THE first sod was turned last Friday February 15 for the construction of the new €4m Solas Bhride Centre in Kildare town, which is expected to attract 15,000 pilgrims by 2015.
The new centre will also bring a massive jobs boost during construction. The local economy is also set to benefit from the spin off business visitors will bring.
Centuries ago, when St. Brigid laid down her cloak across the Curragh to claim land for her monasteries from the King of Leinster, the scene was set for her everlasting bond with the Lilywhite county and Kildare town. Last Friday, the Brigidine Sisters continued on that path and dedicated the new centre at Tully to the Patroness of Ireland. The start of the build was marked by an official turning of the sod ceremony by Rita Minehan, Brigidine Sister and overall Co-ordinator of the Project, alongside the Finance Committee, the Project Team, Brigidine sisters and the local community. Also in attendance were Michael Malone, County Manager; Chris Byrne, Chairperson Kildare Leader Partnership and other public representatives.
“The ceremony was marked by music and the weaving of a St. Brigid’s cross into which was woven a flavour of the history of the project and words of gratitude for those involved. The cross will be placed in the foundations of the new building. This was followed by a blessing of the site,” said the Brigidine Sisters.
“We had a wonderful day. The birds sang, the sun shone and the whole place was glistening,” said Sr. Mary.
“The new Solas Bhride Centre and Hermitages will be a wonderful facility for the people of Kildare and the many pilgrims/visitors who come from all over the world,” commented Ann Riordan, member of the Development Team.
The vision of the Centre is “to unfold the legacy of St. Brigid of Kildare and its increasing relevance for our world” is a continuation of the work of the small Brigidine community in Dara Park, Kildare town.
The Solas Bhride Centre and Hermitages will cost €4 million, of which 80% has already been raised. The fundraising will continue during construction.
“Fundraising is extremely difficult at this time,” said Sr. Phil O’Shea, “when many people are hurt by the recession. However, we trust and believe in miracles!”
The centre will feature a reception and exhibition space, conference room, four self-catering hermitages, spirituality education and library area, hospitality room, chapel/prayer room, spiritual accompanying/counselling room, meeting room, and residential facilities for two staff members.
- Niamh O’Donoghue