Taoiseach visits St Brigid’s Cathedral, Kildare
On Friday 27th January, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD visited St Brigid’s Cathedral, Kildare, in advance of Ireland’s newest public holiday which celebrates the most renowned female saint in Ireland.
An Taoiseach was escorted around the cathedral by Rev Philip McKinley from the Kildare Centre of Mission and members of the Select Vestry of the Parish.
As the former Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mr Varadkar formally designated St Brigid’s Day as a public holiday in February 2022. Therefore Mr Varadkar visited the cathedral having returned to the role of Taoiseach in December 2022, to see firsthand the local preparations in Kildare for the inaugural holiday weekend.
St Brigid’s Cathedral, Kildare, marks the ancient hilltop site of St Brigid’s double monastery (for men and women) which she founded in 480 AD. St Brigid’s Church of the Oak (‘Cill Dara’ in Irish), gave rise to the name of the town, county and diocese of Kildare.
During his visit, An Taoiseach was shown around the cathedral grounds where he saw the fire pit, which had kept a perpetual flame alight for almost a millennium. The Taoiseach also saw the highest accessible round tower in Ireland and the High Cross of Kildare, both of which are contained within the cathedral grounds. The cathedral itself is marking the 800th anniversary of its stone construction, under Bishop Ralph of Bristol in 1223 AD.
The first St Brigid’s public holiday also coincides with the launch of Brigid 1500, an extensive two–year programme of international and national events to celebrate and commemorate ‘the woman, the life and the legacy’ of St Brigid, who died in 524 AD.
As part of the Brigid 1500 celebrations, St Brigid’s Cathedral will host ‘A Concert for Brigid’ with Eimear Quinn at 7.00pm on Sunday 5th February. The cathedral will also be open for visitors from Monday 30th January – Monday 6th February, 11.00am – 4.00pm (except Sunday 5th February). On the Feast Day of St Brigid (Wednesday 1st February), there will be a Said Eucharist at 11.00am in the cathedral followed by the Pause for Peace at midday. On the evening of the 1st February, the parish will take part in a St Brigid’s Day Ecumenical Service in St Brigid’s Parish Church, Kildare, at 7.00pm.
During St Brigid’s Tide, Kildare Centre of Mission will also make available copies of a new publication entitled ‘Brigid of Kildare: Lighting Fires of Faith’, which is a partnership between Church Army and Hope for Every Home Ireland.
During his visit to Kildare, An Taoiseach was accompanied by Maria Walsh MEP and Minister Martin Heydon TD. They visited Solas Bhríde Centre & Hermitages to give their support to the Pause of Peace initiative which is spearheaded by IntoKildare, the County Kildare Tourism Board and Solas Bhríde. The Pause for Peace will see the residents of County Kildare (Ireland) calling on people all around the world to stop for a minute’s silence at 12.00 noon (local time) on the 1st of February 2023.
The St Brigid’s public holiday will be observed on the first Monday of February except where the 1st of February falls on a Friday in which case it will be observed on that day. The 2023 holiday will therefore fall on Monday 6th February.