Ireland Celebrates Brigid

Christian saint or pagan goddess, Brigid, the female patron of Ireland, is celebrated today, 1st February - the first day of spring, and until the new public holiday on Monday next (5th February).

While its international significance is a long way behind that of Patrick, this new national festival is gaining momentum, with a strong emphasis on the role of women in society. It also occurs close to the ancient festival of Imbolc, which is also celebrated in many parts of Ireland.

Brigid is one of Ireland’s three patron saints, along with Patrick and Colmcille. From Louth and based in Kildare, St Brigid  was accomplished and multi-talented. She was born around AD 450 and had a long, productive and eventful life. This year marks the 1,500th anniversary of her death.

She set up monasteries around Ireland, of which Kildare, where Abbess, she managed monastery farms and thousands of nuns. She was an ordained bishop and a master brewer of ale.

From today and into the long weekend, events are lined up to celebrate Brigid and Imbolc.

Kildare is organising “Brigid 1500”,  a wide-ranging programme with the main objective of creating a meaningful cultural and societal legacy that resonates with a diverse, contemporary audience. It includes exhibitions, workshops for children, food symposia, a launch of the “Book of Kildare”, concerts, film screenings and a Herstory Light Show with entertainment across Co Kildare, featuring Una Healy, Denise Chaila, Imelda May, Darina Allen, Jess Murphy, Laura Whitmore and Riverdance.

Brigit: Dublin City Celebrating Women” is the third year of citywide celebrations for Imbolc and the Celtic goddess, aiming to shine a light on Brigid’s legacy and the way in which contemporary women embody her spirit, with more than 60 thematic events across the city. A parade on February 5th will start at Wolfe Tone Square with a mix of walkers, roller skaters and performers going through Henry Street and finishing at the GPO on O’Connell Street.

DLR libraries across Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown are running St Brigid’s cross-making workshops for families, children, adults and schools. In DLR Lexicon at the Studio Theatre on February 1st, local active retirement groups are invited to celebrate Imbolc/St Brigid’s Day with traditional Irish music, dance and crafts.

Irish Museum of Modern Art is offering “Ireland, Feminism, Art”, partnering with “Feminist Art Making Histories” to present an event where national and international guests come together to discuss feminist art-making histories, with a special focus on the pioneering work of the Women Artists Action Group (WAAG), 1987-1991.

Richmond Barracks is celebrating all things Brigid, particularly the impact of women in business, products that empower women and girls, and supporting enterprises with a strong focus on women.

Other events are planned for Armagh, Carlow, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Derry, Donegal (Feile na mBan), Galway (Brigid’s Garden), Killarney (Fashion Show), Kilkenny (Music and Arts Festival), Portarlington (“Bríd Faoin Spéir”), Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim (Basket Weaving), Lough Gur, Co. Limerick (Imbolc Goddess Circle), Louth (Brigid of Faughart: A celebration of Brigid as goddess), Trim, Co. Meath (Women’s Circle), and Charleville Castle, Tullamore (The Hunt for Brigid). The National Famine Museum, Hamilton Gallery Sligo, is hosting an exhibition of new works by artist Yoko Akino, who designed the new stamp for the Irish Postal Service, commemorating St Brigid on her 1500th anniversary. Johnstown Castle, Wexford has a day with storyteller, forager and food folklorist Lorraine O’Dwyer.