Account of Kildare Imbolc ritual 2011
- Account of Kildare Imbolc ritual 2011
As I arrived into Kildare, on the bus from Cork, I could see from the
bus window, the beautiful 6ft Brigit's Cross in box hedging growing on
the bank at the side of the road. I got off in the town square where
there's a huge sculpture of a flaming torch wreathed in oak leaves,
and a powerful-looking statue of Brigit. A big "Feile Bhride" banner
was flying .
I was met from the bus by a friend, Paul who'd travelled up from Cork
earlier. He took me to the house of his friend's Mum, Peg, a lovely 80
year-old woman who kindly put us up for the night :)
Paul and I walked the mile or so out of town down the dark side road
towards Brigit's Healing Well. As we got close we could see flames
along the side of the road. The ritual route was lit with flaming
torches which were basically large food cans nailed to sticks and
filled with some kind of fuel. They looked amazing!
We got to the healing well, again surrounded with flames, and I
climbed down the steep bank so I could bless myself with the water.
Just past the well, a 20ft Circle had been laid out in lanterns made
from paper bags with sand in them, holding candles. In the centre of
the circle was a large 3-legged brazier full of fire, surounded with
arrangements of rushes, symbolizing the hearth. There was a big crowd
there..maybe 100 people of all ages. One of the nuns welcomed
everybody whatever reason they had come for, and started teaching us
all different Brigit chants (she called them "chants" not "hymns) in
Irish and English. One of them was "Oscailt mo chroí" ("open my
heart"). Another had the words "lead us to a deeper well"
She encouraged the crowd to walk deiseal (Irish for clockwise or
'sunwise') around the circle while we were chanting. We were asked to
shout out the names of the places we had travelled from. The nun
talked about the tradition of Brigit walking the land and blessing
every town,home, and shed on the Eve of her feast and taught us to
chant Her name to invite her to the circle. She talked about Brigit
being the one who brings Spring and breathes life into the mouth of
A woman then carried a piece of cloth around the circle holding it out
towards the people to bless us. We were told that it was Bridget's
mantle and that we should each leave a piece of cloth outside on our
window -ledge that night which would become Brigit's mantle and could
be used for healing throughout the year. A young girl of about ten
sang a beautiful song to Brigit and then water from the Healing Well
was carried around the circle by 4 women and sprinkled on the crowd.
A young woman wove a Brigit's Cross from rushes in the centre of the
circle while we chanted about weaving the hopes of our hearts' delight
into it. Then one of the nuns walked around the circle , holding up
the Brigit's Cross made from rushes, asking for blessings from the
Four Directions including love from the South and strength from the
North. We followed Brigit's flame as it was carried away from the
circle, chanting as we walked along the mile -long torch-lit route to
the Garden Shrine. ("Brigit light our path through darkest night and
brightest day")Many people were carrying lanterns or glass jars with
lit candles in them.
Outside the entrance to the shrine was another large burning brazier.
The shrine itself is about 1/4 of an acre, surrounded by trees, with a
stream running through it, upright stones. and a statue of Brigit as a
strong woman holding a torch. We chanted "Walk gently onthe Earth, we
must respect Her, She does not belong to us, our children must inherit
Her. We were invited to shout out our hopes for ourselves and the
world. People shouted things like "justice "peace of mind"
"reconnecting with the earth". People gave each other a sign of
peace, hugging or shaking hands with the people around us
After the ritual had finished, Christy Moore's brother, Luka Bloom
played his guitar in the shrine and sang his Imbolc song "Don't be
afraid of the light that shines within you"
The ritual is held every year in Kildare on January 31st. I'd really
recommend going! :)
Did you know that just 1% of the population of Ireland
are estimated to own at least 34% of the wealth of the country?