St. Brigid’s Day – The Original Rush Job

The St. Brigid’s Day reminder here came from Margaret Reidy.
The original Rush job: The tradition of making St. Brigid’s Crosses is still widely practiced in schools and in many parts of Ireland today. ©Photograph: John Reidy

I just got the photograph here on the page from Margaret Reidy as a reminder that today is indeed St. Brigid’s Day and the first day of spring.

We really don’t know what St. Brigid did to deserve her lofty perch in Irish legend and religious circles.
Other than being quick-witted enough to see what was under her feet while trying to cobble a cross together to convert a dying pagan.

Against the Clock
She must have had some inkling of what working against the clock is like. It is, of course, the original ‘Rush-Job’ or maybe that’s where the always smartening term ‘Deadline’ came from.

How is it that St. Patrick Day is celebrated so well and so widely here and that many people have to be reminded of St. Brigid’s Day.

Patrick’s Wider Canvassed

Is it that Patrick canvassed farther and wider than Brigid did and his deeds were broadcast on a broader canvass.

But there is an edge of creativity to the real and proper celebration of St. Brigid’s Day.

Provider of Rushes

My father fed and clothed us by making souvenirs. I became the provider of rushes. I also became an schools expert in cutting bundles of rushes with a blunt butcher’s knife off Leane’s fields on January evenings. My siblings were inside playing their own parts – but while watching Daithí Lacha and Murphy agus a Cháirde on the fledgling Teilfís Éireann.

Specific Lengths

Those rushes then had to be cut to specific lengths and dried near and under the range layered on beds of newspapers.

The making of the crosses would go on for days and nights and they’d have to be tied and glued to a back and varnished and put on a stand. There was drama too. In damp weather the varnish was slow to dry and the calendar and the clock got frequent anxious glances as deadlines approached.

Wrapped in Newspapers

When they did dry, each one was wrapped up individually in newspapers and packed in tea-chests – which Francie ‘The Poet’ O’Connor always kept for us. They’d be sectioned off for the various towns and counties which their hand printed caption indicated.

Once the plywood top was re-nailed down on the boxes, Moss Curtin and myself headed into town with our hand cart to the post office and away they went to a distributor in Cloughjordan in Tipperary.

Happy St. Brigid’s Day and thank you Margaret for the reminder – not that I’ll ever forget the day and its associations.

If you’d like to learn about the significance of St. Brigid in the context of today’s world, simply click on the link here:

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