Ireland to get new public holiday in honour of female saint

St Brigid’s Day, when Ireland’s second most famous saint is celebrated, will become a permanent public holiday from next year.

Dominic McGrath
Wednesday 19 January 2022 13:42
A traditional St Brigid’s Cross made from rushes (Niall Carson/PA)
A traditional St Brigid’s Cross made from rushes (Niall Carson/PA)

St Brigid’s Day, when Ireland’s most famous female saint is celebrated, will become a permanent public holiday from next year, the Government has announced.

The Irish Government on Wednesday announced a raft of measures designed to thank the public and frontline workers for their efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Among the measures announced is a one-off public holiday later this year on March 18, as well as a payment of 1,000 euros (£832) tax-free to frontline workers.

The Government said that an equivalent payment would be made to staff who worked in nursing homes and hospices during the pandemic.

St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

The form such state-sponsored recognition might take has long been a source of speculation, and occasional controversy, since the country began to emerge from the worst stages of the pandemic.

On Wednesday, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said: “A once-off public holiday, a Day of Remembrance and Recognition, will be held in memory of the more than 9,000 people who have died on the island of Ireland with Covid

“This will be held on Friday, March 18 and means we will have a four-day weekend because March 17, St Patrick’s Day, is also a public holiday.

Mr Varadkar said that it would “recognise and say thank you” to the Irish people for the efforts they made during the pandemic.

“We decided to make this decision now on a public holiday, rather than wait until the pandemic is over, because so many have already given so much.

“It also roughly marks the second anniversary of the beginning of the pandemic in Ireland.”

Irish St Patrick’s Day celebrations on March 17, in honour of the country’s patron saint, are already famous around the world.

Now, the country will also celebrate St Brigid’s Day, marking the first day of February.

Mr Varadkar said that this would be the first time an Irish public holiday has been named after a woman, as well as bringing Ireland more into line with the rest of Europe in terms of public holidays.

“It marks the half-way point between the winter solstice and the equinox, the beginning of spring and the Celtic New Year,” he said.

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