Devotion to St Brigid, one of our national patrons, is of ancient origin and would seem to have begun during her lifetime. Brigid’s cult grew to a status second only to that of Patrick, and to the Irish she was known as Mary of the Gael.
According to tradition, Brigid was born at Fochard Muirtheimne, a few miles north of Dundalk about 450 AD. Because of the strength of this tradition, the place was later known as Fochard Bríde.
It is believed that Brigid spent her early years in this scenic area of north Co Louth, and the ancient penitential ‘stations’ linked with St Brigid’s Stream have been performed here from ancient times. The original shrine remained largely in a primitive condition until the early 1930s, when the present shrine was erected by local labour and a national pilgrimage organised.
On the first Sunday in July 1934, an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 assembled at Faughart. This great congregation included Eamonn de Valera, several Ministers of State, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, and several members of Dublin Corporation.
Today pilgrims visit Fochard Bríde daily. Public pilgrimages are held during the year, a candlelight procession takes place on the Saint’s feast day (1 February), a Mass for the Sick is celebrated in early June and there is a national pilgrimage on the first weekend in July. At public pilgrimages the pilgrims are blessed with a relic of the saint.