St Brigid festival celebrates religious and traditional roots

DEVOTEES of St Brigid are expected to flock en masse to Benburb this week with the launch of a special four-day celebration of the Christian saint and Celtic goddess.

Christian customs and folk traditions will be practised including music and storytelling, readings and mediation, a tour of historic and holy sites, Cross-making, folk celebration and dancing.

The festivities begin in the Bottle of Benburb on Thursday 31st January at 8pm, which is traditionally the feast of Imbolg, one of the main Celtic celebrations of the year.

Well-practised locals with skilful hands will display the making of an interesting variety of St. Brigid’s Cross and rush work to visitors from various places.

A short talk will be given on Brigid, refreshments will be available, and an evening of traditional music and storytelling will follow.

Friday and Saturday will continue the celebration with a trip to historic sites, including St. Brigid’s Well sites, a folk celebration with traditional Rhymers showing other folk customs, a traditional meal of special significance, and also traditional music, singing and storytelling, all starting or taking place at the Bottle of Benburb.

Everyone is welcome to come along and join in the festivities.

On Sunday, the Servite Priory in Benburb will continue the theme of a special day of reflection celebrating the “Mary of the Gael”, with talks, readings and meditations on Christian associations of Brigid, her gifts and legacy, her love of God and people, her healing powers and associations with the earth and ecology; with times for silence and “time to dance”. The day will include lunch and finishes with Mass at 4.00 p.m.

The organisers of the festival said that Benburb was the perfect location for such an event.

“One of the greatest assets of Ireland is its fresh, green and unspoilt environment, and one of the greatest beauties of native Irish culture is the respect and veneration traditionally given in Irish religion to places of beauty and mystery such as Holy Wells and springs, standing stones hills and groves.

“Indeed Ireland had its very own saint and goddess, Brigid, who represented the beginning of spring, agriculture and young animals, and was venerated in many Holy Wells and springs. And Brigid, also a major European goddess, was known and celebrated all over Europe from Scandinavia to the Canary Islands. Appropriately, Benburb with its beautiful lush environment in an area which contains at least two holy wells associated with St. Brigid.”

For further information, please contact either 028 3754 8387 or the Servite Priory at 028 3754 8241.