Shining a Light on St. Brigid’s Day

by Aishling Conway
0 comment

Into Kildare, the County Kildare Tourism Board has this evening illuminated the Hill of Allen, to celebrate the eve of St. Brigid and to commemorate the 1500th year of the passing of Brigid, the patron saint of Co. Kildare.

The historic tower at the Hill of Allen emitted a series of bright lights at 5.00pm on Wednesday, January 31st, which could be seen for over twenty miles.  The tower and the hill will remain lit until midnight on the 31st of January before lighting up again from 5pm to midnight on St. Brigid’s Day, February 1st.

While the dramatic lighting up ceremony took place, Kildare native, singer-songwriter, Luka Bloom performed one of his own songs at the foot of the tower. The song, ‘Don’t be afraid of the light that shines within you’, tells the story of St.  Brigid and how she brings, grace, hope and light to the people of the world.

CEO of Into Kildare, Áine Mangan said, “During covid there was a real sense of isolation, particularly during lockdown when families and friends couldn’t meet up and see each other, and we came up with the idea of lighting up the highest hill in the county, The Hill of Allen, to act as a beacon of hope.  The complete tower was illuminated and Jack Lukeman, also known as ‘Jack L’ sang at the top of the Hill of Allen and the images were syndicated all around the globe. It was a wonderful opportunity for Kildare residents to reach out to the people of the world on the eve of St. Brigid’s to share a message of hope and unity. We also lit up Cupidstown hill which has a strong community in Kilteel who celebrate St. Brigid and distributed candles to Kildare residents to encourage them to pause for peace.”

The Hill of Allen has been lit up now for several years and Into Kildare aims to have a well-known County Kildare performer to sing at the base of the tower every year, on the eve St. Brigid’s. In 2024 the world-renowned international soprano, Kildare native, Celine Byrne sang ‘A candle for you’ at the tower and the lighting up of the hill.

 “We are incredibly lucky with the talent and support we have in our county and are very grateful to Luka for his wonderful contribution and live performance tonight,” said Áine. “It was really magical, and the song was very appropriate.”

The lighting up ceremony was also attended by the Cathaoirleach of County Kildare, Cllr. Daragh Fitzpatrick who said, “In ancient Irish folk tradition St. Brigid’s day heralded the arrival of spring and the message that brighter days are ahead. It is our hope that Brigid will bring her peace to what is now a very troubled world. The lighting up of the hill provides a message of hope to the people of the world from the residents of Kildare.”

Due to health and safety, there was no access to the Hill of Allen during the lighting up ceremony to ensure public safety. Members of the public can view the ‘lighting up’ from their own homes by logging onto Into Kildare’s Facebook page or by visiting www.intokildare.ie

Additionally, Into Kildare and Solas Bhríde Centre & Hermitages have joined forces and launched a global ‘Pause for Peace’ movement which will take place tomorrow, the 1st of February 2024, St. Brigid’s Day.  Pause for Peace will see the residents of County Kildare calling on people all around the world to stop for a minute’s silence at 12.00 noon on the 1st of February 2024.

The lighting of the hills and the Pause for Peace movement are just some of the special Into Kildare events and celebrations which formally recognises the importance of St. Brigid from a cultural, religious, spiritual, and historical point of view. ‘Brigid 1500’ will see a whole series of celebrations and events taking place at home and abroad. A delegation from Into Kildare will attend various formal events in London on St. Brigid’s Day where they will promote Kildare to the Irish diaspora in the UK. These distinguished events include a reception at Westminster Palace in London where the Pause for Peace movement will be promoted and started followed by a special service in St. Bride’s Church on Fleet Street. Later, tomorrow evening, (1st of February) Áine Mangan will make a presentation about County Kildare at the Irish Embassy in London which will be attended by members of the media and leading Irish business, arts, and cultural diaspora.

St. Brigid’s Day traditionally marks the first day of spring and has been celebrated by Christians all over the world for many centuries.  The much-adored Kildare patron saint was born in the fifth century, where she built a monastery for men and women in Kildare around 470AD.   Irish missionaries and migrants carried her name and spirit across the world and today, pilgrims and visitors come to County Kildare from all over the world seeking to walk in Brigid’s footsteps.   For more see www.intokildare.ie

PHOTOS – AISHLING CONWAY

Related Articles