Always overlooked at this time of year is St. Sheelagh’s Day – March 18th. St. Patrick always steals the show. Shame on us for the neglect as she is an important figure in our pre-history and folklore. Interestingly, St. Sheelagh is alleged to be St. Patrick’s better half and may well have been associated with the pre-Christian Sheela Na Gig, a goddess of fertility. While she is not much celebrated these days St. Sheelagh was very much in vogue for centuries before the Great Famine and the 18th March was traditionally a day when the all the ladies of the land had the craic and a few scoops. It might be nice to re-establish the tradition. And in the midst of these troubled times there may be a very good reason to laud her in future years. We shall come back to that point.
Sheelah, in her old age (she allegedly lived to the age 105) became the embodiment of the important Irish folk figure known as the Cailleach, a loathsome old hag. Irish mythology and folklore cast her as the queen of territorial and tribal sovereignty and as the life force of nature, nurturing and maternal – but, also terrifying and destructive. Interestingly, when the cailleach finds her rightful king and copulates with him, she transforms into her rightful form, a goddess of great beauty.
Should she be our patron saint of Covid-19? Terrifying and destructive yet the embodiment of fertility and the maternal instinct and in addition, being the queen of territorial sovereignty, she has all the qualities of the Coronavirus crisis and its necessary isolationist management. And when we ride out the crisis our country will return to its rightful form as a place of beauty and splendor. That is the essence St. Sheelagh. In previous centuries our forebears honoured March 18th with lusty celebrations having womanhood, fertility and renewal as the central themes. She is ideal as a symbol bearer for better times in future.
So we propose St. Sheelagh as The Patron Saint of Covid-19 recovery. Do you agree?