My work is a passion and intent to serve visitors to Ireland with an experience of Ireland rather than a tour.
Somehow, many tours embrace recent Irish history. By recent, I mean the last 300 to 400 years, the times of Cromwell, The Famine, The Troubles etc. Is this really the “sort of thing” that will truly provide a vacation that restores our spirit and energy?
Ireland, like most places in the world, has a heritage that goes back at least 6000 years, if we go back to the times when our hunter gather ancestors moved into a culture of settled communities and existence from farming. This change in culture called upon a change in spiritual relationships and faith in these relationships.
Somehow, Ireland is still a “place” where the spiritual relationships formed over 6000 years ago are still present in the heart of its landscape, quietly in the hearts of the people that live here, and very open to sharing with the people who visit here. Our travellers discover that the spiritual relationships of 6000 years or more, and through to this present day are equally valid today. We are not talking about pseudo faiths of paganism, witchery, druidism etc. which are seen to be opposing or opposite of the faiths of the people who visit here. Certainly we refer to the imagery of such things in story, yarns and even entertainment if this seems to have place and purpose on our journeys.
Serving as a guide to lead people to a few places where this experience can easily be embraced appears to have become my job.
Though my initial mission was to introduce travellers to the hidden abundant wonders of our Breifne region in north west Ireland, the travellers themselves had led me to places of heart, spirit, wonder and restoration outside of Breifne.
Away From The Tourist Boardwalk.
Often when a group leader approaches me to serve their group I am presented with a list that usually includes places like Newgrange, Cliffs of Moher, Ring of Kerry, Blarney Stone, Bunratty Castle, etc. These sites have their place and value. Visiting them provides fun and wonder, but they are busy places on the “tourist boardwalk” that is specifically funded and promoted by the Irish Government through the agencies they sponsor. I do not rate these as places of heart and experience for personal restoration and rewards of vacation. Therefore I offer group leaders alternatives that are similar to “look at” but being present at them is a more profound personal restoration experience.
…….. sometimes, group leaders lead me to places of profound experience, though.
An group from Australia, that I am currently serving is one good example.
For some time, I have wanted to include the experience of Cille Dara, Kildare, into a group tour. Most of the groups that I serve do actually include Kildare, but have arranged this part of the journey through other guides. This time I was going to be present!
For some time I have wanted to meet the Brigidine Sisters of Kildare, as part of a group.
The Brigidine Sisters were founded in 1807 with the intent of restoring the ancient order of Brigid. In 1992 they arrived in Kildare to re-connect with the roots of their guide, the spirit of Brigid and her ancient mission from Kildare.
They re-lit the “Flame of Brigid” in 1993 and have since offered to share the spirit of Brigid, or Bhride (pronounced “breed” or “bride”), as a “torch” for inspiring balance between men and women and the balance of the male and female spirits within us all. Through this inspiration of balance they believe we can participate in effective justice and reconciliation on a journey towards peace.
For most people, this is about excepting a guiding spirit that can move us into doing small things that collectively care for the earth, nurture its fertility and protect our environment. Also, its about excepting a guiding spirit that allows us to approach and connect with people with a spirit of justice, fairness, non discrimination and tolerance, all wonderful qualities to develop a unity of peace.
I also love a simple Brigidine Sisters motto that reads “creating the new, re-echoing the old”.
“Solas Bhride” is currently the name of the Kildare centre of the Brigidine Sisters.
The Kildare flame is currently cared for by Sisters Mary and Phil. I emailed and phoned “Solas Bhride” to see if one of the sisters may be available as a guide for Kildare for our visiting group from Australia.
Sister Mary was delighted to accept the request, and how symbolic this turned out to be.
We arrived, a group of 7 remarkable Australian women, with myself, making a group of 8, on the doorsteps of Solas Bhride on the morning of August 7th, expressed in Ireland as 7/8. Sister Mary was initially quite quick as sharing the symbolism of this numerology. A month earlier, on 7/7/2007, while celebrating 200 years since the founding of the Brigidine Sisters in 1807, note the 8 and 7 in that too, the Brigidine Sisters were awarded a plot of land to expand their mission to include a hermitage of cells for retreat and a small place of education.
We also discovered a close connection between the Brigidine Sisters, especially Mary, and Jenny of Brigit’s Garden in Co. Galway, another place that our current group will visit on their journey. Jenny has also experienced similar miracles to Mary that has allowed her to expand the size and spirit of the Brigit’s Garden that she is carer of.
Going further afield, we learned of the work and rapid expansion of the Brigidine Sisters in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea that are visiting group made an instant connection to. I am sure after our current experience journey they will return to Sydney, Australia with a calling to be a flame driven “Circle of Bhride” that will expand the glow and spirit of Brigid around Australia and beyond.
Sister Mary provides a wonderful centering guidance and though I seem to be making references to various women and their spirits here, Mary is eager to share that an important part of the sisters mission is to promote an equality and close spiritual relationship with men.
Mary’s guidance is in no way exclusive to women.
It is very open to men, even “all men” groups. Though Mary is a sacred sister and a precious light of guidance for any woman, she also dearly loves men, so men should never be afraid of approaching her for her Brigid guidance.
Part of Mary’s guiding spirit message is to encourage women to not only live and work with the spirit of Brigid for their new found freedom, courage and creativity but to share this with men. She also guides men on how to accept and be gifted from this sharing.
“Solas Bhride” is a wonderful centre of balance, a pivotal veil that encourages the flow between male and female, this world and the otherworld. I also found that being present in “Solas Bhride” there was a spirit of the spirits of olde merging with the new to show that time is actually an invention of mankind for convenience of measurement. “Solas Bridhe”, in the presence of Mary, seems to share the wisdom that past, present and future are all constantly on the same plain, in the same space. with no beginning or end, and perfectly portrayed by the symbol of a circle.
We will definitely encourage “Solas Bhride” as an essential part of any future Ireland experience vacation.
At present, Solas Bhride is very simple.
A lovely humble townhouse in a quiet street known as Dara Park, 14 Dara Park is the address. Inside, the house is an exceptional sanctuary inside and out. Arrange a meeting and guidance with the current sisters, Mary or Phil by sensing an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 045 522890 while in Ireland.
Interestingly, Sister Phil was in Sydney with other sisters there while our women of Sydney were being guided by Mary.
A donation of 10 euros per person is very welcome by the sisters, and I recommend this is worth more if your budget allows.
The is a wonderful accompanying guide book written by Mary’s actual sister, Rita Minehan, that will guide you around Kildare accompanied by suggested readings, poems and prayers you can read to yourself or share with others as you journey around the sacred spaces of Kildare. You can buy this book when you visit “Solas Bhride” or order it in advance from my web site under the books link.
The book is appropriately called “Rekindling The Flame” in the footsteps of Brigid Of Kildare.
The highlights for us were, joining our collective spirit at the ancient site of the hearth of flame by the cathedral, time by the Wayside Well of Healing, where the instant healing seemed to be expressed through an abundance of truly joyful laughter, and then some time of rest and reflection in and around the nearby “official” Brigid’s Well.
Finally, I must close this article with some news that gave me, and the others, some joy. As we arrived at Solas Bhride, there were balloons and a “congratulations” sign on Sister Mary’s door. She had just been awarded the “Kildare Person Of The Year” award.