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Ireland establishes public holiday for female patron, St. Brigid


Lawrence OP | Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

J-P Mauro - published on 01/22/22

St. Brigid has become the first Irish female figure to be so honored with a public holiday.
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The feast day of Ireland’s female patron saint will be celebrated with a state holiday starting in 2023. Irish officials announced this week that February 1 will be known as St. Brigid’s Day. News of the new observance comes as Ireland also plans a one-off holiday to honor the efforts of medical workers through the world pandemic. 

St. Brigid of Kildare

According to Crux Now, Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin had long called for St. Brigid to be so honored. Bishop Nulty’s diocese is rich with the saint’s history, as she founded her largest monastic settlement in Kildare. Along with Ireland, St. Brigid is also the patron saint of 32 peoples and professions, including poetry, learning, healing, protection, blacksmithing, livestock and dairy production

St. Brigid’s Day, which coincides with the Irish reckoning of the first day of spring, will see all public buildings closed. Minister of State Martin Heydon said of the new holiday in a statement

“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 recognizing 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 honor of an Irish female figure.”

Irish holidays

Martin went on to note that the February 1 date will bridge the long gap between public holidays in December and St. Patrick’s Day in March. Until now, there had been no Irish holiday in February. He also explained that the move comes in preparation of the 1,500-year anniversary of St. Brigid’s death, in 2024

Irish Catholic reports that St. Brigid’s Day was not the only public holiday Ireland added in 2022. Ireland has announced that this year’s St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, will be extended through March 18. The second day of the festivities will be to honor frontline healthcare workers who have braved the world pandemic for several years now. Along with the day off, healthcare workers will also receive a €1,000 tax free bonus from the state. 

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