Beannachtaí na Féile Bríde ort!
On this First of February, I wish you a Happy St Brigid’s Day.
St Brigid is second only to St Patrick among the Irish saints, and along with Colmcille of Derry these three are venerated as our national patrons.
Here at Lough Derg, St Brigid’s memory is honoured in several ways but, of course, St Brigid was not from this part of the country. She was a Leinster woman. Her story places her origins in Northeast Leinster, at Faughard in what is now Co Louth, and she is remembered as the founding Abbess of what would become the great monastery at Kildare in Southeast Leinster, where men and woman alike lived under her challenging but gentle rule.
In the ancient Celtic calendar, the festival of Imbolc which marked the close of winter and the coming of spring was celebrated on February 1st. Since Brigid was remembered as a woman with a great heart for nature, for the land and the livestock, her feast was assigned to this date in the Chrisitan calendar, to bring a Christian tone to the earlier Spring festival.
Each Saturday over the month of February, I intend to offer a short reflection on some aspects of devotion to St Brigid; perhaps you might join me for some of these.
As we begin, today let us simply allow room in our hearts for gratitude to God who has seen us through the darkest part of the year and spared us to see the return of the light and the lengthening of the days. May St Brigid inspire us to take note of the emerging signs of the coming spring in our gardens and hedgerows, and to rejoice in the hope of new life in body and spirit that they offer as we continue our pilgrimage through the year.
Slán go fóill!
Monsignor La Flynn
Prior, Lough Derg