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Modern day Brigids tell their story: ‘I knew it was the perfect name for a little girl who was going to have a lot of struggles in her life’

Photographer Deirdre Brennan travelled Ireland photographing Brieges, Bríds and Bridgeens, Bridies, Brigids and Brigit

What’s in a Brigid name? For photographer Deirdre Brennan, who spent five months last year travelling the country, it meant flexibility. “I was looking for Brigids and its iteration,” she explains. Brennan put out a post on Instagram last summer looking to make portraits of people called variations of Brigid, which was widely shared: more than 1,000 people responded.

Brennan is interested in social justice and history. Her past projects have included photographing people in the reflection of a 1920s mirror, which she named Centenary of the Irish State.

In all, partially funded by the Arts Council, she photographed some 70 children and women. Each shoot took about two hours. Collectively, these Brieges and Bríds and Bridgeens, Bridies and Brigids compose a celebration of the saint and her name, whose feast day has given us our newest national holiday.

Brennan’s images will be projected on to the Palace Building on Barnardo Square in Dublin from February 1st to 5th as part of the Brigit 2024 Festival.


Brigid McFadden (8 weeks)

“When Brigid was born I decided that she would draw the line under intergenerational trauma. On August 25th, 1989, Brigid’s grandfather Loughlin Maginn was murdered in front of his wife and four children in his home. I was 11 months old when four UDA men came into our home and shot my daddy in the back as he ran up the stairs. That changed the course of our lives forever.

“I found out I was expecting her on the week leading up to St Brigid’s day. She is my sixth baby and was very much a surprise. My husband and I found ourselves in a situation where we were truly worried about our future and our abilities to cope with another baby physically and financially as our brood included four under four at the time. We spent a some days in turmoil and explored options we would never have considered before.

“That week I prayed and meditated to St Brigid along with a group of women online. I asked her for guidance, for her strength, her resilience. Could I do this? Was I a capable mother? She stepped out of the fire and she told me that the baby in my belly would be a beautiful, strong, inspirational woman. An artist. A revolutionary. And I knew then at just five weeks, that this baby would have the spirit of a goddess and that her name would be Brigid. I am sure she is the youngest Brigid in the whole of Ireland.”

Brigid McDonnell

“My name is Brigid McDonnell and I am a female farmer on the highest hill farm in Co Antrim, and proud of it, there are not a lot of us around. When I am out on the mountain gathering sheep I like the idea that I am following in the footsteps of people who went before me. My father spent all his time walking the mountain like an old traditional shepherd. I think of old miners in the 1800s who mined for iron ore out in that land. When I am walking in the mist I sometimes think are there old miners walking with me that I can’t see.”

Bríd Logue

“I am wearing my granny Brigid Logue’s dress that she wore if guests were coming to the house. I feel strong when I wear her dress. She was widowed at a young age and had to raise six children alone. She went from rags to riches.

I am holding her iron as she threw herself into housework for solace. She had two sons who were priests so there were a lot of black clothes to be ironed. She had a lot of pride in there being two priests in the family. It was also a burden on her. They needed wool coats and the best attire when she, herself, was struggling to make ends meet.”

Brigid Leahy

“My name is Brigid Leahy and I am a Vietnamese-Irish-American actress and director living in Dublin. My father loved the novel Trinity by Leon Uris so I am named after one of the characters in the book. I see Brigid, the saint or goddess, as a feminist figure. She was someone who was able to take power into her own hands. She was a woman for women. I like the idea of women governing their own space. Brigid was able to take power and place it into the hands of women.”

Bridey Fawley (12)

“I love my name. There are not a lot of other 12-year-olds named Bridie around. I was in a shop one day when I was five and my mother called for me. An elderly lady turned around who was also Bridie and she said she had never met a little Bridie before. I love playing camogie, listening to Taylor Swift and I also play the concertina with Comhaltas.”

Bridie Gribbin

“I was brought up with seven brothers so poker was one game I did not need physical strength for and could hold my own. For once I could beat them at things.”

Brigid Whinnery (3)

Pictured is Brigid Whinnery (3) from Omagh who was born with Down Syndrome. Brigid required emergency heart surgery at eight months. The surgeons in Crumlin Children’s Hospital proposed a new type of surgery where the valve from a calf was placed in the mitral position of her heart. The surgery was a success. St Brigid is the patron saint of cattle, which her mother Catherine says is an extraordinary coincidence. “The association that I have with St Brigid is of her being a warrior as much as a saint, and I just knew that was the perfect name for a little girl who was going to have a lot of struggles in her life.

“She is such a strong, brave little girl and also very emotionally intelligent. When Brigid was very ill we asked everyone we knew to pray for her because we just knew we could not let her go. So the whole town and the next town and the town after that, pretty much the whole of the North, were praying for her at a point. And even to this day I will meet strangers who tell me they have heard of Brigid’s story. It is lovely that her story has reached so many people and can be a source of inspiration.”

Bridget McDermott

“My name is Bridget McDermott. These are my three children William, George and Marcella who died in The Stardust Tragedy on February 14th, 1981. I love them, I miss them, God bless them.”

Briege Morrison (6)

“I like to play football and I play soccer for Tri Star Football Club. I like to paint pictures. I love story time and reading. I like sweets, Crunchies are my favourite.”

Brigid Kavita

“The name Brigid was so sensational in my village, no one knew how to pronounce it. I grew up in a Protestant Church called African Brotherhood Church whereby you get baptised at 11-years-old and that is when you get to choose your Baptism names. My sister went to a boarding school where she met a beautiful and intelligent girl named Brigid and she fell in love with the name. When she came back home and I was at the stage of choosing names she told me “Brigid it is”. I loved the name and that is how I became a Brigid.”

Brigid Raven Smith

“I am nine months pregnant and I got my name from my parent’s love of mythology. My father is Roma and he loves all myths and tales. They say that when I was born I came to my mother in a dream as a grown child and said I would like my name to be Brigid Raven.”

Bridget Harper

“I went to a hire fair in November 1945 when I was 14. I went to work with a farmer. I arrived at five in the evening and I was handed a bucket for to go and milk cows that I hadn’t a clue how to do it. I worked in agricultural work until I was married. I always loved sheep, we would go count them at night. I always had Brigid’s cross with me no matter where I went. I always believed she would protect me.”

Bridgeen Bustinza

“I am the third generation of Brigid’s, my grandmother is Brigid and my mother is Briege. I am Bridgeen. I am Peruvian/Irish. I like lots of 1990s music. I like playing the violin. I love fashion. I have different styles for every day.”