The Bottom Line
- Ancient site dedicated to the "Mary of the Gael", still used for worship today.
- Very spiritual place.
- Allows a glimpse into Irish Christianity.
- Ultimately you feel the atmosphere of the place - or you simply don't.
- Spring and well that might have been places of worship long before Christian times.
- Dedicated to Brigid, pagan goddess and/or local saint.
- Converted into a small park to facilitate visitors, but still retaining an aura of ancient spirituality.
Guide Review - Saint Brigid's Well (near Kildare Town, County Kildare)
Brigid is an interesting character - supposedly converted by Saint Patrick himself she threw herself into ecclesiastical life with abandon. To prevent marriage she disfigured herself, though her use of a female "bed-warmer" may suggest an ulterior motive. She than became abbess of a mixed monastery in Kildare, even rising to the rank of bishop. Veneration and sainthood followed, with an eternal fire being lit and nourished by her disciples. Add the fact that there was a pagan goddess named Brigantia bearing a strong resemblance one starts to wonder ...
This will not cease during a visit to the Holy Well dedicated to Brigid, just a few miles south of Kildare Town. At the end of a narrow country lane and not blessed with to many parking spaces, this is a miniature park these days. An enclosed spring feeds a short underground stream, this in turn bursting through a gateway of stone and then winding past a bronze statue of Brigid herself. Bearing a crosier, wearing a cross, sporting a perm and holding a flame. Take the crosses away and you might be at a pagan site of worship. Which the well might have been.
Even today a strange mixture of conventional Christian worship and folk customs mark the place - you are encouraged to say prayers at the stations (stones marking the underground stream) by a sign far less obvious than the offerings or tokens tied to a tree nearby. Again showing some strange influences, with dream-catchers swaying in the breeze ...