St Brigid's Day & the beginning of spring.....

"If winter comes, can spring be far behind?" - Percy Bysshe Shelley

Tales of a Tourism Officer - Fallon Ní Ghrifín


Well, here we are….The first day of spring (in Ireland – some of you are still wintering it out elsewhere!). How lovely it is to know that we’ve closed the door on winter and are heading into the lighter and brighter days of springtime. As some of you may know, today marks the feast of St. Brigid. And in Ireland, it is the traditional Celtic festival of ‘Imbolg’ which signifies the beginning of spring. Therefore, I have ample material to discuss with you all today! I hope everyone is keeping safe and well. Taking it all a day at a time is proving to be the best way to navigate the current climate…Here on the Dingle Peninsula, we are still missing all our visitors immensely, as we patiently await the day when we can welcome you all back. Until then, as always, stay connected with us here through the blog as I bring you updates from the Dingle Peninsula, and follow along on our social media to catch a glimpse of some of the spots that will be waiting for you upon your return!

As I mentioned, today marks the Celtic festival of ‘Imbolc’, the traditional beginning of spring. It is always celebrated on the 1st of February as it is thought to fall about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It is also the feast day of St. Brigid, and traditionally on Imbolc, Brigid’s Crosses were made and a doll-like figure of Brigid would be paraded from house to house by young girls. It was believed that St. Brigid visited one’s home at Imbolc, and people would leave items of clothing or a piece of cloth outside for her to bless.

St. Brigid's Day cross made from rushes

In Ireland, one of the strongest St. Brigid’s day tradition that is still carried out today is the making of St. Brigid’s Crosses on the eve of her feast day. This involves weaving rushes together to create a 4-armed cross. They are then placed in people’s homes over windows and doors and it is believed the blessed St. Brigid’s cross will protect them from fire, illness and evil spirits. Creating the crosses from the rushes is a lovely ritual each year, one that I first learned in school. It’s been a while since I’ve made one but we gathered rushes this weekend and I made my very own Brigid’s cross (a photo of which I have provided for you all)! It’s a lovely process to start off with a bunch of long rushes and finish with an intricate pattern in the middle of the cross. The crosses usually remain in the house for the year as the rushes slowly dry out and turn straw-like.

While today is heavily associated with several different traditions, it’s important to remember that it also marks the first day of spring. With everything that is happening in the world at the moment, I, for one am delighted to welcome in springtime and wave goodbye to the winter!! Springtime brings with it brighter days, better weather (subject to interpretation here on the Dingle Peninsula!!!) and new life be it with flowers in bloom or calves and lambs being born. There is an Irish saying about springtime and the lovely things it brings with it that goes: Ó lá le Bríde amach, bíonn na héin ag déanamh nead, bíonn na caoire ag breith na nuan ‘is bíonn na laethanta ag dul I bhfad. (Roughly translated to: From St. Brigid’s day onwards, the birds make their nests, the sheep have their lambs and the days get longer). 

Rushes used to make the St. Brigid's Day crosses

Another particularly wonderful arrival of springtime is the reappearance of daffodils! They are the most pleasing yet simple flower and they disappear for a large period of the year but always return right at the turn of spring…If Covid has taught us anything, it is to enjoy the little things in life. And spring offers us that chance in abundance. Take a few moments each day to enjoy the brighter mornings, the longer evenings and the hope that spring offers. As always, stay safe, mind each other and take each day as it comes. Today I will finish with a blessing from St. Brigid:


May Brigid bless the house wherein you dwell,
Bless every fireside, every wall and door,
Bless every heart that beats beneath its roof,
Bless every hand that toils to bring it joy,
Bless every foot that walks its portals through,
May Brigid bless the house that shelters you.


Slán go fóill,