Mary of the Gael – is the patroness of Ireland. Her feast day St. Brigid’s Day, is on the 1st February (she died around 523 or 524 AD) and is celebrated each year in the town under the auspices of the Brigidine Sisters during the festival called Féile Bride (Festival of St. Brigid).
This festival, which takes place around St. Brigid’s Day, 1st February, is a five day event organised by the Brigidine Sisters. It features a pilgrimage to St. Brigid’s Well on the eve of the feast day and a peace and justice conference. Local schools are involved in bringing the story of St. Brigid to life through weaving of crosses and dramatisations of her life.
The celebration of the Eucharist and other creative rituals are conducted in the local churches and at St Brigid’s Well. Artists entertain those who come to a feast of poetry, music, song and dance. Locals and visitors together explore places associated with Brigid in Kildare Town and The Curragh. Féile Bríde attracts participants from many countries.
St. Brigid is forever associated with Kildare Town and The Curragh is known as St. Brigid’s Pastures. According to legend, it was granted to St. Brigid by the King of Leinster in return for reducing the size of his ears. Having agreed to settle for a portion of land that her cloak would cover, Brigid threw down her cloak and it spread until it encompassed the whole Curragh (5,000 acres).
Text taken from “The Hundred Acres, Kildare Town Slí na Sláinte and Heritage Trail” by Mario Corrigan & “Rekindling the Flame” by Rita Minehan (Both available in our gift shop)
St. Brigid’s Cathedral & Round Tower
This marks the original site of the Church of St Brigid (Patroness of Ireland) which was established under an oak tree. The original stone Cathedral was built by Ralph De Bristol, Bishop of Kildare in 1223 AD. The modern Cathedral was almost completely rebuilt in the late 19th Century. Within the grounds you have Ireland’s Highest accessible Round Tower (12th Century) and the remains of St. Brigid’s Firehouse where her inextinguishable fire was kept by her Sisters until the time of the reformation. In 1993, the sacred flame was symbolically relit in Market Square in Kildare Town by Mary Teresa Cullen, the then leader of the Brigidine Sisters. Kildare County Council commissioned a sculpture to house the flame in Kildare Town Square in 2005. President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, presided at the lighting of the Perpetual Flame in the Town Square on St. Brigid’s Day 2006. The Sacred flame was lit from the flame tended by the Brigidine Sisters in the new Solas Bhríde Centre on Tully Road in Kildare.
Cathedral & Round Tower Opening Times
1st of May until 30th September
(Access to the Cathedral Grounds ONLY can be gained October – January by dropping into the Kildare Town Heritage Centre first)
Monday-Saturday, 10am – 1pm & 2pm – 5pm
Sundays 2pm to 5pm. Last entrance is 4.45pm daily.