It is the weekend before our inaugural public holiday in honour of St Brigid, goddess and saint.
With many people paying their respects to St Brigid on her feast day, 1 February each year, this new public holiday will be more of a moveable feast.
This year taking place on Monday 6 February, in the future it is likely to take place on a Friday in the event of Lá Fhéile Bríde [1 February] occurring on that day.
Traditionally, these holidays were celebrated on the eve of the day itself as a result of the belief of being as close to the other world as possible.
Depending on where in the country you are based, many traditions are associated with this time of year that bids goodbye to the darkness of winter and welcomes in the light of spring.
Most importantly for rural dwellers, Brigid was called upon to provide protection and blessings for the family, the home, the crops and animals.
Making of the St Brigid crosses is an activity that I did in national school, but honestly never fully got the hang of!
Seeking out good-quality rushes that were long enough to make a decent cross was more appealing to me.
Cycling down the road to ask neighbours if we could go in their fields to pick rushes, even with icy cold finger tips, didn’t dampen our spirits!
These days I am no longer cycling around the roads collecting rushes. I gladly hung up a new St Brigid’s cross in my kitchen that my mother made this week.
Instead, I am hoping to pop along to some of the events taking place around the country to celebrate Brigid. The holiday may not be until next weekend, but here are a few events taking place over the coming days.
On Sunday 29 January, Brigid’s Garden in Rosscahill, Co Galway, will host a Zoom event from 7pm to 9pm. The evening will include stories of Brigid, the symbols of Brigid’s cross, Brigid’s cloak and sacred fire, and their relevance to us today.
They will share songs and a guided meditation, as well as offering intentions and making a collective Brigid’s cross.
Weather-permitting, it will finish with a live fire from Brigid’s Garden.
After the main celebration ends at 9pm, the Zoom room will be kept open informally for sharing poems, stories and reflections around the fire.
Aiming to make the event as interactive as possible, the evening is brought to you by Caroline McFadden, Jacinta Corbett and Jenny Beale.
All proceeds support Brigid’s Garden as a resource for the community. Standard contribution €15; to book log on to https://brigitsgarden.ie/.
Open mic night
On Monday 30 January, an open mic night takes place in the Seanchaí book shop, Kildare town, from 7pm.
This is a collaboration between the bookshop and Kildare town library in celebration of local poets, writers and artists who find inspiration in the symbols, customs and folklore surrounding Brigid.
No booking is required but arrive early to Seanchaí Book Shop, Claregate Street, Kildare Town R51 PA40.
On Tuesday evening 31 January at 10.15pm, RTÉ1 airs ‘Finding Brigid’ with Siobhán McSweeney [Sr Michael, Derry Girls] and Dr Niamh Wycherley.
Siobhán ponders the question, “in an increasingly secular and diverse Ireland, Brigid's popularity appears to be on the rise?" Guests include Mary Kennedy who grew up by St Brigid’s Well in Clondalkin, Herstory activist Melanie Lynch and former President Mary McAleese.