In this Issue: Monthly Talks, Imbolg in Ireland, Goddess Gathering, Make your own Brigid's Cross, Rathcroghan Archaeology, news & events from Tulsk.

Tulsk Times - News from Rathcroghan

JANUARY, 2013  VOL. 3  ISSUE 1
Tired of the same TV shows?  Want to meet new people with similar interests?  Have a chat and a cup of tea in relaxed, knowledgeable company?  Do you want something a little different to do with your evenings?

Monthly Lecture Series for 2013!
On the last Thursday of every month, the Rathcroghan Visitor Centre will be hosting an informative talk on scheduled topics of interest.
  • Thursday 31st January, 7pm, "Archaeology of Oweynagat, the Cave of the Cats", with Gary Dempsey (resident expert!).  Admission is just €5, which includes free tea/coffee on the night.

Next month, we'll try something a little different, with a FREE afternoon presentation by Lora O'Brien, author of A Practical Guide to Irish Spirituality.
  • Thursday 28th February, 2pm, "Irish Springtime Traditions".  We'll even throw in the free tea/coffee as part of the deal for that one too.  Did we mention it's Free?!

TO BOOK YOUR PLACE - please Ring us on 071 9639268, or send an Email to  We'd love to hear about what day/time suit you best?


The Gaelic/Celtic feast day, Imbolg, also known as Imbolc, or Lá Fheile Bríd, is the fire festival of springtime, a feast celebrating the end of the winter months, and to encourage the fertility, prosperity and security of the milder springtime.  From Neolithic man to post-Christian Celt this date has been marked in one form or another for over 5,000 years. 
The actual day on which the feast of Brigit, be it Goddess or Saint you honour, varies from the 31st of January to the 4th of February.  Those Romano Celtic nations such as Bretons, Gauls and Britons tended to celebrate this festival according to the Spring equinoctial dates; Celtic Ireland however has a long tradition of marking the date itself, with Brigit’s eve falling on January 31st and Brigit’s Day on February 1st. The difference in attitude between pagan Celt and Roman toward astrology accounts for this difference in tradition.  Whatever the day one chooses to mark, however, the feast of Brigit is celebrated with a common cause.  The Saint Brigit has many of the same characteristics and attributes as her predecessor goddess, (the early Celtic church having deliberately endowed her with them to replace the almost indefatigable worship of Brigit Goddess!).
So what is this festival about? As an Equinoctial date it marks the beginning of the end of winter, a fact of immense significance to Neolithic man who would have gathered at Rathcroghan (Cruachú), or Newgrange (associated with Boann), to light the bonfires with which every feast of moment in the Irish calendar is celebrated.  Those who had survived the harshest part of winter could relax a little – they were likely now to see the summer and plenty.  Livestock would begin to reproduce, and again if they had survived this far, they would probably make it through to summer also.  It was time to start considering repairs to the homesteads, look forward to the hunting and fishing activities of spring/summer, consider pairing off and marrying the tribes' young, look forward to the birth of children conceived during the long winter.

Later on, in the Iron Age as a Gaelic Festival, it is thought that at this time the people were predominantly occupied with issues of Fertility, Love, Marriage, Purity, Cleansing and Healing.  Surviving folk-customs underpin that this time of year was one for lovers, for arranging marriages, for rites of healing, for purifying with water and fire.  The “St. Valentine Day” rituals were originally part of the Brigit Celebrations.  Brigit was the patron of crafts, spinning, weaving, sewing, baking, grinding, mills, health, livestock, the Hearth, cooking.  As art of her “healing” role there are sacred wells and springs all over Ireland and Britain, dedicated to the healing powers of Brigit.  She is also associated with fire rituals: the bonfires lit on Brigit’s eve, plus the tradition of purifying livestock, woman and new born children by passing a burning rush brand over, under and around them.  Grown-ups leapt the bonfire for the same reason. Fire was brought around the house, and water from a sacred well sprinkled around the house, after it has been thoroughly cleaned.  Girdles of rushes, known as Bríd’s Girdle were made, for people and livestock, through which they were passed three times in order to protect against illness.
(See Roscommon Well Wishers on Facebook for local info on holy wells)
Spring Cleaning was a product of these ancient customs.  The house had to be cleaned from top to bottom, and aired, a sensible custom when communal living at close quarters during the winter was the norm; indeed the idea of spring-cleaning probably did help protect against - and get rid of - all manner of germs! Psychologically it symbolised a fresh new season, time to get out and about, move around the countryside again, to give and receive visits.

Article contributed by Geraldine Byrne, commissioned for The Mysteries teaching website, Copyright 2002.  Used with permission.


