Friday, April 30, 2010

Brigit's Garden

Experience the Magic of Celtic Heritage at Brigit's Garden in the West of Ireland

Our Vision is to offer Brigit's Garden as a place of connection with nature, beauty and the cylces of life, and as a resource for education, reflection and creativity.

Brigit's Garden takes you on a magical journey through the sacred spiral of the seasons into the heart of Celtic heritage and mythology, making it one of the truly outstanding attractions in Galway.

Themed on the Celtic seasonal festivals, Brigit's Garden is widely regarded as one of the most spectacular gardens in Ireland set within 11 acres of native woodland & wildflower meadows. Its features include: a nature trail , ogham trees, children's discovery trail, living willow play area, an ancient ring fort (fairy fort), Roundhouse and calendar sundial , the largest in Ireland.

The Garden Café offers excellent cuisine with many vegetarian options made with organic ingredients fresh from the gardens whenever possible.

We offer a full calendar of family-friendly activities throughout the year, making Brigit's Garden one of leading family attractions in the region. Our summer camps for kids are among the most popular in Galway.

Our high-standard facilities and tranquil surroundings make Brigit’s Garden the ideal venue for hire for off-site meetings, weddings and special events. We cater to groups of all kinds, including sacred site tours and school tour groups.

A visit to Brigit's Garden offers an experience that will last a lifetime!

This Holiday weekend music & funTraditional musicians playing in the sunshine at Brigit's Garden, Galway, Ireland

►Sunday May 2nd from 2pm
Michael Folan (accordion) & friends

►Monday May 3rd from 2pm
Paul Bradley (fiddle) and Paddy Kerr (bouzouki)

Plus...Fun for kids! Pond-dipping for water bugs both days. Café will be open.

There's a lot see and do to this summer at Brigit's Garden Click here for more details!

A Woman for Our Times: St. Brigid of Ireland

I found this article at

Brigid of Kildare is a patroness of those who have a care for the earth, for justice and equality, for peace and she is a model for a contemplative life. Brigidine sister Rita Minehan profiles her here.

A great resurgence of interest in all aspects of our Celtic heritage is leading many individuals and groups to rediscover - and draw inspiration from - the lives of the early Irish saints. St Brigid, the patroness of Ireland, is emerging as one whose life has relevance and inspiration for us as we try to face the issues that confront our country and our world at this time. When we look at the life of Brigid and at some of these issues we can see more clearly why she continues to be relevant to us today.

Carer of the earth
The feast of St Brigid on the first of February is a celebration of the wonderful springing back of the earth from its winter sleep. It is the season when we celebrate new beginnings and new life on earth. The sod is turned. The day lengthens. Seeds are sown and sails are hoisted.

Many of the stories about Brigid tell of her milking the cows, churning the milk, making up the firkins of butter, shepherding her flocks of sheep, helping with the harvest and even brewing the ale!

Brigid, in keeping with her Celtic traditions, was wonderfully attuned to the seasons and cycles of nature. She valued the elements of nature: earth, air, fire and water.

Light the fire
Today, we are becoming more aware of the fragility of our planet. Lands are becoming barren, skies fouled, waters poisoned. Many individuals and groups concerned about the environment draw inspiration from the reverence and respect which Brigid had for the land. She is often referred to as the Saint of Agriculture.

In a new hymn, composed by Fr Liam Lawton, Brigid is invoked 'to heal our wounds and green our earth again.'

'A Life of Brigid' (Vita Brigitae), composed by Cogitosus about 650 AD, places great emphasis on Brigid's faith, her healing powers, her hospitality, her generosity, her great skill with animals, and her compassion for the poor and the oppressed. Twenty three of the thirty two chapters tell of her extraordinary concern for the poor. One of the Brigidine legends illustrates this very effectively.

Woman of compassion
One day when Brigid was on a long journey she stopped to rest by the wayside. A rich lady heard about this and brought her a beautiful basket of choice apples. No sooner had she received them than a group of very poor people came by and begged her for food. Without a moment's hesitation, Brigid gave them the choice apples. The rich lady was utterly disgusted and she complained to Brigid, 'I brought those apples for you, not for them.' Brigid's reply was: 'What is mine is theirs.'

