St. Brigid, of Kildare

St. Brigid's Cloak

There are many stories about St. Brigid but none so famous of that of St. Brigid's Cloak.

The King of Leinster at the time suffered dreadfully from a terrible secret - 'he had the ears of an ass!' On hearing of the wonderful miracles performed by St. Brigid he invited her to his palace to see what could be done. The worthy Saint offered to help but asked for a 'bit of land' for her troubles. Now the King was very jealous of his land and was not about to see his kingdom broken up but Brigid only asked for a piece of her land that her cloak would cover. The King was truly pleased and agreed to the bargain - sure that was no great piece of land at all.

So Brigid fell to her knees in prayer and the King of Leinster fell into a deep sleep. When he awoke, well sure hadn't he the most beautiful ears any man ever had in Ireland. Truly he was delighted and Brigid returned home - a date being set for the King's visit to her Church at Kildare.

On the appointed day, the King of Leinster and his followers met with Brigid and her nuns at the edge of the town of Kildare (from Cill Dara meaning Church of the Oak, as Brigid had built her church under the shade of an Oak Tree). At the appointed time in fulfilment of the bargain the King called on Brigid to cast out her cloak. This she did and through the power of the Lord and her true devotion sure didn't the cloak spread and spread and kept spreading until it covered the land we still know today as St. Brigid's Pastures - The Curragh of Kildare. Needless to say the King was not too happy that he had been outwitted by Brigid but he kept to his side of the bargain and returned home.

Another version of the story says that for many many weeks previously, St Brigid and her nuns had stitched and sewed and stitched and sewed - joining all their cloaks together and at the appointed time they rolled out this gigantic new cloak over the Curragh and that is how St. Brigid got the land.

Rathbride and 'the wart-stone'

It is said that the ends of St. Brigid's lands were marked with four large crosses - in other words there were crosses at the four corners of the Curragh. There are no crosses left standing today but there is a large stone at Rathbride (Brigid's Rath or Rath Bhride) Cross on the Kildare to Milltown Road - it is said that this is the base of an old Christian cross and indeed may have been the base of one of the fabled crosses which marked out Brigid's territory. The stone is rough on top and water gathers in the holes and hollows and locals believed that this stone had miraculous powers. If you suffered from warts then you placed the afflicted area (usually the hand) into the water gathered on top of the stone and you would be cured. I'm sure people would also take the water and apply to other areas also. This stone is still known as 'The Wart-stone.'

Loughminane or Loch Leamnachta

Eighteen Bishops came to Kildare and Brigid and her nuns had to cater for their needs. Brigid asked her cook Blaithnait if there was enough milk but Blaithnait said there wasn't as she had already milked the cows. Brigid fell to her knees in prayer and an angel appeared and told her to milk the cows again. When they milked the cows the milk filled all the tubs they had brought and it is said they could have filled all the vessels in Leinster. The milk spilled over the tops of the vessels and created a loch or lake and for ever after the place was known as Loch Leamnachta or 'lake of the new milk.'

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