Hello and welcome to this weekend’s virtual walk.
You will remember back in February we walked through the town of Kildare and visited St. Brigid’s monastery and Holy well .. this time we are going to visit her birthplace and the shrine dedicated to our national lady saint.
Let’s head for the village of Faughart located near to town of Dundalk in County Louth .
Having found the tiny village with the help of GPS there is a well marked car park , so let’s get out and have a look around.
Near the border with Northern Ireland The Hill of Faughart is a famous historical site with the remains of an Iron age fort , and the location of several incidents in the most famous tale in Irish mythology – the Táin Bó Cúailnge -or the Cattle raid at Cooley . In more recent historical times there are the remains of a Norman castle and medieval church … but most importantly, this is the site where St Brigid was born in 451 .
Over the centuries Faughart has become a place of Pilgrimage, so come along with me to visit this interesting shrine.
We head up the road and through the gates of the shrine. The first thing we can see are four statues that form the beginning of a set of steps leading to the Shrine of Saint Brigid.
Behind the shrine is a holy well and pilgrims are encouraged to take a sip of the water before setting out on the route that follows alongside the stream.
As we walk downhill we pass the stations of the Cross that stand in the woodlands. As we have the place to ourselves we can hear the trickle of the stream and the call of the wild birds – how tranquil it all is !
Crossing a lane we come to the second part of the route , and this is where ancient traditions are evident. Have a look at the various stones that mark stopping points on the pilgrimage .
We can stop at the hoof stone, the Knee stone, the Waist stone , the eye stone and finally the head stone. Traditionally certain prayers are said at each stone, and legend tells that the stones have powers to cure certain ailments . Can you see that the stones are worn and eroded by centuries of pilgrim’s touch?
As February 1st is the feast of St Brigid, I am told this place is packed on that day, with a torchlight procession along the route, and the making of St Brigid’s crosses that are woven from rushes.
A nearby notice board tells us that the shrine has fallen into disrepair over the years and what we see was mainly refurbished in the 1930’s with an indoor church being added in more recent years – a great idea given the typical Irish weather!
We have been lucky with the weather today, hardly a cloud in the sky ! I do hope that you enjoyed this visit , and stay well until next time.
You can see more photos from our walk over on my facebook page – stephenwalshconnemaramarble