"A fascinating insight into Ireland's ancient burial sites" - Irish Independent
Brigid's Way Celtic Pilgrimage and alignment
The Brigid's Way Celtic Pilgrimage connects two places sacred to the Tuatha Dé Danann goddess, and later saint, Brigid. As a saint, Brigid was said to have been born at Faughart near Dundalk, and founded her monastery in Kildare. It was during research for Island of the Setting Sun: In Search of Ireland's Ancient Astronomers that a fascinating alignment was originally partly discovered.
Brigid's Way pilgrims walking down from Brigid's Well at Faughart on the first day of the inaugural pilgrimage, led by Karen Ward and Dolores Whelan. See more pictures from the inaugural pilgrimage on this page.
At that time, Richard Moore and I became curious about the arrival of Saint Patrick, and why in particular he chose the Hill of Slane to light the Paschal Fire. Richard had noticed that when he was on the Hill of Tara, looking forward Hill of Slane, the more distant hill of Mount Oriel, near Collon, seemed to sit in direct alignment with Tara and Slane.
We found that at the time Patrick lit the fire on Slane in March 433AD, the constellation Cygnus was rising over Slane. The symbolism was stark. The new fire of Christianity, whose main symbol was the cross, was being announced at a profound cosmic moment. But there was more to this alignment, as I would later discover.
While researching for the second edition of Island of the Setting Sun, I found that extending the line to the north brought it all the way to Faughart, and exactly to a well in the graveyard on top of the hill dedicated to Brigid. Extending the line in the other direction, I found it stretched all the way to The Curragh, which is very strongly associated with Saint Brigid as the place where she put down her cloak and it magically covered the whole plain. On its way from Faughart to the Curragh, the alignment passes precisely through some other ancient sites as well, as shown in the video below.
In 2012 I gave a talk about the Brigid alignment in Dundalk, which was attended by, among others, Dolores Whelan, who runs a Brigid of Faughart festival every year, and another woman called Karen Ward, who runs the Slí an Chroí centre in Dublinn with her husband John. So fascinated were Dolores and Karen by the alignment and its amazing precision, they decided to found a new Celtic pilgrimage, following the route from Faughart to Kildare. They call it 'Brigid's Way', and it has been dubbed the 'Irish Camino'.
The first pilgrimage along the route took place in July 2013, and people from Ireland, the United States and even Australia took part, over a period of nine days. The inaugural pilgrimage coincided with some of the best summer weather experienced in Ireland for many years, with a heat wave and temperatures in the late 20s on every day of the walk. It was a profound experience for some of the people who took part. The main aim of the pilgrimage is to awaken and reinvigorate the divine feminine and bring some balance to the current situation in Ireland, which can only be described as challenging on many levels.