Make St Brigid’s Day a public holiday

31st January 2021 - Martin Heydon TD

Saint Brigid’s Day on February 1st should be considered as a new Public Holiday in Ireland to bridge the gap between existing holidays and to mark the first day of Spring, a Fine Gael Minister has said.

Minister of State Martin Heydon has submitted a proposal to Government to make St Brigid’s Day a new public holiday for future years, which could in some way recognize the enormous sacrifices made by Irish people during the Covid pandemic and highlight better times ahead.

Minister Heydon, who represents Kildare South, said, “We all remember the annual making of St Brigid crosses from our school days. Her feast day on February 1st marks the first day of Spring and it is the season when we celebrate hope and new life on earth.”

Minister Heydon has sent his submission to the Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Tourism Minister Catherine Martin.

“Ireland currently has nine public holidays each year, one every month with the exception of February, July and September. In its Tourism Recovery Plan 2020-23, the Tourism Recovery Taskforce points out that the number of public holidays in Ireland is below that of other European Countries such as Spain (12 annual public holidays) and France (13).

“In line with their recommendation that any additional public holidays should be considered during an off-peak season to help create additional short term domestic demand and to extend the tourist season,  a new public holiday on February 1st would bridge the considerable length of time between existing public holidays on January 1st and March 17th.

“It also would bring a welcome boost to the Tourism sector during what is traditionally a quiet time for visitors, and when people can holiday once again after the pandemic.

“Brigid, considered a patron saint of Ireland, held a unique position in the early Irish church. Scholars tell us that she presided over the local church of Kildare and was head of a double monastery for men and women.

“She challenged both men and women today to create a church and a society where man and women are equally respected. At a time when all sectors of our society are working together to ensure equality for all in our country, St Brigid was ahead of her time in this regard.

“Visitors already come to Kildare from all over the world seeking to walk in Brigid’s footsteps. From this perspective, I see many opportunities for increased tourism opportunities linked with an increase in the celebration of St Brigid in Ireland and around the world, focused around a new public holiday.

“I believe this would also be a very fitting way to recognise the sacrifices of the Irish people during the Covid pandemic and highlight the hope ahead made more significant by confirming a new annual public holiday on February 1st to mark St. Brigid’s day but also the first day of Spring and hope for the coming years,” Minister Heydon concluded.

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