Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Celebrating La Fhéile Bríde / Imbolc 2023 - Festivals!!!




I THINK IT WAS LAST YEAR when I finally accepted that I just didn’t have the time or energy to chase down every online notice of something happening in celebration of Brigit around Imbolc time. This year the activity has grown still more, for several reasons.




First, from the perspective of the general, news-listening/reading public, is the fact that 1 February 2023 has been declared Ireland’s first bank holiday in honour of a woman. There was talk that it might just be for one year, but it was eventually decided (perhaps due to overwhelming enthusiasm for the idea) to declare it a permanent addition to the calendar.


For those of us who don’t know what a BANK HOLIDAY is, the following is helpful.


From Citizens Information:


There are 10 public holidays in Ireland each year (increased from 9 in 2022).


Public holidays may commemorate a special day or other event, for example, Saint Patrick's Day (17 March) or Christmas Day (25 December).


From 2023, there is a new annual public holiday in early February to mark St Brigid’s Day. The public holiday is the first Monday in February, except where St Brigid’s day (1 February) happens to fall on a Friday, in which case that Friday 1 February will be a public holiday.


On a public holiday, sometimes called a bank holiday, most businesses and schools close. Other services (for example, public transport) still operate but often have restricted schedules.


About this new holiday, coming 120 years after St. Patrick’s feast day was declared a public holiday, Áine Mangan, CEO of Into Kildare (Kildare tourism board) said, “This decision marks the modelling of the equal dignity of male and female at national level.”[1]


Second reason for the hullabaloo. Those of us who are a) Irish and in possession of an internet connection or b) already followers of Brigit are probably aware that this Imbolc marks the beginning of BRIGID 1500 – CELEBRATING A WOMAN, A LIFE, A LEGACY, a year of events leading up to Imbolc 2024, the fifteen-hundredth anniversary of the death of the saint.


Third. This Imbolc is the THIRTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE RELIGHTING OF BRIGIT’S FLAME in Kildare, by the Brigidine Sisters. Even if no one else was paying attention to the day, I suspect that FÉILE BRÍDE 2023 would be a more than usually significant occasion for the participants. (Coincidentally, it is also the thirtieth anniversary of Daughters of the Flame rekindling Brigit’s flame, so we have our own reason to be joyful.)




The RTÉ has a good article on the OLD WAYS in which St. Brigit’s Day was honoured, many of which are being revived in modern times. The article is peppered with radio and television clips to illustrate different ideas.


How Ireland used to celebrate St Brigid's Day in the past,” by Marion McGarry (RTÉ Brainstorm). Monday, 16 Jan 2023.






A full week of events are planned for this year's Brigid Festival in Kildare. The festival is offered by the Brigidine Sisters at Solas Bhríde, Kildare County Council, and the local tourism board, “Into Kildare.” What a momentous year it is, as the Brigidine Sisters observe thirty years of tending Brigit’s rekindled flame, in conjunction with the leadup of Brigid 1500th to the anniversary of Saint Brigit’s death.


To me, one of the most meaningful events to mark St. Brigit’s Day is the PAUSE FOR PEACE called for by Solas Bhríde.


“Pause for Peace will see the residents of Kildare calling on people all around the world to stop for a minute’s silence at noon (local time) on 1 February.”

                                                                   Conor Forrest, Kildare Nationalist

Sr Rita Minehan of Solas Bhríde said that the Pause for Peace offers a “spiritual underpinning” to the day and is in harmony with the value of peace which St. Brigid stood for during her lifetime.


“By pausing for peace, we send out a message that we actively oppose warfare and the proliferation of arms, which wreak havoc on human beings as well as on the natural world. This movement aims to awaken and build a spirit of global solidarity in our search for peace.”

                                                                    Rita Minehan


You are very welcome to join this event wherever you are, perhaps involving your community in one minute of silence, reflecting on peace and sending peace from our hearts to the people of the world, especially those in places of war and crisis. ONLINE & IN PERSON



has a very full week of activities planned. If you are able to get here, don’t miss the Brigid of Faughart Mural in Bridge Street, Dundalk, Co.Louth, painted by the artist Friz. IN PERSON



LA FHÉILE BRÍDE / BRIGIDS DAY FESTIVAL CLONDALKIN – Clondalkin's Annual One DayFestival to celebrate St Brigid's Day. February 1st. IN PERSON




“Founded in 2016, Herstory tells women’s stories through the arts, visionary education projects, and spectacular light shows.”


