Sunday, 27 January 2019

Celebrating Brigid and Ardagh


This article was originally published by Ann Gerety Smyth here in 2017and featured in the Longford Leader that year.

St. Brigid and Longford

Here we are at another 1st February, St. Brigid’s Day, the festival of Imbolc, the beginning of Spring. It sprung into my mind that while St. Brigid is famously connected to Kildare, that we should explore her links with Longford as she continue to be acknowledged locally by all the churches, schools and clubs that are named after the Patroness of Ireland and by the traditions that are alive in the area.

Who is Brigid?
The St. Brigid everyone knows about is the St. Brigid we learned about at school, a slave by birth, born  circa 453, in Faughart. Her mother was a Christian woman, Brocessa, slave to a chieftain Dubthach. She was kind and generous and has many miracles to her name, the most famous being that of the original St. Brigid’s Cross and the one about her cloak covering enough area to claim as a convent in Kildare.  

Long before Christianity there was another Brigit. In Irish Mythology, Brigit was the daughter of the Dagda and one of the Tuatha De Danann, wife of Bres of the Fomorians. She is often seen as a threefold goddess over healing, poetry and smithcraft. (Lebor Gabála Érenn). Many of the stories of the mythological Brigit and the Christian St. Brigid have similarities, the Brigit’s doll became the St. Brigid’s Cross, the Brigit’s mantle became St. Brigid’s Cloak and many of the miracles performed by St. Brigid mirror the powers of the ancient goddess.

What are St. Brigid’s connections to Longford?
The first connection of Brigit to Longford, and not a widely known connection, is Brigit was daughter of the Dagda and so therefore must have been half sister to Midir, son of the Dagda, Midir of the local legend of The wooing of Étáin, Midir of Brí Leith, Ardagh and The Bog Road in Corlea, Kenagh. There must be many stories to be uncovered about this half sister and half brother and hopefully by this time next year we will know more. It is interesting, given our history of poets and writers in Longford, that Brigit is the goddess of the poet.

St. Brigid has strong connections to the county too. By many accounts she came to Ardagh and received the veil at the hands of St. Mel. In some writings she is said to have been professed as a nun, in others she was professed as a nun and also received abbatial powers and in others, my favourite, she was ‘accidentally’ ordained a Bishop by St. Mel.

While it is widely accepted that St. Brigid established her first convent in Kildare there are a number of writings that say otherwise and that her first convent was in Ardagh, Clonbroney or Ballinalee.

The Dúchas school collection have many stories about St. Brigid in Longford. One story in the Dúchas collection talks of her first convent being on the north side of Sliabh Galry, another name for Ardagh Hill and another says that St. Brigid carried coals two miles and her Holy Well in Ardagh sprung up where she dropped them. Another states carrying the hot coals was a penance given to a local woman for disrespecting St. Brigid.

However tentative or true the connections to Longford are we do know that there is a St. Brigid’s Well in Ardagh that is visited every 1st February by the locals, that there are many schools, churches and clubs called after St. Brigid throughout the county and that the tradition of making the St. Brigid’s Day Cross continues locally.

Ann Gerety Smyth, Creative Ardagh, Ardagh Heritage and Creativity Centre, Ardagh, Co. Longford.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Heritage Tours and Workshops available all year

Contact us to arrange your guided tour or heritage workshop for yourself, a group or your school. Click on the links above for more details. Here's a snippet of what we do:

Saturday, 12 January 2019

New walk on Brí Leith


Thanks to Longford Tourism and the Towns and Villages 2017 the walk on Brí Leith, Ardagh Mountain has been upgraded and completed. You can read more about it here.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Contact us to look around or book a group tour


We operate with limited opening hours in December and January. We are there most days at some point for groups or meetings, but if you want to view the heritage exhibition or browse in the craft shop when we are not there give us a call on 086 3027602 or 0861717925 and we'll be there in a few minutes. We both live in the village.
You can also make an appointment in advance, or book any of our group programmes.


