The decision to introduce a new public holiday from 2023 to mark St Brigid’s Day and the Gaelic festival of Imbolc on 1st February is a historic and much welcome development, according to Minister of State and Kildare South TD Martin Heydon.
Minister Heydon said: “I have campaigned for recognition of Brigid of Kildare for many years, along with the Brigidine sisters in Kildare, and the many people who are passionate about recognising St. Brigid with a public holiday.
“I’m delighted as Kildare’s Government Minister to have been able to play my part to see this vision finally become a reality. This decision is also historic as it will mark the first public holiday in honour of an Irish female figure.
“With a once off public holiday this year on 18 March 2022 to mark our journey through the pandemic, we can use the time ahead to plan for a successful introduction of the permanent date to celebrate Brigid from 2023 onwards. The public holiday will fall on the closest Monday to 1st February, except when it falls on a Friday when the Public Holiday will be on the Friday.
“Brigid of Kildare, a patron saint of Ireland, and the goddess Brigid, a powerful deity, are fitting figures which deserve to be celebrated. They represent strong Irish women and have links to both our Celtic and Christian traditions and the Gaelic feast day of Imbolc on 1 February celebrates the start of spring.
“In Kildare, where there is an intrinsic link to St Brigid, work is already underway on plans for Brigid 1500 in 2024. This will mark 1,500 years since Brigid’s death and the addition of a new public holiday to coincide with the date will provide a massive boost for the economy as we plan towards this international celebration.
“February has been one of only four months in the year which does not have a public holiday. This new public holiday will bridge the considerable length of time between existing holidays in December and March and bring a welcome boost to the tourism sector at a traditionally quiet time.
“Whether it is the saint or the goddess, there is a Brigid there for everyone and from 2023 we will have the opportunity to celebrate her.”