An age old tradition was kept very much alive last week in the small school of Meenagowan in Lettermacaward when both teachers and pupils joined together to make the traditional crosses for La Fheile Bride.
Meenagowan National School was a typical, traditional, two-roomed school when it first opened its doors in its present building and location back in 1929.
Some years ago, a small extension was built onto the rear of the school providing a store room, corridor and cloakroom, and toilets. The school has since been renovated with a new extension which provides staff toilets, a staff room, and a Learning Support/Resource room.
In Christian mythology, 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 baptised.
The story goes that the man was extremely ill and was at death’s door. Some of his household sent for Brigid to talk to him about Christ and when she arrived, the man was raving.
Brigid stooped down and started to weave them into a cross, fastening the points together. The sick man asked what she was doing and 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.
The pupils and teachers made a great effort in ensuring that authentic crosses were made to mark this ancient tradition with Hughie ‘John Mór’ who was 82 last Christmas swishing and scything his way through the rushes which he gathered for his grand children Ciara and Jason Hanlon and their classmates at Meenagowan NS
Seventy years on from his first serious bit of mowing and cutting the rushes Hughie still enjoys bringing those rushes down.
“All in a good cause as this haul will make it’s way to Meenagowan NS for St Bridgid’s Day,” he said
The crosses are made on February 1st and are reputed to ward off all evil. They are a common sight in many households in the country and at one time, the cross was the emblem RTE 1.