Pilgrimage to Kildare, Chapter V, Wounded and Weary in Kildare

May 20, 2022

 That morning I bid farewell to Gronya and Dave and walked the remaining 7 miles to Kildare. By then I had learnt St Brigids prayer by heart and as I recited it over I noticed how fitting was my condition. ‘Brigid, you were a voice for the wounded and weary’, both wounded and weary I certainly was…  
As a congratulatory reward to myself, I booked a self-contained Airbnb for my two nights in Kildare. After putting down my bags, I raced out to the town to have a look around. First I found the high walled Anglican Cathedral which was all locked up. I was told that it would be open the next day so I didn’t mind waiting. Next I found a Carmalites church that was open, and here I went inside to thank Blessed Mary for getting me to Kildare safely (little did I know this extraordinary adventure wasn’t over yet). By now I had come to know that the reeds I had been carrying where the extra large type, so I decided to go in search of the smaller variety. My landlady had given me some direction of where I might find some and on the way I passed St Brigids Parish Catholic Church where mass was just finishing.
I popped inside to chat to the priest and met Father Andy who was a great guy. He even knew Father Stephen's from St Patricks Church that I had taken refuge in Slane. Amazingly he felt to gift the pilgrimage a newly made and already blessed St Brigids cross that he had received earlier that day.  I continued to the field that my landlady had advised I would find the reed, but alas I could not find any. I started to worry slightly as the sun had started to set (and it wasn’t even the season for reeds anyway). But soon I stopped to ask another lady if she knew where some reeds might grow. and she very kindly drove me down to a bog behind St Brigids well. After getting my feet soaked again and getting paniky lost, I finally found enough reeds to make the journey back home. It was close to 9.00pm and I stayed up until 11.00pm making crosses – what fun I had.

The next morning, after a cup of tea in bed and a cooked breakfast to get me started, my first mission was in St Brigids Parish Church. I intended to give the crosses some sort of ceremonial light blessing, since She (Brigid) was the keeper of the ‘eternal flame’. My idea was to light a candle to symbolically bring the spirit of St Brigid from Kildare back to London. After Mass I took the little blessed cross Father Andy had gifted and lit a candle and prayed the St Brigids prayer over it.        
I had been told that the Anglican Cathedral would be open by 11.00am and with the Bishop in attendance the service was going to be a ‘long one’. By mid-day it was raining again so I delayed in good faith that I would have plenty of time to do what I needed at the fire pit. I wouldn’t be attending the service, so my plan was to first visit the grounds, complete the fire ceremony and perhaps pop in to visit the Cathedral once the congregation had left. By 1.00pm the rain had finally stopped. I gathered up the second cross, glass jar, candle and matches and headed out. As I reached the cathedral, to my surprise I saw that the service had finished and folk were already leaving. I even passed the vicar on his way out! I decided to go and quickly find the ancient fire pit and perform the light ceremony for the other cross.

I must have stayed only 20 minutes but upon my departure, I found that the Cathedral was now locked and so too were the tall entrance gates; leaving me locked inside! Now, I am not a stranger to the business of climbing over walls, so I desperately ran about looking for a way over. But alas it was just all too high. After some poking about near a shed in the shrub area, I saw some familiar Haris fencing and a convenient slant of wood allowing me to scale it safely and drop to freedom into a kids playground phew.

Feeling elated at my new found freedom and having successfully completed my ceremonies, I decided to try my luck and pay a visit to Solas Bhride, a multi-faith centre set up by three Christian sisters, but which had been closed for many months due to Covid. The centre was a special place as it was home to a symbolic ‘eternal flame of Kildare’. The original flame that burned for centuries at the cathedral fire pit was extinguished during the reformation. But in 1993 the flame was symbolically re-lit in the town centre as a tourist attraction. Defiant that it should never go out again, the sisters re-lit a candle from this flame and have tended to it ever since.
On my way there I bumped into my landlady. She was doubtful the centre would be open but was happy to accompany me all the same. As we were taking a walk around the gardens, one of the sisters saw us and came out to welcome us in. Here we spent a peaceful time in silence and meditated around the ‘eternal’ flame.
After visiting the centre, I felt the missions in Kildare were now complete.


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