Our craft shop stocks a range of cards and handmade gifts from Longford and the surrounding area, so is perfect if you want to shop local this Christmas. You can also buy a few Creative Ardagh items on our online shop here.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Ardagh Fright Fest one week away!


We are delighted to announce the full line-up for Ardagh Fright Fest which runs from the 27th October to 3rd November this year and promises to be more exciting than ever. Thanks as always to the generous support of Longford County Arts Office we are able to bring you some very talented people from around the country for a host of spooktacular events for all ages.

All of your favourites return, such as Ardagh School of Witchcraft and Wizardry which featured on TV3s Six O'Clock Show last year.


We welcome back Jane Gilheaney Barry who has published her novel Cailleach~Witch since we saw her last year. We look forward to her creative writing workshop. Jane will also feature on our author panel with Kevin McManus whose third book in the Ray Logue Mystery series 9 Lives will be out in November. Both authors will share readings from their work and take part in a questions and answers session.

Internationally renowned poet, Adam Wyeth will present The Mythic Imagination full-day creative writing workshop which promises to leave participants with 'a deepened appreciation and awareness of modern literature, myth, tradition and writing craft' as well as some great new work of their own.

Candlelit Tales offer a contemporary reinterpretation of Ireland's ancient lore accompanied by live music score and perform in small venues and large festivals around the country. We are delighted to welcome them to Ardagh with their Shadows of the Táin show which is touring venues across the country including Whelan's of Dublin this month.

Robert Peacock will be dressing up and reading from his newly released book Cara and the Cauldron of the Round Hill at a free family event on 3rd November and we have to thank Mary Carlton Reynolds of Creative Ireland Longford for suggesting we include Gian Castello who will close the festival with an enchanting concert that evening.

Our Frightful Flash Fiction competition returns for the third year and we invite artists of all ages to send us in some Cailleach themed art for display during the week. We look forward to seeing what the TYs of County Longford under the guidance of Shelly Corcoran produce for the Photography Exhibition this year. It is always a highlight of the festival which aims to include work for and from a diverse range of age and experience.

Our popular Spooky Art Camp also returns for one day only on Thursday 1st November from 12pm to 4pm, contact us early to book your place and avoid disappointment.

Tickets for all events are available online or by contacting us on 086 3027602, 086 1717925 or creativeardagh@gmail.com

Monday, 20 August 2018

What a wonderful weekend!

Scéalta Beo - the first storytelling festival in the Midlands
Saturday started at 12pm with John Wilmott and Claire Roche of Bards in the Woods. John told stories of the Dagda, the forming of the landscape and the background to other mythology as well as sharing some of his poems beautifully accompanied by Claire on harp. Gerry Donlon and Kate Corkery had gotten together in London to prepare for the weekend and shared a turn and turn about version of the complete legend of Midir and Etain which kept the crowd enthralled for nearly to hours. After lunch Kate gave a workshop on Bringing Stories to Life and Chris Thompson finished the day session with a very enjoyable presentation on Midir's tasks in the Wooing of Etain, especially the construction of the bog road in Corlea. Unfortunately Isolde Carmody, the other half of Story Archaeology, was unable to attend as she is in hospital, but we got to hear her speak through audio recordings which was great.
The three hour evening concert was fantastic with a mix of music, poetry and stories including a surprise musical performance by Brian Dooley of the Kavanagh Festival in Monaghan who had travelled down especially for the event. Ann Gerety Smyth also delighted the audience with a story. Kate Corkery, Gerry Donlon, John Wilmott and Chris Thompson took turns to excite and delight with tales of Moytura, Brig, the Dagda, and many more while we could have listened to Claire Roche on the harp for hours. 











Thursday, 2 August 2018

Scéalta Beo schedule

Its getting close now! Gerry of Bards Aloud called in today and did a radio interview with Annette on Athlone Community Radio. Excitement is building. Tickets are still available on the Scéalta Beo website, get them before they are all gone!
Schedule of events below: