The legend of the veiled one
Who was the Cailleach Bheara? She appears as a mysterious and shadowy figure hovering around the edges of Irish folklore and myth, yet very little is known about her.
The word cailleach has come to mean ‘hag’, or ‘crone’, yet in Old Gaelic it actually means ‘veiled one’. This conjures up images of early Medieval Christian nuns, yet it is possible that the word has more ancient origins and could refer to the wise-women or female Druids of pre-Christian and maybe even pre-Celtic times.
The legend of the cailleach can be found not only in Ireland, but in Scotland and the Isle of Man, too. She is associated with Winter, and the creation of the landscape.
In Scotland, it is said that if St Brigid’s day (1st February) dawns clear and bright, it is because the Cailleach is out collecting firewood to keep…
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