The heralder of Irish springtime and the Patron Saint of nature, healing and creativity, celebrations have taken place across Ireland today, marking the 1500th anniversary of her passing.
Who was St. Brigid? Believed to have lived during the 5th century, legends about St. Brigid’s life are full of tales of her compassion, creativity and healing miracles. As a Celtic goddess of fire and fertility, she also came to represent the rebirth of nature and the colour and vibrance of Ireland in springtime, as well as becoming a figurehead for strong and creative Irish women.
The Monday following St. Brigid’s feast day on the 1st of February was declared a new annual public holiday in 2023, the first woman in Ireland to be recognised with one. St. Brigid’s Day also marks the beginning of spring in the Irish calendar. Known as ‘Imbolc’, it is one of the four key festivals in the Celtic calendar and falls between the shortest day and the spring equinox and was a time when people look forward to a good growing year ahead.
Nowhere is St. Brigid’s legacy felt more so than in the Counties Louth and Kildare in Ireland’s Ancient East. In Brigid’s birthplace of Louth, the annual Brigid of Faughart Festival illuminated Dundalk with a multisensory light show called Northern Lights. Designed by Irish artist Friz the light show complements her mural of the Saint which resides permanently in the town of Dundalk.
Whilst over in Kildare, where Brigid spent most of her life and founded a Cathedral, the Brigid1500 Festival has been hosting a series of events including concerts with trailblazing female Irish musicians Una Healy, Denise Chaila, Imelda May, Gemma Hayes and more. Two grand fiery processional events to celebrate St Brigid will also take place in the towns of Maynooth and Kildare over the bank holiday weekend.
Across the country too people are celebrating by crafting iconic St. Brigid’s Crosses, a tradition that has travelled throughout the world, as well as taking part in processions featuring light and fire.
Springtime in Ireland is a time to fill your heart – full of promise, new life, rolling green grass, explosions of yellow daffodils and fields of lambs across the country; not to mention the longer days ending in colourful sunsets.