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Educate Together Blog

St Patrick V St Brigid

Fionnuala Ward, Primary Education Officer
Teacher Calendar
For the past couple of years, I've put together a Teacher Calendar highlighting the main religious festivals as well as general days of interest that teachers may or may not be aware of. These days fit nicely into the Learn Together e.g. World Refugee Day, Fairtrade Fortnight, Tree Week etc.
The calendar has to reflect the six main world religions, as fairly or as near to fairly as possible, and there isn’t really room for two Irish saint days. To date, I've never included St Patrick’s Day and have opted for St Brigid’s Day instead.
And this year, I was specifically asked why, which got me thinking.
Let me state straight away that I have nothing against St Patrick's Day or St Patrick himself although I HATE that awful diddly- ieness that tends to rear its ugly head around this time of the year. Seachtain na Gaeilge is great, though, and kids and staff dressing up in green is the way it should be.
But let’s face it, St Patrick doesn't need any help from me in getting his name out there. He sanctions a day off all on his own, the river in Chicago is dyed in his honour and this past year numerous iconic buildings, including the pyramids in Giza, were bathed in green light, just to mark his day. So I think it's fair to say he's doing just fine, profile-wise.
Now, St Brigid isn't exactly struggling but she hasn't yet been commemorated at Niagara Falls or the Sydney Opera House. And she doesn't come armed with a work-free 24 hours. So, I say, let's hear it for Brigid!  She heralds the first day of Spring, inaugurated a really nice (and classroom friendly!) cross and, according to a friend and Brigid aficionado, has contributed greatly to public health by ensuring that the owners of all scarves capturing the first drops of dew on February 1st (some abandonment of scarves outdoors the night before being in order), enjoy a coughless and sore throatless year ahead.
Can Patrick beat that?
Let me finish by recalling a trip in a taxi a few years ago, when the driver informed me, in no uncertain terms, that St Patrick’s Day was early this year. Ok, some confusion with Easter was clearly happening there but if ever I hear a comment, similar or otherwise, with regard to St Brigid, I will happily switch allegiances on the spot.
My work will have been done.
Address: Educate Together, Equity House, 16/17 Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin 7, Ireland - Charity Number: CHY 11816