Launch of ‘Brigid, Our Spirit Stirring’

A new film created by older people from Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Mayo, Monaghan and Sligo, with artist Marie Brett, launches February 1st, 2023. ‘Brigid, Our Spirit Stirring’ captures the creative outputs of an Age & Opportunity art project carried out in these six counties in partnership with Age Friendly Ireland and funded by the Creative Ireland Programme. See a promo of the film here.

The project explored past and future views of Brigid and her transformative relationship to the Irish people. Participants worked with Marie in a series of craft and poetry workshops. They produced hand-crafted artefacts such as Brigid-style crosses, protective God’s eyes, masks, hats and Brídeóga. These were brought together for a final pageant event held at the National Museum of Ireland, Country Life, in Mayo. Participants paraded their creations in a procession inspired by traditional ritual and holy pilgrimage. 

‘Brigid, Our Spirit Stirring’ was filmed at the pageant event.

The film is being launch at W8 Centre, Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim on Brigid’s Day, 1st February at 12 noon. Creators and performers from the six counties who feature in the film will attend. They will once again create Brigid’s crosses and make Brídeóga dolls, this time with Helena Golden, the ‘Willow Woman’, from Leitrim. Attendees will step through the Brigid’s Girdle while saying a personal prayer for protection during the year ahead. The film is available to watch online from 1st February on the Age & Opportunity YouTube channel.

Karen Horgan, CEO Age & Opportunity, said: “This project has connected older people from the North West in a uniquely creative and celebratory way around the theme of Brigid, both Goddess and Saint. As an organisation that aims to enable the best quality of life for us all as we age, where we can be more active, more visible, more creative, more connected and more confident, we are delighted to have worked in partnership with Age Friendly Ireland and artist Marie Brett.”

Lead artist Marie Brett said: “It was such an enriching, creative experience to make this work, with so much elder knowledge. Together we combined pilgrimage tradition, Biddy Boys (which we’ve re-named Biddy-Girls) and Brídeóg custom, with thinking surrounding natural world learning, Celtic pathways, and elemental forces.

“‘Brigid, Our Spirit Stirring’ is a digital fusion of a contemporary live event that reimagines collective and cross-generational folk custom. I loved creating this work; the contributors created beautiful, evocative poems and gorgeous processional artefacts.” 

Mairead Cranley, Age Friendly North Regional Manager, said: “Following consultations with older people in the North Region, we knew they wanted to explore traditions associated with St Brigid. This project was creative, colourful, and everyone got active. Age Friendly Ireland are always looking at ways to enhance the lives of older people and improve their quality of life. Participating in creative projects like this will be of huge benefit to them.”

Feedback from project participants included the following comments: 

“I didn’t know I’d be able for making such lovely things.”

“The materials are lovely.” [straw was one of the main materials used]

“It was lovely to see new place and to meet new people.” 

The project came about due to funding provided by Creative Ireland to Age Friendly Ireland for the delivery of regional creative initiatives for older people in the context of supporting health and wellbeing. Following a call for proposals, Age & Opportunity’s proposal with artist Marie Brett was selected for the North Region.