Traditionally this date was considered to mark the first day of Spring.

There were many local varieties of the St Brigid’s cross, which was usually made from rushes. However crosses made of straw, and even timber, were also known. Sometimes the cross had a foundation of twigs, around which the straw, or rushes,
were woven.

The cross was usually inserted into the underside of the roof, usually above the door. Prior to the introduction of wooden ceilings the sod bed, to which the external thatch was pegged, was visible directly overhead in the dwelling. Often a new cross was pinned to the sod every year, so that it was sometimes possible to estimate how long the dwelling had been occupied. However, in other cases, the old cross was simply removed and replaced with a new one.

The St Brigid’s cross was widely believed to provide protection against illness, evil spirits, fires, storms and lightening. Often a cross was also hung up in the byre, or stable, to provide protection for the animals. In some northern counties it was a cross with three legs, instead of four, that was hung in the byre.

Above you will find two videos that will assist you in making two different types of cross that were once found within
County Kerry.

Muckross House Research Library
Image of Muckross House




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