A clear indication of the approach of Saint Brigid’s Day or Imbolc, is that nature’s time of rest is coming to a close and the landscape is re-awakening. This was noted most beautifully by the local poet Marie Kerley in her poem :
What is Spring
When crocuses push
Through quickening soil.
When trees rustle
Skeletal branches –
When buds burst bark.
When Birds weave baskets
When air is flushed green
And Brigid’s spirit reigns.
Saint Brigid’s Shrine at Faughart.
At Saint Brigid’s Shrine we see the cheerful stream weave through the re-awakened mystical landscape just as the reeds weave together to make the traditional St Brigid’s Cross. The stream emerges out of Mother Earth and traces through the tall trees down to the fabulous healing stones and return to the surrounding pasture fields at Faughart. The echo of pilgrim footsteps has long been associated with Saint Brigid’s Shrine and this has been developed and maintained by local voluntary help and support.
As Sean O ‘Donohue had said; When we find a place in nature where your mind and heart rest then you discover the sanctuary of your soul.
Hill of Faughart.
Equally at the nearby Hill of Faughart there is a powerful weave of saints and heroes, battles and boundaries, history and myth and ritual and religion. This medieval monastic site sits atop a local highpoint with a spectacular view of north Louth and into south Armagh. Like the shrine, the hill of Faughart has retained a echo of pilgrim footsteps to the late medieval church ruin and in particular to the Saint Brigid’s well. But the landscape has been alive here, since Neolithic times. The very name Faughart has developed from a battle episode from the ancient Táin legend, while in 1318 Edward the Bruce was defeated near here at the Battle of Faughart.
But most importantly, Saint Brigid, the champion of Celtic Spirituality, weaves her story through these beautiful focal points of mythical Ireland.
Pat O’Rourke, January 2014