Mary Teresa Cullen Brigidine Leader lighting the flame in the square 25 years ago
Twenty five years ago this month the St Brigid's flame was lit in Kildare town and it has not gone out since.
The Brigidine sisters, Rita, Phil and Mary recalled the day the flame came to Kildare town.
“It burns as a beacon of hope, justice and peace for our country,” said Sr Rita.
“We are living in a very fearful and unsettling time at the moment so we try to keep the flame burning.”
The flame was first lit in 1993 and since that time people, including the Dalai Lama, have come from all over the world to see the flame and spend time with the Brigidine sisters.
Their new centre at Solas Bhride offers space for quiet meditation in the presence of St Brigid whose ‘energy’ the sisters say they can feel on a daily basis.
“The flame was first lit in the 16 century in Kildare so we re-lit it and then realised that we can’t let it go out again,” Sr Rita added.
According to Sr Mary the flame coincided with a resurgence of interest in St Brigid worldwide.
“Her message is one of simplicity, sustainability, hospitality, openness, hope and mindfulness. The tiny flame that lights here is like the one that is inside all of us. And we are reminded to nourish and look after it and take time for the light to shine.”
Sr Phil said that her feast day on February 1 heralds the coming of spring.
“Her message was one of simplicity. She had a wonderful sense of being in tune with the rhythms of life and nature. Come home to yourself and have quiet time.” The celebrations include a full programme of events from January 29 to February 5.
Programme of events
The Feile Bride programme begins on Sunday, January 29 with a guided walking tour of St Brigid’s Monastic site called Kildare Monastic Trail at 2.30pm.
There is also a Traditions and Customs afternoon revisiting some of the traditions and customs associated with St Brigid at Solas Bhride Center from 2.30pm to 4.30pm.
On Monday, January 30 there will be a morning of gentle movement and sacred dance at Solas Bhride at 10.30am. Later that evening there will be an overview of the Brigid and the Brehon Laws with a tasting of food and drink that they protected and influenced at Boyles pub from 7.30pm.
On Tuesday, January 31 there will be a morning of quiet reflection at Solas Bhride at 10.30am.
A Brigid’s eve ritual at St Brigid's well will take place later that evening at 7.30pm meeting at the Japanese Garden’s car park. This is a pilgrimage of quiet reflection, song, and prayer on the eve of spring time. On Wednesday, February 1 St Brigid’s Day there will be a weaving of the crosses at Solas Bhride at 10.30am.
There will be a celebration concert called ‘Let your Light Shine’ with Luka Bloom, Fionnuala Gill and Cormac Breatnach at Solas Bhride that evening at 8pm.
On Thursday, February 2 there will be an interpretative floral art demonstration with Enda Thompson Phelan from 2.30pm at Solas Bhride.
The Wordsmith Writers Group will give a reading at the library later that evening at 7.30pm called ‘There’s a crack in everything —that’s how the light gets in' — Leonard Cohen.
On Friday, February 3 there will be the annual celtic heritage lecture on St Brigid given this year by Professor Marin Ni Dhonnchada at Kildare Education Centre at 8pm.
The Afri Justice and Peace Conference will take place on Saturday at Solas Bhride from 10.30am to 4.30pm. On Sunday the Eucharistic Celebration will take place at St Brigid's Well at 10.30am.
St Brigid's Cathedral will be open to visitors and an art exhibition on the Book of Kildare will take place at the Heritage Centre.