This year’s Féile Bríde notice comes to you with the unsurprising news that we will not be able to gather this February in the lovely surrounds of Solas Bhríde in Kildare. We will miss the fáilte and the hospitality that we’ve experienced from our Brigidine friends and Cáirde Bríde, there – and elsewhere in Kildare – every year since our first event, Brigid, Prophetess, Earthwoman, Peacemaker, back in 1993.
But we are living through unprecedented times – when lockdowns, social distancing and masked faces have become nearly as familiar and frequent as rain! This has been a time of great upheaval and distress for many people – especially those who’ve been sick or isolated or who have lost loved ones. And our thoughts are with these people at this time. But, of course there have been examples of great generosity and courage on display too from frontline workers and others. We thank them and we salute them for their fortitude and kindness.
We are hoping that the pause that we’ve all been forced to take will result in a re-evaluation and a realisation of the really important things in life – family, friends, and community – at both local and global level – and of course the welfare of our precious planet itself.
We need hope to carry us through this time to a better place. As the days lengthen and the promise of spring beckons – our reasons for hope increase. The tiny snowdrop peeking through the cold clay is a sign of hope, of growth, of determination and of resilience!
And so is Féile Bríde – much of which will take place online this year. (See www.solasbhride.ie). Afri’s Féile Bríde Gathering will also be online – which might seem strange but then again we even managed to have our Famine Walk online in 2020!
Please join us if you can – to hear a range of inspiring speakers, activists, musicians and poets! If you are not familiar with accessing online events perhaps a family member or friend (in your social bubble) would help you to join us on the day. We would love to ‘see’ familiar names and faces there – (as well as new ones!) even if only virtually!
Meantime we are already looking forward to 2022 and our 30th gathering when we will enjoy the chat over lunch, the music, the speakers and planting a tree or more to celebrate that special occasion.
Dee Armstrong plays fiddle, viola, hammered dulcimer and percussion. Since 1991 she has been a member of Kíla, Ireland’s most celebrated world music band. During lockdown, Dee has written and recorded new music with her son Lughaidh, a talented musician, songwriter and a rising star.
Gareth Conlon, Karen Jeffares & Síolta Chroí
Síolta Chroí was brought together by Gareth and Karen in 2019. Both have volunteered and worked in the areas of social justice, global citizenship education, human rights, and environmental justice for many years. In more recent years, they have been exploring healing practices such as yoga, meditation, different forms of trauma healing, permaculture, organic farming, and self-care as tools for social change. These experiences have shaped them and have shaped the space that they are creating in Monaghan together with their daughter Lily
“Siolta Chroi is our offering for a better world, one that puts care for each other and wider nature at the centre – we want to provide a space where solutions and proposals for new ways of being can be created, sown and spread. We want to do this in community and with others and have opened our home and this space up to the people who have joined us in this cooperative to work together for a brighter future.”
Sinéad Fortune joined the Gaia Foundation in 2019 to manage the Seed Sovereignty UK & Ireland programme, where she works with coordinators to support community groups, market gardeners and farmers to train in seed production. Her academic background in Political Ecology focused on food security and community empowerment, and her diverse professional experience spans community food movements, alternative sustainable food production, science education and behaviour change.
Ruairí McKiernan is a campaigner, podcast host and bestselling author of Hitching for Hope. Ruairí previously founded the SpunOut.ie national youth information website, and served 7 years on the Council of State as one of President Higgins’ appointees. He is also a founding member of the Uplift organisation. He hosts the Love and Courage podcast and the Creative Souls of Clare podcast. www.ruairimckiernan.com
Pete Mullineaux lives in Galway He is a writer and educator, teaching global issues through drama and poetry. Afri recently published a second book written by Pete entitled ‘Interdependence Day’ – Teaching the Sustainable Development Goals through Drama for All Ages. He has published four poetry collections, most recently How to Bake a Planet. In 2020 he published a political science fiction novel, Jules and Rom that offers a futuristic take on Shakespeare’s timeless play, exploring and engaging with global issues such as war and climate change.
Sikhulekile Ruth Ndlovu. Ruth is a third year Accounting and Finance student at the University of Limerick. She is a Zimbabwean and has recently come through the asylum-seeking process in Ireland. She is the leader of the Restart Initiative which works to help asylum seekers integrate into local communities. The group is run through the Enactus group at UL. She looks forward to a time when Direct Provision is ended and integration is the norm in Irish society.
Grace Wells was born in London in 1968, and moved to rural Tipperary in 1991. Nature, spirit of place and ecological concern have been large themes in her writing ever since the publication of her debut children’s novel Gyrfalcon (O’Brien Press, 2002). Her debut poetry collection When God has been Called Away to Greater Things (Dedalus Press, 2010), won the Rupert and Eithne Strong Best First Collection Award. With her second poetry collection Fur (Dedalus Press, 2015), Wells moved more deeply into eco-poetics and eco-feminism. In 2018 she moved to County Clare, which has informed her new work with a coastal, marine light. She is currently working on her third collection, Home, a meditation on belonging within culture, body, self and nature in our era of ecological crisis.
RoJ Whelan is a former Irish international cricket player, musician and filmmaker based in Dublin. His organisation ‘The Art of Peaceful Revolution’ has been involved in award-winning documentaries and his band ‘The RoJ LiGht’ have played with many well-known Irish acts. They have recently released their second album ‘Sacred Moods’.