St. Brigid of Kildare

As we come to the end of one year and start planning for a new one, it is time to reflect on what the last 12 months has been like for Solas Bhríde.

Féile Bríde

Brigid: Flame of Justice and Peace was the overarching theme of the 28th Annual Feile Bride in Solas Bhride and Kildare town. As always, we started with quiet reflection, song and prayer at St. Brigid’s well on the eve.  We welcomed friends and strangers from near and far on St. Brigid’s day. It was wonderful to see so many wanting to weave a St. Brigid’s cross and even more wonderful to witness the delight on their faces as they left showcasing their self-crafted cross.

We had a week-long programme of creative events which included a workshop on the traditions and customs associated with St. Brigid, a harp recital which treated all to a taste of Ireland’s unique harping heritage, a Celtic lecture titled “This Sacred Universe”.  Other events included eucharist at St. Brigid’s well, sacred dance, workshop on ecology, floral art demonstration, meditation, a conversation about St. Brigid in Europe and a celebration of local poets, musicians, and writers at Kildare Town library.

The Feile culminated with a magical concert featuring Steve Cooney and Cormac Breatnach followed by the Afri Justice and Peace Conference which had as its theme ‘Rekindling; Revitalizing; Rewilding; Restoring’  – a wonderful, informative and challenging day on the need to care for Planet Earth, our common home.

Seeds of various kinds are sown at this Conference each year and shoots of new life spring up in unexpected ways and places in the aftermath of each Feile Bride.

Hermitage Stays

Our Hermitage bookings were up on the previous year with a variety of guests from Ireland and abroad coming to avail of some quiet time for reflection, rest, silence or prayer.  We welcomed writers, poets, religious and people who just wanted some time away from a busy world.  Our three hermitages were booked out in July when we re-opened and bookings for August were very good. However, as Kildare went back into lockdown in August this resulted in cancellations.

Meeting Spaces

We also rent meeting rooms to groups looking for a place to hold meetings and events. We welcomed a few groups in the caring profession who were conducting staff training sessions in early Spring.

Plan and Prepare

When March arrived, the world changed and it resulted in us having to close the centre until the beginning of July. This meant cancellations of pilgrimages, events, workshops and confirmation retreats.  However, we used this time to plan and prepare.  We developed a comprehensive Covid 19 Policy for Solas Bhride and have received the Failte Ireland Covid 19 Safety Charter.

We reviewed the past five years and proceeded to develop a strategic plan for the next three years. Members of Cairde Bhride and other volunteers formed three teams to assist with the development of programmes and events, to develop a communications and social media strategy and to provide hospitality at Solas Bhride. With their invaluable assistance we look to the future with positivity and a renewed sense of enthusiasm.

Launch of Meditative Walk

This year we developed the Meditative Walk around the grounds of Solas Bhride. On this walk you can take time to walk mindfully, pause at each of the significant points along the way, take time to walk the Labyrinth, reflect at the willow bower, enjoy the scents of the herb garden or rest in the Brigid Room within which sits the Brigid Flame, beacon of hope, justice and peace.

Meditation and Heritage Online

When you could not physically come to us, we used the power of social media to be with you. We posted reflections, thoughts and comments on our Facebook page.  We marked Heritage week by posting a video with a member of Cairde Bhride speaking on the customs and traditions associated with the weaving of a St. Brigid’s cross.   We carried on the tradition of celebrating the seasons by  creating a video for the Autumn Equinox while at Samhain we shared three short reflections on Facebook.  We finish the year with a further 4 reflections for the season of Advent shared on the Solas Bhride Facebook page.

2020 for us was a year of learning to adapt to a new reality. We look ahead to a new year filled with the possibility of bringing new ideas on how we operate and the services we have to offer as we go forward.