Flora and Fauna associated with Brighid

Flora and Fauna Associated with Brighid

Plant life

  • Oak : The most obvious tree associated with her as this is the root of the place-name of the saints’ religious foundation: Kildare. This is derived from Cill Dara or “the church of the oak tree” and the saints’ foundation is strongly believed to have been founded on (or converted from) a Pagan holy place of the Goddess. 
  • Hazel : I owe this tree suggestion to the work done by Steve Blamires in his ‘Celtic Tree Mysteries’. Apparently, one description of the hazel tree in an ogham text is as the “fairest of trees” which is Cainiu Fedaib in Irish. However, cainiu also has the alternative meanings of to “keen over a death” and to “satirize someone”. For those who may be unfamiliar with these terms, to keen was the Irish practise of lamentation and wailing over the dead while a satire was not a specific form of humour, as in today’s general meaning, but was an unpleasant poem against a person and could range from insulting them to acting as destructive magic against them. These meanings firmly mark the hazel as a special tree of the Goddess as it was Brighid who was said to have started the practise of keening after the death of her son Ruadan and also Brighid who was the matron of the poets (filid) in Ireland. Another aspect which firmly links it to Brighid is that the hazel is strongly associated with wisdom.
  • Dandelion : This prolific little yellow flower is called bearnan Bride, or the “little notched of Bride”, according to notes in the Carmina Gadelica.


  • Cow : Cattle are possibly the most commonly mentioned animals associated with the Goddess. Brighid was said to be raised on the milk of an otherworld cow and Scottish charms, recorded in the Carmina Gadelica, call her ‘Bride of the milk and kine’ and ‘Brigit of the kine’. St. Brigid was said to have a white cow whose milk never ran dry. The Lebor Gabala Érenn mentions that the goddess Brigid, the daughter of The Dagda, had two royal oxen which (along with her Triath) cried out when Ireland was plundered. 
  • Boar : The Lebor Gabala also mentions that Brigid owned Triath (more commonly known as Torc Triath) which was the king of her boars. This great boar, along with her oxen, raised a cry when Ireland was plundered. There is evidence from the Welsh tradition of the importance of this boar for they have retained a tale of the hunt of an enchanted boar called Twrch Trwyth which was once a king. An examination of the cuts on boar bones excavated in Celtic countries has suggested that they were used more for ritual than for food. The boar hunt is an important motif in Celtic literature though archaeological evidence suggests that the stag hunt was a more common occurrence. Miranda Green has shown the battle symbolism of boars as their images were placed as motifs on weapons and armour. The martial nature of such an association is not incompatible with the calm loving goddess who is patroness of healers (amongst other occupations). It can be argued from the symbolism seen on the Romanised statue of Brigantia found in Birrens (the Brythonic Brigid) that She, appropriately enough for a Great Goddess, has a sovereign aspect and acts as a protectress: She bears a spear in one hand and a ‘globe’ in the other. To ensure peace within and protection for a community, it is necessary to be prepared to fight for them if the circumstances demand.
  • Serpent? : A serpent was supposed to emerge on St. Bride’s day, February 1st, and a song was sung to it. One version of this is:
    Early on Bride’s morn
    The serpent shall come from the hole,
    I will not molest the serpent
    Nor will the serpent molest me.

    This has been interpreted as a remnant of serpent worship. The element of uncertainty is because a folk custom was also recorded in the Carmina Gadelica on this day which is suggestive of a symbolic pounding of the serpent’s head but unfortunately the actual original significance of the pounding act is no longer known.

These are taken from notes in the Carmina Gadelica.

  • Linnet : bigein Bride or “little bird of Bride”.
  • Oyster-Catcher : Bridein or “Bird of Bride”. Also, gille Bride or “page of Bride”

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    Flora and Fauna Associated with Brighid Pat Deegan This is intended to be the first version of an article looking at the flora and fauna associated wi
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