Jonathan & Denise >
The Oystercatcher is a wading bird that forages on the shore and on marshy ground nearby, feeding on invertebrates. The English language name belies the fact that it does not dive to the sea bed to retrieve oysters. It’s a bird with solitary habits : if you see a lot of them together, it’s a sign that there’s a lot of food available.
The Scots Gaelic name for this bird comes with an interesting story attached ; and like all the best stories, there’s a grain of truth.
It’s said by some that the word ‘Hebrides’ is actually a corruption of ancient norse-irish for the islands of Bride – meaning Saint Bride, also known as St Bridget, St Brigid, St Birgid and a few other minro variants. It’s an historical fact that the woman who came to be canonized as Saint Bride was born in Dundalk in AD450, the daughter of the King of Leinster in Ireland, who was pagan, and a christian mother. She was a student of St Patrick, who inspired her to found the first monastary in Kildare, and to spread the word of god. In time, she set sail to the Hebrides (which at that time were politically and culturally close to Ireland, not Scotland – which did not yet exist) on a mission to convert the people of these islands to christianity.
Legend has it that she landed in South Uist on the beach right by our walled garden, where a chapel was founded and dedicated to her name – Cille Bhrìghde, the chapel of Bride ; and indeed Cille Bhrìghde is the Gaelic name for our crofting township. The story goes that she stepped ashore, ceremoniously, with an oystercatcher perched on each wrist.
In gaelic, oystercatchers are called ‘Gille Bhrìghde’ – which translates as ‘Servants of Bride’. They would certainly make hard-working servants, as they seem to be always dashing about doing things.
J > That said, this couple were just chilling out on the rocks at the shore of our croft, as I watched them from work on the roof of the new shed. But as soon as I got my camera out …