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2021 photo of the image of St Brigid projected on St Brigid's Cathedral, Kildare, as part of an event to mark the saint's day. PA
st brigid's day

Brigid, Bridget and Bríd: how popular is the saint's name in modern Ireland?

Ahead of the first St Brigid’s Day bank holiday, the CSO has revealed how the name’s popularity has waned in recent years.

LAST UPDATE | 30 Jan 2023

NEXT MONDAY IRELAND will mark its first St Brigid’s Day Bank Holiday.

It will also be the first public holiday in Ireland to be named after a woman.

But just how popular is the saint’s name in modern Ireland?

Ahead of the St Brigid’s Day Bank Holiday on 6 February, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) has traced the name’s popularity, as well as some of its variations.

Brigid

The CSO has data on baby names stretching back to the early 1960s.

The number of girls named Brigid reached its peak in 1965, when 293 children were given the name.

Brigid was also the twenty-sixth most popular name for girls in 1965.

Although its popularity started to wane, there were more than 100 instances of the name each year until 1972, when 126 girls were called Brigid.

The name also remained in the top 100 most popular girls’ names until 1975.

Its next highest peak after the 70s was in 1995, when 62 girls were called Brigid.

The following year in 1996, only 28 girls were so named.

Then from 1999 on, fewer than eight babies were given the name Brigid in any year except for 2006, when 10 such names were registered.

Meanwhile, there were fewer than three babies called Brigid from 2014 to 2017.

Due to confidentiality reasons, a name must be recorded three or more times to be included in CSO Irish Babies’ Names data, so no exact figures for those years can be published.

Between 2018 and 2020, 11 girls were called Brigid, but there were fewer than three in 2021.

Bridget and other variations

However, the CSO notes that there are several variations of the spelling of the name, with the most popular being Bridget.

In 2020, 23 girls were named Bridget, and in 2021, that figure was 20.

The number of girls named Bridget reached a peak of 595 in 1964, when the CSO first collected such data and was the eighth most popular name for girls that year.

Bridget only dropped out of the top 100 most popular girls’ names in 1998.

Meanwhile, the use of the name Brid reached a peak in 1980 when 58 girls were so named and steadily declined until 2017, when five girls were registered with this name.

There are no records of the use of the name since.

However, the CSO has started to record the use of the síneadh fada in Irish names in 2018, and in that year eight girls were called Bríd.

There were fewer than three babies called Bríd in 2020, but six girls were given this name in 2021.

Between 1967 and 1971, 23 girls were named Bridgid and the name features once more on the list in 1980, when three girls were given this name.

Elsewhere, the highest use of Brighid on record is in 1964 when six girls were given this name. 

But since 1982, there has been no year where three or more girls have been named Brighid.

Cultural programme 

The Department of Culture has today announced a programme of cultural events taking place in recognition of the first Bank Holiday for St Brigid’s Day. 

There will be exhibitions at IMMA and the National Museum celebrating the work of seminal Irish women artists and political pioneers. 

IMMA will open Irish Gothic, a major retrospective by renowned Irish atrist Patricia Hurl. This marks the first in a series of solo exhibitions at IMMA that will focus on Irish and international women artists throughout the year. 

The National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, will also present Bonnets, Bandoliers and Ballot Papers, which offers an insight into the changing role of women during the transformational first decades of the 20th century through the lens of artefacts in the collection. 

There will be a range of community based events organised by the local authorities as part of their Cculture and creativity strategies under Creative Ireland in Galway, Kerry, Louth, Offaly, Roscommon, Tipperary and Kildare.

Herstory Light Show is leading festivities by illuminating a number of local landmarks with art of Brigid and Irish goddesses across several locations in Ireland.

A giant Sliabh na mBan Cloak prepared by local women will be unveiled in Tipperary while Kildare County Council has planned a programme of events celebrating its unique links with St Brigid.

Elsewhere, Herself – a large scale public ‘projection project’ – will take place in Galway on 4 February.

In collaboration with local community groups, artists Shona MacGillivray and Jill Beardsworth have identified women whose lives and work embody the qualities that Brigid is known for.

Individual moving portraits of each woman have been filmed and layered with visuals representing their ‘Brigid’ qualities.

With reporting by Hayley Halpin

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