Skip to content

St Brigid's Crosses

Interlaced cross (NMI Collection F:1942.292 (A))

The making of St Brigid’s crosses on the 31st of January is still popular in many Irish homes. 

The most recognisable cross is the four-armed cross, popularised since 1961 by its use as an emblem for Irish television.

Regional styles and variations of St Brigid’s crosses existed throughout Ireland and often many styles were made in each home.

Traditional designs were diamond, interlaced, or wheel-shaped, and could have two, three, or four arms. The simplest ones consisted of two strips of wood or straw plaits tied together to form a cross. 

Straw, rushes, and reeds were most common, but grass, hay, wood, goose quills, wire and fabric were also used to form crosses.

Whatever the chosen material, it was sprinkled with holy water beforehand and a prayer to welcome the saint into the home was often recited. 

Crosses were hung up in homes and animal sheds so as to invoke St Brigid’s blessing.

Sign up to our newsletter

Keep up to date

Receive updates on the latest exhibitions