This year, for the first time, Ireland holds an official holiday to honour Brigid – a woman of peace and a carer for the planet. In our 30th Féile Bríde conference, we proclaim her message of peace and protection at a time when it needs urgently to be seen clearly and followed faithfully. We celebrate her love of nature and care for our planet, along with the example of her giving away her father’s sword to a poor man looking for food; vital, and closely linked, messages for today’s troubled world.
We also honoured the women – past and present – who have lived, and today live out, Brigid’s message; the Brigidines and Cairde Bríde, who have kept her flame burning for three decades in Kildare; the great anti-war campaigner and advocate for the rights of workers, especially women, Louie Bennett, who named her house ‘St Brigid’s’; Nobel Peace Prize winner Máiréad Maguire and Adi Roche, whose wonderful compassionate campaigning for the child victims of Chernobyl, speaks to our hearts as war rages in that region today.
Whilst many leaders in Ireland and worldwide seem to have abandoned the pursuit of peace for the drumbeats of war, we will continue to sound the siren of peace and refuse to accept the twisted ‘logic’ of violence. As the cost of war and weaponry has surpassed $2 trillion for the first time and as the Irish Government actively promotes a weapons industry (as if we need more weapons in the world!), we will keep stressing the urgent need to disarm for development, for welfare not warfare; for housing and healthcare rather than arms fairs.
How can we tolerate the obscenity of millions living in poverty and hunger, while governments waste billions on weapons of death? Brigid’s gesture towards the poor man seeking alms remains more relevant than ever, today.