“Herstory is calling on all counties and diaspora centres across the world to illuminate for the first official national holiday on Brigid’s Day 2023. From the shadows into the light, this will be a joyous celebration of all Mná, our Celtic Goddess, Matron Saint and Imbolc, the ancient festival of Spring.”

                                                                             HerstoryIreland website


This will be the fourth year in a row that Herstory Ireland has had a Brigid’s Day celebration, images of which, with Courtney Davis’s portrait of Brigit projected onto the GPO, are by now very familiar from social media. They campaigned to have St. Brigit’s Day declared a national holiday, so the cheering this year is well earned, indeed. IN PERSON (& ONLINE?)


“‘BRIGID 1500’ is a programme of events, to celebrate and commemorate St. Brigid, the woman, the life and the legacy in a broad and rich way.  The main aim of ‘Brigid 1500’ is to create a meaningful cultural and societal legacy that appeals to a diverse contemporary audience. ‘Brigid 1500’ will engage communities with the story and heritage of St. Brigid, providing a tangible connection with the past through events and programmes that have an ongoing meaning and relevance. The programme will engage with the values St. Brigid championed including faith and spirituality, biodiversity and sustainability, arts and culture, social justice, peace, hospitality and education. The ‘Brigid 1500’ programme comprises of a series of events and initiatives including festivals, concerts, talks, art commissions, illuminations, pilgrimages, and craft workshops as well as a school’s programme to cement St. Brigid’s lasting legacy.”

                                                                             Brigid1500 website


The Kildare Nationalist has a piece on the various events lined up for Brigid 1500 (see below). “Host ofEvents for 2023 to Celebrate Life and Legacy of St Brigid,” Monday, January 16, 2023. IN PERSON




BRIGID FESTIVAL VANCOUVER returns for the fourth year, with three in person events and one online session with the Brigidine sisters Rita Minehan and Phil O’Shea, “Tending the Flame of St. Brigid.” Free registration. ONLINE & IN PERSON


“Brigid Festival Vancouver is a four-day free festival to celebrate the healing, light, and creativity of Irish women and women across the world with a mix of in-person and virtual gatherings. This year our inclusive theme is: 'There's Room for Everyone Under Brigid's Cloak'.”

                                                                   BrigidFestival Vancouver website




THE UNITED IRISH CULTURAL CENTER (Irish Center) in San Francisco is pulling out the stops for this year’s Saint Brigid’s Day. One brilliant event is something you can do at home: spring cleaning! Which is in fact an old tradition connected to this day. IN PERSON


SOLAS NUA PRESENTS “IMBOLC with Galway singer Maija Sofia, 1 Feb. 2023 in Washington, D.C..  IN PERSON



Like the Brigidine Sisters, DAUGHTERS OF THE FLAME are reaching thirty years of tending Brigit’s flame this Imbolc, the first candle being lit in Vancouver, Canada, and subsequent shifts tended across many countries over the years.


The coincidence of these two rekindlings wasn’t known to us for a number of years. As far as I knew, the Brigidine Sisters were long gone, and it was up to the rest of us to bring Brigit’s flame back into the world. As so many of us now have. What a joy to then discover we had been working alongside these remarkable sisters in Brigit’s home of Kildare.


We will not be staging a public event, but gathering together on Zoom and reading a very long retrospective newsletter when not swept away by other revelries. PRIVATE





If your own locale is publicly celebrating Imbolc/Saint Brigit’s Day this year, feel free to leave a link below in the comment section.


Beannachtaí na Féile Bríde agus Imbolc oraibh!


Blessings of Brigid's Day & Imbolc to you all!







Images: “Brigid's Blessing” by Sue Ellen Parkinson. “Dylan Kelly (3) and students from local Kildare schools at the launch of ‘Pause for Peace’.” Photo: Conor Healy / Picture It Photography. From “Kildare Calls for a Pause for Peace on St Brigid’s Day,” Friday, January 13, 2023, Kildare Nationalist. “Triskele Agnóstico based on image by DaDez Creative Commons ASA 3 0 U. All other images are from the event webpages.

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