This Brigidine legend poses a challenge to all of us in terms of our world today, where forty-five thousand people die from hunger and hunger-related diseases every day and where twenty percent of the population own and consume about eighty percent of the earth's resources.

The poverty gap continues to widen both within and between countries, as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer. This legend challenges us to work for a more equitable distribution of the world's resources.

Model of equality
It is generally accepted that Brigid established her abbey and church in Kildare around 480 AD, on the site now occupied by St Brigid's Cathedral. Brigid held a unique position in the Irish Church and society of her day. As Abbess, she presided over the local Church of Kildare and was leader of a double monastery for men and women.

Tradition suggests that she invited Conleth, a hermit from Old Connell near Newbridge, to assist her in Kildare. Cogitosus tells us that 'they governed their Church by means of a mutually happy alliance.'

What emerges from many of these stories and legends about Brigid is the portrait of a strong and gentle woman, a powerful leader, a good organiser, a skilful healer and a wise spiritual guide. Brigid has become - for men as well as women - a potent symbol of Christian womanhood, showing us in so many different ways the feminine face of God.

Woman of peace
There was no lack of domestic strife in the Ireland of Brigid's day, where feuds between clans were commonplace. She is often depicted as a peacemaker who intervened in disputes between rival factions and brought healing and reconciliation. Folklorists tell us that in some parts of Ireland a St Brigid's cross was often used as a token of goodwill between neighbours, indicating a desire for peace and friendship after a local quarrel.

One of the best-known stories associated with St Brigid is that of her giving away her father's precious sword to a poor man so that he could barter it for food to feed his family. Thus, a sword, a weapon of war, was transformed into a life-giving instrument.

This story offers an important lesson for our world today where every minute thirteen million pounds is being spent on weapons of war.

One wonders what links Brigid would make today between the massive expenditure on arms and the welfare of the poor people of the world?

Woman of contemplation
Brigid emerges as a woman of action in the stories, legends and poems about her. If one, however, were to seek the source from which she drew her strength and energy, one could probably find the answer in this story.

One day, Saint Brendan the Navigator stood on a cliff top and watched two whales engaging in fierce combat.

Suddenly, the smaller whale, in a human voice, cried out for help not to Brendan but to Brigid, who was not even present. The cry was answered immediately, and the combat ceased.

Brendan was puzzled as to why he had been ignored. 'Do you always think about God?' asked Brigid, when the two met. 'Yes,' replied Brendan, 'except at times when my boat is caught in a storm at sea and I have to concentrate on keeping it afloat.'

'That's the explanation,' Brigid answered. 'From the moment I first knew God I have never let him out of my mind, and I never shall.'

An old Irish poem, written in the seventh century, speaks of her contemplation of the Trinity:

Deeper than the seas,
Greater than words can express,
Three persons in one only God;
Overflowing with wonder

Woman of inspiration
Even today, poets, writers and artists still find inspiration in the symbols, customs and folklore surrounding Brigid.

One writer recently referred to her as 'the woman who, above all others, embodies the spirit of pre-Christian and Christian Ireland'.

In a beautiful leadlight window in Kildare College Chapel, Holden Hill, South Australia (see image) the artist depicts Brigid dancing the dance of the new life of creation, carrying the Spirit of Jesus into the twenty-first century.

Many of the values associated with Brigid are captured in this delightful poem:

Lady, from winters dark,
Star of Imbolc, rise!
Dance around our threshold,
Scattering warm laughter,
Seeds of hospitality,
Tolerance, forgiveness!
Return again to the folk;
You the spring we yearn for!

What a lovely image to carry with us into the future!

This article first appeared in The Messenger (February 2002), a publication of the Irish Jesuits.

Monday, April 26, 2010

NeoDruid Clann mothered by Brigit: Tuatha De Brighid

Tuatha De Brighid - The People of the Goddess Brighid - is a Clann of modern Druids who are honored to call Brighid our Matron and Guide. We are both a community and a spiritual tradition. Our Tradition is inspired by ancient and modern paths as we seek to transcend differences and find common ground personified in the timeless Spirit of Druidry.

