Friday, 1 February 2013

St Brigid's Day

February 1st is the feast day of  St Brigid's Day in Ireland and is also considered to mark the beginning of Spring.
St Brigid is one of the great Irish saints and is closely associated with Faughart near the Louth/Armagh border.

The Shrine to St Brigid
It is believed that she was born to a pagan chieftain Dubhtach and that her mother was a Christian, possibly a slave.
From an early age, Brigid was said to display goodness and kindness to the poor.
According to local legend, she disfigured herself by plucking out her eye so that she wouldn't be considered marriageable and she became a nun, later founding her own convent in Co Kildare.
As often happens, the story of this Christian saint most likely married elements of an earlier pagan goddess or goddesses also called Brigid.
Hundreds of pilgrims visit her birthplace in Faughart, where there is a stream and holy well, a  grotto and small church.


Holy Well

Here too,  superstition mingles with religion. Pilgrims tie strips of cloth and leave offerings such as holy medals and rosary beads on a bush, they kneel on the stone said to bear the indent of Brigid's knees, while a hole in another stone is supposed to be where she placed her eye.

The Kneeling Stone


It's traditional to make St Brigid Crosses out of woven rushes and these are usually placed on the inside of the front door to ward off evil and misfortune.
The old celtic feast of Imbolc marking the beginning of Spring also falls today, although I always consider it a bit optimistic to think that Spring has arrived so soon although I did hear birdsong as I ate my breakfast this morning.


  1. Happy Spring, I hope! Beautiful images for St Brigid. Funny how there's a Saint for everything. I just learned that St Clemons is the patron Saint of hatters!

    1. St Brigid seems to be particular busy as she appears to be a patron saint for dairy maids, tailors, sailors, poets, scholars, blacksmiths, healers, midwives, new-born babies, cattle among others, as well as being a patron saint of Ireland.

  2. Lovely photos and a nice bit of history

  3. Thank you for this very interesting post.

  4. Hello:
    We have been delighted to have discovered your most interesting and eclectic blog through Lorely [Writing from the Edge].

    What you say here, and illustrate with the most wonderful photographs, about Saint Brigid is absolutely fascinating. We knew of Saint Lucy losing her eyes but clearly she was not the only one! Here in Hungary we are always intrigued to see Wayside Crosses which, like this shrine, are always beautifully kept.

    We have signed as Followers.

    1. Thanks for dropping by. I think a lot of these stories share similar mythical qualities.
      We visited Budapest on holidays last summer so I'm very envious of you living it that beautiful city.

  5. Interesting. I love that you all mark the beginning of Spring so early. Waiting until the equinox at the end of March nearly kills me, although I guess Spring will come when it's darn ready, not when we declare it should arrive.

    Too bad Brigid felt like she had to pluck out her own eyes to make herself unmarriageable. Geez. Seems like there's gotta be a less painful and impermanent way. :)

    I love seeing these photos. Thanks for posting.



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