(L-R) Jean McDonald, Ambassador of Ireland to Luxembourg; Geoff Thompson, ICL President;

While Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated world-wide on 17 March each year, a public holiday in Ireland since 1903, what is less well-known is that Saint Patrick is just one of Ireland's three patron saints, Saint Brigid and Saint Columba being the other two.

Saint Brigid

In 2024, Ireland is marking the 1,500th anniversary of Saint Brigid's passing with a special programme of events nationwide. Saint Brigid was born around the year 451 AD, just north of Dundalk, County Louth. During her life, she was an early Irish Christian nun, abbess and founder of many monasteries.

Saint Brigid's Day (Lá Fhéile Bríde)

Saint Brigid's Day is the first Bank Holiday granted in commemoration of an Irish female patron saint. In 2022, an extra day off was introduced as a tribute to health workers and to remember those who died from COVID-19: 2023 saw a new permanent Bank Holiday in honour of Saint Brigid. While Saint Brigid's Day falls on 1 February, the public holiday is held on the following Monday.

Saint Brigid's Cross

A Saint Brigid's Cross is woven from straw or rushes and is typically woven on 1 February. Hanging a Saint Brigid's cross from the rafters of one's house was believed to bring the blessing and protection of the saint for the remainder of the year. The practice of crafting Brigid's crosses declined in the 20th century, however. In addition to the shamrock and the Celtic harp, the Saint Brigid's cross is a national symbol of Ireland.

Saint Brigid's Day in Luxembourg

The Irish Community in Luxembourg celebrated Saint Brigid's Day with two events.

First, on Wednesday 31 January, the Ambassador of Ireland to Luxembourg, Jean McDonald, held an event at Ciné Utopia in Luxembourg-Limpertsberg which was attended by around 80 people, including the British Ambassador to Luxembourg, Fleur Thomas, and the US Ambassador to Luxembourg, Thomas Barrett, and his wife. Also attending were members of the Irish community in Luxembourg and friends of Ireland.

Ambassador McDonald addressed those attending, explaining that it was the first embassy-led Saint Brigid's Day event to be held in Luxembourg. She added that 1 February is officially the first day of spring in Ireland. She went on to say that the Irish government has increased the visibility of Saint Brigid's Day in recent years.

She introduced the short 50-minute film Wave Goodbye to Dinosaurs, the story of the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition, a women's political party formed in 1996. She explained how it contributed to the Good Friday Agreement and the Irish peace process.

On Thursday 1 February, the Irish Club of Luxembourg (ICL) held a Saint Brigid's Day Dinner at Eirelux in Luxembourg-Howald, the second year in succession it held such an event. Around 40 members and friends attended, with club president Geoff Thompson welcoming everyone and Ambassador McDonald saying a few words before the meal.