Like a tapestry, we strive to create a beauty uniquely our own out of many threads, without losing the individual identity of those threads. Brighid, who is both a Goddess of the Pagan Celts and a Saint of the Christians, is a fitting Matron for this endeavor, and so we are Her Folk. We honor all life, all love, and all wisdom, and we welcome all earnest seekers.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Brigit's Park in Dublin Urgent Support Requested

The Institute for Feminism and Religion sent out this notice:

Dublin City Council is proposing renaming Merrion Square in the centre of Dublin. Currently it is called Archbishop Ryan Park, a name that has never "caught on". 

The deadline for submissions is Friday April 23rd.

A campaign has been launched by several to rename it Brigit's Park, after Brigit -- goddess, saint, poet, healer, smithworker, pagan.

Below is the official announcement from Dublin City Council and also a copy of a letter that Mary Condren wrote to the Irish Times in support of that proposal.

To date NO submissions have been received by DCC in support of the "Brigit" proposal, and no significant parks in Ireland are named after women.

Please take a minute to respond to this call, and to circulate the information among your contacts and friends. Support is welcome from all over the world, not only from within Ireland. You can write to this address:

parks@dublincity. ie


Invitation for submissions and/or suggestions on possible renaming of Archbishop Ryan Park

Dublin City Council invites submissions and/or suggestions from members of the public and interested parties on the possible renaming of Archbishop Ryan Park, Merrion Square, Dublin 2.

Those sending submissions/ suggestions on the issue should state:

· If they favour renaming Archbishop Ryan Park

· If in favour, the suggested name

If including reasons for a suggested new name please restrict this to a maximum of 300 words.

Submissions/ suggestions can be made in writing or by email to:

Executive Manager, Dublin City Council, Parks and Landscape Services; Culture, Recreation & Amenity Department, Ground Floor, Block 4, Civic Offices, Wood Quay, Dublin 8, Email: parks@dublincity. ie

The closing date for receipt of submissions/ suggestions is: 17.00hrs on 23rd April, 2010.

On 12/02/2010 19:15, Mary Condren wrote to the Irish Times :


Dear Madam,

I write in support of the proposal to rename Merrion Square after Brigit (the Old Irish spelling!).
Brigit is non-denominational, pagan, pre-Reformation Christian, and post-Christian. Matronness of poetry, healing and smithwork, she symbolises an Old European tradition of female empowerment and her traditions cultivate a dialectic between the sexes, so badly lacking in the recent centuries of Christian history.

Renaming a city centre park (perhaps Brigit's Garden?) would begin the process of reclaiming a much neglected facet of our common heritage and signal the potential for a new cultural and spiritual awakening that draws on the past but looks toward the future in a spirit of poetry, healing, and cultivating inner fires of integrity and justice.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gossamer Axe: Fantasy Fiction by Gael Baudino

I've been noodling around reading a lot of books that I missed over the years; not reading a whole lot that is brand new. 

This one took me by surprise. I've been passing over it on my friend's speculative fiction shelves for years now, then for some reason picked it up the other day and got hooked a couple of chapters in. I include it here because to my delight, the main character is a follower of the goddess Brigit. Brigit herself doesn't appear in the book, but it is lovely to have our hero talking about and to her now and then.

Gossamer Axe
Gael Baudino
Roc (1990), Paperback, 352 pages

Christa is a bisexual woman who escaped from the Celtic Otherworld 200 years ago, and is still trying to figure out how to free her inamorata from that unchanging, sterile place. She puts aside her harp and picks up an electric guitar to achieve her aims.

Certain elements are predictable: the antagonists, particularly, are uninspired. But the way Baudino handles the musical aspects, the world of rock and how it is for women, magic, cultural distress (for Christa), community and friendship--it's textured, fascinating, very well done.

As for authenticity (for the ancient Celtic part), she gets a lot right. My main complaint is that the Celts didn't celebrate the solstices and equinoxes as she has them do--Christa really is more modern Wiccan than ancient Celt in some ways--but regardless, the book holds together nicely. It is what it is.

A very pleasant surprise.

If you like this book, you may also enjoy Mildred Downey Broxon's ancient/modern Celtic fantasy: Too Long a Sacrifice (Orbit Books) 1983. 

Weird. Blogger will let me link to Broxon but not Baudino. Ah, well. You know how to Search.