The first public holiday of the year has arrived. With many community groups preparing for this weekend for weeks, if not months, we take a look at what events are happening this weekend to celebrate Brigid.
Kildare is synonymous with St Brigid and Kildare town in particular. It is here she devoted her working life; founding her convent and monastery and here that she was first laid to rest.
With the weight of that legacy, Kildare County Council has curated the ‘Brigid 1500’ programme, which aims to celebrate and commemorate St Brigid the woman, the life and the legacy.
Brigid 1500 refers to next year, when 2024 will be the 1,500th anniversary of the death of St Brigid. It is fair to say that this year will set the scene for 12 months’ time.
What she stood for
‘Brigid 1500’ engages the values St Brigid championed including faith and spirituality, biodiversity and sustainability, arts and culture, social justice, peace, hospitality and education.
Already, local national schools have planted native trees to honour St Brigid, creating learning opportunities and enhancing the biodiversity and beauty of the school grounds for years to come.
Other highlights include a fire and light walk, which departs from Kildare town square at 6pm on Saturday 4 February.
Expect a feast of lanterns to light up the square and join the procession to a fiery finale.
If you are thinking of heading along to this event, you are asked to dress for the weather and be aware that a traffic management system will be in place.
On Sunday 5 February, St Brigid’s Cathedral in Kildare town welcomes soprano Eimear Quinn to perform ‘A Concert for Brigid’.
Eimear will perform her new song dedicated to Brigid, 'The Mouth of Winter Dead', which she wrote together with renowned songwriter Brendan Graham.
While tickets for this event are now sold out, you can watch live online by visiting the website www.brigid1500.ie. Concert begins at 7pm.
On Monday, St Brigid’s camino walk will depart St Brigid’s shrine at Mountrice on the Monasterevin to Rathangan Road (R414) at 11am (Eircode W34 X529).
The walk is approximately 6km and will be led by Bishop Denis Nulty. Upon finishing at St Peter and Paul’s Church, Monasterevin, there will be a service of light at 12.30pm.
While these are the highlights, there will be library events, walks and more happening.
In Tipperary, Austrian textile artist Theresa Guschlbauer has collaborated with over 80 Tipperary women and girls of all backgrounds to create a giant cloak, which will be unveiled in Clonmel on Sunday 5 February.
Inspired by the story of Brigid laying her cloak over the fields of Kildare, which secured enough land to build her monastery, the 2023 version of Brigid’s cloak will be unveiled in Clonmel by stilt-walking artist Dee Tierney on Sunday evening, surrounded - just as Brigid was - by her supporters.
This lantern-lit procession, beginning at 5pm, will make its way through the town centre, stopping at the historic Town Hall building in Parnell Street where spoken word artist Catherine McVicker and singer Breege Phelan will perform an invocation to the goddess Brigid.
This will be followed by the presentation to Clonmel mayor Pat English of a Brigid’s cross, to be hung in the municipal building for the coming year to bring prosperity, health and wellbeing to the citizens of the town.