Faughart NS children in
St Brigid’s Cross workshop

IT was a case of all hands on deck when children from Faughart national school took part in a workshop at the school to learn the art of making a St Brigid’s Cross.

IT was a case of all hands on deck when children from Faughart national school took part in a workshop at the school to learn the art of making a St Brigid’s Cross.

St Brigid’s cross-making is a tradition the school has held dear for many years and all students are actively encouraged to participate.

The children’s school workshop kick-started a weeklong initiative of cross-making, before St Brigid’s Feast Day on 1 February when the crosses are available to buy at the shrine with proceeds going towards the school.

‘It’s something we enjoy doing every year and the children have a wonderful time learning how to make the crosses,’ said Mrs Cumiskey, acting school principal.

‘Everyone helps out, even the junior infants. There are a lot of crosses to be made, so the more hands the better.

‘We’re fortunate that there are so many members of our community who are skilled at making these crosses,’ said a spokesperson from the school’s Parents Association.

Every year it’s a real community effort with rushes being sourced and delivered by the trailer

load to the school by volunteers, where they are sorted, trimmed and prepared for being turned into the beautiful, distinctive crosses.

‘It’s quite fiddly at first,’ a parent admitted, ‘but you soon get the hang of it. The children pick it up quiet quickly – we have some terrific cross makers and they’re very young!’

There’s a huge demand for St Brigid crosses from locals and visitors to the shrine each year, so to keep up with that demand, parents and friends are in the school hall every morning for a whole week, enjoying a cuppa and perfecting the craft, and indeed passing it on to the next generation.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to make St Brigid crosses, or to help out, now is your opportunity as the school is open each morning this week from 9.15am until 12 for demos, and all day Friday 1 February.

‘This is an important fundraiser for our school, with the money raised going directly towards the school,’ said a school Parents Association spokesperson.

‘But we couldn’t do it without help from the children, parents and friends in our community, who are dedicated and so happy to give some of their time and help. We’re right on the doorstep of where St Brigid was born, so it’s an important annual event for us too.’

The Brigid of Faughart Festival will include a night of poetry, story and song at the Oriel Centre at Dundalk Gaol on Saturday 2 February.

This is a new event for the festival this year and boasts an array of singing and poetic talent from around the country. Performers will include locally based singers Sean Bradley and Sophie Coyle. From the Aran Islands comes singer Deirdre Ní Chinnéide, from Kilkenny, poet Frances Cotter, who has many local links and from Donegal and Derry, performance poets Pamela Brown and Connor Kelly, formerly of the Poetry Chicks, who wowed audiences at 2010 Festival with their stunning blend of contemporary poetry and music. Start time is 8pm, tickets costs €15 and are available from Dundalk Tourist Office, or Roisin Cotter 087 136 3224 or book online at www.dolorewhelan.ie/events/brigid-faughart-festival/ - where full festival information and performers profiles are available.

Other activities will include the annual pilgrimage walk to Faughart Shrine and a walk exploring the sacred sites of Faughart.