It is worth noodling back now and again to websites you think you know. I was surprised a while back to learn that Solas Bhríde is planning a grand development. In response to the great influx of pilgrims over the last few years, a centre with hermitages will be created on land purchased in 2007, costing a projected €4.75 million. (Follow the above link for a quick computer-graphic tour of the proposed facility.)
It will have:
• Reception and exhibition space
• Conference room
• Four self-catering hermitages
• Spirituality education and library area
• Hospitality room
• Chapel / prayer room
• Spiritual accompanying / counselling room
• Meeting room
• Residential facilities for two staff members
• Ancillary service and utility spaces
"The Hermitages will provide an opportunity for pilgrims to stay and experience solitude and quiet in a nurturing atmosphere.
"The design of the Centre is inspired by the evocative imagery of Brigid’s legacy and legends and is centred on ecological concerns. The Centre and gardens will be integrated into a natural landscape with a meditative garden, labyrinth and cosmic walk.
"The many thousands of pilgrims and visitors who come to Kildare and experience the rituals and celebrations at St Brigid’s Wells will be further enriched by the new landscape and its meditative and uplifting features."
I have to admit that, although I'm sure it will be very valuable, it sounds a bit overwhelming in comparison to the small house and welcoming attention of the two individuals I met there years ago. The experience would be a very different one indeed. On the other hand, it promises to give back to the sisters some of the privacy and solitude needed for a life of prayer, as opposed to a life of tour-guiding. : )
The sisters had hoped to turn the sod this past Imbolc, but insufficient funds held them back. Not for long though. They plan to sign the contract and turn the sod by the beginning of summer.
Best of luck to the sisters and the many Brigidines who are working on this project. I hope one day to visit the new centre, which though different will no doubt be wonderful.