Féile Bríde

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Irish National Stud

Last weekend we headed for Kildare, a town about three hours north of here, near Dublin, for the Féile Bríde, the Feast of St. Brigid. St. Brigid is often called the female St. Patrick, she is the second patron saint of Ireland. Brigid lived in Kildare in the 4th century, and the Brigidine Sisters this year celebrate 200 years since the founding of their order.

We learned about the festival late in the week, and so missed several of the events. We had no idea how big the festival would be, though we had some suspicions when we had trouble finding a place to stay for the weekend. Finally, thanks to a recommendation from one of the sisters, we found a great B&B right in the heart of Kildare. We got into Kildare Friday evening and had a tasty dinner in front of the roaring fire at a local pub. Saturday morning at breakfast we met two ladies from Oregon who were in Kildare for the Feast celebration, one making her fourteenth visit. This festival was big indeed, drawing people from around the world.

The main event that drew us to the Festival was a talk by the Irish author John O’Donohue of Anam Cara fame. We had read Anam Cara several years ago and had picked up a couple of other works since we moved to Ireland, so we were quite happy to finally get a chance to meet the man. The day began with a couple of songs by the amazing Luka Bloom. He then introduced his friend John O’Donohue, who spoke for a couple of hours on a wide range of spiritual topics. Mr. O’Donohue grew up in Connemara in the west of Ireland, and is a fluent Irish speaker. He has a deep, rich voice and a gift for storytelling. He peppers his talks with references to philosophers like Kant, the Christian Bible, and Celtic legends. His passion and energy leave you feeling charged up and ready to take on the world, while his words challenge you to spend more time knowing yourself. The whole day was really quite an experience. Mr. O’Donohue travels to the States fairly regularly giving talks and retreats - if you can catch him, I’d highly recommend it! If you can’t catch him in person, check out some of his books, listed below.

After Mr. O’Donohue’s talk, Luka Bloom closed out the morning with a couple more songs. Then it was off to a tasty lunch, followed by an afternoon of music with the Kill Singers, an Irish church choir (kill is Irish for church or chapel). Once the festivities were wrapped up, we made a brief stop at St. Brigid’s well. I’ll write more later about the holy wells of Ireland - you can read more here for now.

The day’s activities were held at the Japanese Gardens at the Irish National Stud, an absolutely beautiful spot. Given that the festival’s attendees were overwhelmingly female, the male speaker and musician had great fun with the fact that the event was being held at a stud farm! We spent a little time walking around the grounds and saw some of the racing thoroughbreds boarded there - horses that make considerably more $$$ per year than we do! We’ll definitely plan on a return trip here to check out the gardens later in the spring.

Books by John O’Donohue:

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