Just a short drive from Dundalk, visit one of County Louth’s iconic sites, Saint Brigid’s Shrine at Faughart.
Tradition holds that Faughart, is the birthplace of Ireland’s iconic matron saint Brigid. The Annals of Ulster record St. Brigid as being born in 452 and the five Latin Lives of St. Brigid contain lists of miracles carried out by the saint in a life dedicated to God and helping the poor, needy and oppressed. St. Brigid is strongly associated with healing, fertility, poetry, care of the land and animals, abundance and the coming of Spring. The saint has the same name as the pre-Christian Goddess Brigid, meaning ‘exalted one’ in old Irish, and described as a goddess of poets, woman of wisdom, protector of the land and source of new life and re-birth at springtime.
In 1934 Faughart was chosen by Cardinal Mac Rory as the National Shrine of St. Brigid for the whole of Ireland. The first national pilgrimage took place on the first Sunday of July 1934 with an attendance of 10,000 people, including two Irish presidents, Eamon de Valera and T.K O’Reilly.
The Shrine is a place of tranquil beauty. A series of modern Stations of the Cross run along Sruth Bhríde, St. Brigid’s Stream, from the upper part of the Shrine, through a beautiful glade of towering beech trees and across the road to the lower part of the Shrine. This is where you will find the very ancient stone stations, which are believed to have healing powers. These include the Head Stone, the Knee Stone, the Waist Stone and the Back Stone.
The Shrine attracts thousands of visitors throughout the year and an annual candle light procession runs from the nearby Hill of Faughart down to St. Brigid’s Shrine on her Feast Day, 1st February. This was also the ancient Celtic Festival of Imbolc, the start of Spring in the Celtic calendar.
Just a few kilometres south of the Shrine, the imposing Romanesque style Kilcurry Church contains a small piece of skull believed to be a relic of St. Brigid, brought back from Lisbon in 1903 by Sr. Mary Agnes McAlister of the Mercy Convent, Dundalk; herself a native of Faughart.
Since 2023 a Public Holiday takes place in Ireland each February in honour of St. Brigid. The year 2024 marks the 1500th anniversary of the Saint’s death and this trailblazing holy woman will be celebrated all over Ireland and further afield with events throughout the year.
Saint Brigid's holy well is also a popular place of pilgrimage and is located nearby at Old Faughart Graveyard on the historic Hill of Faughart Find out more here.