Goddess Gathering Ireland 2013

Over at the far end of this year, we have an important spiritual event planned - the Goddess Gathering 2013.  Presenters already confirmed include world famous authors such as Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone, Vivianne Crowley, Stephan Grundy and our own Lora O'Brien.  The event will run from Fri 22nd to Sun 24th November, in Tulsk, Co. Roscommon.  The event website is a work in progress HERE, but you can register your interest at the Gathering Ireland events guide now.


Brigid's cross, Brighid's cross or Brigit's cross (Irish: Cros Bríde, Crosóg Bríde or Bogha Bríde) is an Irish symbol.  Though a Christian symbol, it possibly derives from the pagan sunwheel.  It is usually made from rushes or, less often, straw.  It comprises a woven square in the centre and four radials tied at the ends. 
Brigid's crosses are associated with Brigid of Kildare, who is venerated as one of the patron saints of Ireland. The crosses are traditionally made on 1 February, which in the Irish language is called Lá Fhéile Bhríde (St Brigid's feast day), the day of her liturgical celebration. 
Many rituals are associated with the making of the crosses.  It was traditionally believed that a Brigid's Cross protects the house from fire and evil.  It is hung in many Irish and Irish-American kitchens for this purpose.  Brigid's cross (sometimes stylized) was used to represent Telefís Éireann and RTÉ 1 (later RTÉ One); in 1961 to 1987 and 1993 to 2000.
In Christian religion, St. Brigid and her cross are linked together by a story about her weaving this form of cross at the death bed of either her father or a pagan lord, who upon hearing what the cross meant, asked to be baptized.  One version goes as follows:
A pagan chieftain from the neighbourhood of Kildare was dying.  Christians in his household sent for Brigid to talk to him about Christ.  When she arrived, the chieftain was raving.  As it was impossible to instruct this delirious man, hopes for his conversion seemed doubtful.  Brigid sat down at his bedside and began consoling him.  As was customary, the dirt floor was strewn with rushes both for warmth and cleanliness.  Brigid stooped down and started to weave them into a cross, fastening the points together.  The sick man asked what she was doing. She began to explain the cross, and as she talked, his delirium quieted and he questioned her with growing interest.  Through her weaving, he converted and was baptized at the point of death.  Since then, the cross of rushes has existed in Ireland.

The presence of the cross in Ireland is, however, likely far older.  The Goddess Brigid was one of the Tuatha Dé Danann.  Her feast day was the feast of Imbolg, and the cross made of rushes today is very likely the descendant of a pagan symbol whose original meaning may have been locally understood even into the early 20th century in rural Ireland.  One remnant of that tradition in the meaning of the Brigid's Cross today, is that it is said to protect a house from fire.  This does not fit with any part of the Christian story of St. Brigid, and so is likely a part of the older polytheistic tradition behind the feast day.


Rathcroghan Archaeological Events

There are some excellent articles of interest in the current IQUA Field Guide on sale through our shop, or you can Email Us to get your copy for just €10 plus P&P.  Articles include Summary of Project at Carns and Tulsk by Brian Shanahan of the Discovery Programme, Lidar of the pitfields at Rathcroghan by Kevin Barton, and Oweynagat Cave by Gary Dempsey.

Rathcroghan Visitor Centre are hosting an exciting new 7 day Field School from Sat 6th April to Friday 12th April (inclusive) - which is a Remote Sensing technological training week for archaeologists and students, costing €250 per person - which includes accommodation.

The annual Rathcroghan Archaeological Conference begins the evening of Friday 12th April, and continues until Sunday 14th April, and will showcase our rich Roscommon heritage to an international audience.  You can view the Gathering Ireland event listing HERE.  Our conference is held in partnership with the Tulsk Inn, making use of the spacious new Country Ballroom (also available for weddings!), and we'd like to express a huge thanks to Pat and Selina Galvin for their continued support and co-operation in our community work.

Tulsk Village

We are sorry to report that the Access Issues remain unresolved, but we are nonetheless looking to the future for the village of Tulsk.  There is a lot happening here in 2013, including the Tulsk Priory & Graveyard Conservation Project, which the Visitor Centre has been working for since 2009, and we are delighted to be working with Roscommon County Council and LEADER Partnership to progress this.  

There are 2 Gathering events planned:

  • Tulsk Revisited Gathering will take place on Sunday 22th of September and will have a 3 day lead in period with lots of activities planned for the overseas visitors.  All overseas visitors will get to visit the National School for the last hour of school on Friday 20th September.
Big Congrats to local man Niall Sheerin on the Roscommon Premiere of his film "The Hunt".  

When Raymond Featherstone (Kevin Beirne), a married man with two children, is nabbed outside of the local brothel, he finds it hard to keep his demons at bay. 
Featuring Seamus Moran (Fair City), Gráinne Bleasdale (Aifric), Martin Maloney (Hardy Bucks) and Jacek Dusznik.

Follow on Twitter    Friend on Facebook    Forward to Friend 
Copyright © 2013 Rathcroghan Visitor Centre, All rights reserved.
unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 
Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp