"I am Brigid"

We asked a number of Irish women who are trailblazers in their fields for their thoughts on St Brigid’s Day and what it should encapsulate in 2023 and into the future.

Campaigner, LGBTIQ+ and feminist activist, Ailbhe Smyth framed in colourful drapes
Ailbhe Smyth

Campaigner, LGBTIQ+ and feminist activist, Ailbhe Smyth

“Pagan goddess or Catholic saint, what we know of Brigid through myth, legend and history is that she was a remarkable multi-talented woman: a visionary, a healer, a warrior, a rebel and a very astute strategist."

In short, we know and imagine Brigid as a powerful, generous, inclusive and compassionate leader who forged ahead, intrepid and undaunted by the challenges before her, with a strong vision of a more humane and equal world.

"In these current times of war, violence, forced migration and economic hardship, not to mention endemic global violence against women and girls, and the acute climate and environmental crisis, what better inspiration could women and girls hope to have than this fearless woman who valiantly refused to be cowed by any man, bishop or otherwise."

"I love and value the fluidity of the image we have of Brigid – triple goddess of healing, fire and poetry as well as saint, abbess and midwife – reimagining and recreating her for our contemporary times. I cannot think of a figure who more completely represents the qualities we need to guide us through our present maelstrom towards a brighter, safer, more just and generous future."

"And I don’t know of any woman who doesn’t need a good ‘dose of Brigid’ at some point or another in her life."

Long may we celebrate Brigid and everything she stands for.

Poet, Paula Meehan in front of photography backdrop
Poet, Paula Meehan

Poet, Paula Meehan

“Brigde, worshipped right around Northernmost Europe, connects us with Norwegian reindeer herders, with the Sami of Siberia, with other indigenous peoples in common folkloric practices."

"We share many of the same stories and lore clustered about her in both the oral and written traditions. She was an embodiment of neolithic matriarchal power before the rise of the patriarchy. She offers an opportunity to find integration and balance in our understanding of our place in nature. "

As protector of poets and eloquence, of healing and wells, and of smithy work, she can guide us in many ways — in ritualising language, in caring for our sources and resources, and in mining our inner strengths.”

“My deepest wish for what St Brigid’s Day might offer is for all of us to affirm and cherish female power in our communities, to celebrate what Brigid stands for — poetry, healing, wells, our resources and inner journeys — to assert the value of an egalitarian society that respects its creatives, to safeguard the hard won rights of women and girls especially in education and bodily autonomy, and to strive for a safer, more loving world for all.”

Climate justice activist, Jessica Dunne
Jessica Dunne

Climate justice activist, Jessica Dunne

“As we begin to look back on our history and the stories we tell ourselves, I think we've realised that the story of Brigid is a truly Irish one in which the land is a living thing that moves with sympathy for Brigid's plight. As we celebrate St Brigid's Day, I hope we do so to better understand the world as our ancestors did, not as something that exists to serve us but rather as something we live alongside, depending on one another.”

“The significance of St Brigid as a patron saint and as a goddess to me is, firstly, exciting. It’s exciting that a lot of Irish folklore is part of our everyday language or an annual part of our language."

"I think it’s really exciting to have a goddess that is honoured through our creativity, through our experiences as women or individuals, honouring our feminine energy.”

Poet, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin

“If feminine energy can be defined, it is associated with peace and natural fertility, harmony between the human and the animal. St Brigid is remembered in association with animal health, shown in many depictions with a cow at her feet, and in opposition to the cult of war, in the legend where she gives away her father’s sword."

"The many St Brigid’s wells all over Ireland are natural images of creative power.”

Young women may I hope be reminded, by looking at our earlier history, that women have played a major part in this country’s history and culture."

"And that the rediscovery of an earlier Ireland was an important element in the national movements that led to independence. We can still learn from the past.”

World Champion boxer, Lisa O’Rourke
Lisa O’Rourke

World Champion boxer, Lisa O’Rourke

“My hopes and expectations for Ireland as a nation to mark this day would be to increase the celebration and recognition of St Brigid’s Day around the country."

"It is important that we showcase the power of feminism all over the world and it is important that we are proud to honour this.”

“I think our world could benefit from embracing feminine energy, it would encourage women to just be themselves without changing a single thing. Let them continue to work hard and be respected in what they love to do.”

Aeronautical engineer and Citizen Scientist Astronaut Candidate, Dr Norah Patten

“I have immensely enjoyed taking part in a number of the St Brigid's Day events, both in person and online, since the inaugural kickoff in 2018."

"The events were very much about highlighting and celebrating the creativity and achievements of women. As a mother of a baby girl and as a woman in STEM, I think this is important on many levels."

"In 2021, I was honoured to share the virtual stage with retired NASA astronaut Col. Cady Coleman, who is one quarter Irish on both parents’ sides, and two senior NASA scientists from Ireland, Dr. Valerie Connaughton and Dr. Julie McEnery.”

Irish traditional musician, uilleann piper and flute player, Louise Mulcahy

“By embracing feminine energy we can begin to see the world in a whole new light. Brigid is the unique link which can unite us in a special way. Embracing Brigid's qualities of compassion, courage and independence will allow us to challenge society and become catalysts for change.

St Brigid's Day is a unique and special opportunity to celebrate Irish women worldwide in all facets of life. A day to reflect and embrace compassion, courage, love and respect – qualities synonymous with Brigid."

"This special day will allow us to reawaken our creative energy and join Irish communities worldwide in celebrating Brigid, mná na hÉireann and our unique voice."

"We will celebrate Irish women past, present and future around the world and raise awareness of the importance of returning women to the historical, present and future narrative.”

Fiddle player and composer, Zoë Conway

“I think St Brigid's Day will bring a focus for men and women alike on the positive feminine energy that surrounds, permeates and intertwines all our lives, and gives us an excuse to appreciate those qualities of stillness, renewal and compassion associated with St Brigid.

Every year, spring starts here with the collecting of rushes in the hedgerows of Cooley, and watching my father-in-law crafting complex diamond crosses out of them makes me imagine a hand reaching directly into our ancient past.

"I think people in Ireland this year more than ever before, are embracing our culture, our language and our music, and our quiet confidence is allowing us to create a more inclusive and caring society.”

Jewellery designer and goldsmith, Martina Hamilton

“I think St Brigid's Day, with its pre-Christian and Christian resonances, provides us with an opportunity to re-embrace and celebrate a culture that goes back many thousands of years. Each year we have traditional cultural touchstones which are familiar and joyful expressions of who we are. "

"I think the addition of St Brigid's Day, of what Brigid represents, gives us a new paradigm, a renewing way of understanding and embracing the depth of who we are as an evolving culture. My hopes and expectations are that St Brigid's Day as a new national holiday, one that is on a unique footing, affords us all time and peace and the inspiration to see in a renewed way all that we have to value, appreciate and share as a nation.”

Fashion designer and artist, Helen Steele

“I think our world would benefit from feminine energy. It’s a flowing energy that’s led by the heart. It is an emotionally intelligent and sympathetic energy, that is creative and calming all at once.”

“I would hope that St Brigid’s Day would be a day that is a celebration of Irish culture and the arts. Especially the creative arts – music, dance, theatre, fashion and craft – that are currently being produced in Ireland.”

Consultant paediatric neurosurgeon, Children's Health Ireland at Temple Street Children’s University Hospital, Tafadzwa Mandiwanza

“My hopes for St Brigid’s Day are that we continue to recognise it, as we’ve started to do. But I would hope to see more cultural events led by women that my own daughters can attend, to build that sense of pride in being a woman, for them.”

“I think your stereotypical healer or in the medical realm, when you think of a healer or a doctor most people envisage a man in a white coat so I think it’s excellent that we have St Brigid as a female example of healing."

"I think it’s very important that young girls get to see someone who looks like me in that role and it becomes the norm that women are represented as healers in everyday life.”
Poet, performer and playwright, FELISPEAKS

Poet, performer and playwright, FELISPEAKS

“The significance of St Brigid as a patron saint and as a goddess to me is, firstly, exciting. It’s exciting that a lot of Irish folklore is part of our everyday language or an annual part of our language."

"I think it’s really exciting to have a goddess that is honoured through our creativity, through our experiences as women or individuals, honouring our feminine energy.”

“I would hope that St Brigid’s Day wouldn’t just be about marking the day, I think it’d be more inspiring if we take all these things into our daily lives and beyond the day – that we have more respect for women, that we look out for the femininity in ourselves even as individuals, that we care more about how we interact with each other as individuals – with a lot more grace. That would be the ideal thing, that it’s not just about the day, it’s about our lives and improving them significantly.”