The Journal of the CountyKildare Archaeological Society (J.K.A.S.) Vol. I, (Dublin, 1891-1895), p. 40.
Notes and Queries.
The Breedoge? Can anyone inform me if the old custom of carrying round 'The Breedoge' on St. Bridget's Eve or Day (the 1st of February) is still kept up? Formerly, I am told, a figure was dressed up to represent the patron saint of Kildare, St. Bridget. This figure was called 'The Breedoge' (Bride Oge), or 'Young Bridget,' and carried round by the young people from house to house asking for coppers, in the same way as the wren on a holly hush is carried round on St. Stephen's Day. The result of the day's round was spent in a jollification. I believe this was a local custom peculiar to the neighbourhood of Kildare. WALTER FITZ GERALD.
J.K.A.S. Vol. I, pp. 151-152.
Replies to Queries.
'The Breedoge' (JOURNAL, No. 1, p. 40). In answer to my query in the County Kildare Archaeological Journal, as to whether the custom of carrying round the Breedoge was a local one or not, Ireceived a communication from Dr. P. W. Joyce, M.R.I.A., of the Educational Department, in which he says he made inquiries among the pupils concerning it, with the result that he got written descriptions of it in the counties of Kilkenny, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, and Mayo, so that the custom is very general over Ireland. I have given below two or three descriptions of this custom, which Ihave selected from several sent to me by Dr. Joyce:
One from the Co. Mayo. The children dress up a figure, and decorate it with ribbons and flowers. Then four or more of them carry it from house to house on St. Bridget's Day, and ask the housewife to 'honour the Breedoge.' One of the girls hums a tune, and the others dance. It is thought a very niggardly thing to refuse to honour the effigy. Eggs are taken where the housekeeper has no coppers to give. There is a spokeswoman for the party, who has a short made-up speech that she delivers at every house. The money and eggs collected are evenly divided between the girls, who purchase sweets and cakes with the proceeds. The girls usually choose the day for their rounds; then, at night, the boys go round with what is called 'The Cross.' This is a cross made of two ropes; a boy catches an end each, and then the four boys dance away to the music of a flute; like the girls they, too, gather contributions from each house they visit, and spend the result in a jollification.
Another from the Co. Kerry. The Breedhogue is an image, supposed to be St Bridget. It consists of a churn-dash, or broomstick, padded round with straw, and covered with a woman?s dress, the head being formed of a bundle of hay, rolled into the form of a ball; the hands are formed of furze branches, stuck up in the sleeves. This figure is carried round from house to house by boys and girls on St Bridget's Eve. One boy starts a tune, and the others commence dancing, after which they are given pennies, or more generally eggs, in honour of the 'Biddy.' No matter what the weather is, the Breedhogue is annually carried round, though since moonlighting commenced in Kerry it had to be discontinued for some time, owing to the fear of being mistaken for members of that band.
A Co. Cork description. In some parts of the county the boys dress up a female figure in a white dress with gaudy ribbons, which they call 'a Breedhoge.' They are generally themselves queerly dressed and disguised. On St. Bridget's Eve they visit from house to house in the parish, particularly those houses where there are young women who, they say, should get married during Shrove time. If they are welcomed, and given money for a spree, then they will praise up and recommend the girls to their male friends; but if not, they will warn them to avoid them. WALTER FITZ GERALD.
The practice alluded to by Lord Walter Fitz Gerald at p.40 exists in several parts of Ireland. It is probably a remnant of the procession in honour of St Brigid, when her statue would be carried about. The rude figure, if we can call it such, goes by the name of Breedog, i.e. brigid óig, Brigid the Virgin. D. M.
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