Brighid's Holy Wells in Kildare
The Goddess or St. Brigid has two holy wells in Kildare? She certainly does. Some say that one of the wells belongs to the Ancient Goddess Brigid while the other well belongs to St. Brigid. Both are sacred, both are holy, and both hold Brigid's magical healing waters. Well #1 is the ancient "original" sacred well of Brigid. Well #2 is the dressed up sacred shrine and park of Brigid with her well. They were two distinctly different entities ... an Ancient Goddess who's ethereal Godly presence can manifest as a human female and the actual magical human nun turned Saint who was the personification of the Deitie. One in the same? could be. Two differently distinct entities who share the common thread? very possibly. Two wells ... that seems to be the case. One for the Goddess and One for the Saint? I would say "both" wells contain "both" the Saint and the Goddess in them. I've come to notice a pattern with this, that the "ancient" Pagan "original" well is often offset from the "Christian" one. This seemed to be the case when I went to see the Madron well in Cornwall, England (though technically that one had "three" - the original one buried in the marsh, the Pagan "original" one offset from the one underwater, and the Christian well house.). There are many Brigid wells in Ireland as well as Britain. As wells were the sacred sites of veneration in the Druidic faith, many also have an associated sacred tree with them that are covered with votive offerings. These are often called "Wishing Trees". Trees covered with "clotties" or ribbons of cloth done as a prayer for healing or a spell to obtain something. Pilgrims come here to get in touch with the well inside themselves. Wells are sacred places where people for thousands of years have come to pray, worship, and reflect. Pagan and Holy wells are often seen as the entrance to the womb of Mother Earth, the source of life. Each holy well usually is always related to healing, and each well usually has a specialty that it performs. Brigid's wells are pretty powerful for healing sore eyes. Brigid is associated with all healing. Her girdle is capable of curing all disease and illness and this well is rumored to make "the blind man seeing, the dumb girl speaking, etc."
Brighid's Holy Well #1 a.k.a. "The Wayside Well"
The first well is the ancient Pagan sacred well of the Goddess Brigid. It is located just next to the car park of the Japanese Gardens. This well / spring itself feeds and nourishes the Gardens themselves. This is the spring source whose waters run off and feeds the newer well. It's not really decorated and is simple, rustic, ancient, and silent. Seemingly forgotten. I has only an inscription sign in Irish that translates "St. Brigid, Mary of the Gael, pray for us." However it is still a major focal point for pilgrimmages and ceremonies. The Brigid Eve ceremonies (January 31st) start at a small fire set up just outside the Japanese Gardens car park with a chanting to the Goddess Brigid which is followed by a candlelit journey of contemplation about the Goddess and the Saint and the spirit that weaves them together. The candle lit journey goes to this well and ends at the second well. It is customary to gather this well water in a bottle because of its strong healing properties and in exchange to leave an offering for the spirits and faeries who dwell there.
Brighid's Holy Well #2 a.k.a. "Tobair Bride" (St. Brigid's Well)
The second well is the "supposed" Christian well of St. Brigid. It's the tourist one. It's the "Official" one. This is the one in the tourist guides, sign posts, and advertisements. It is located in a landscaped grotto at the end of a short lane close to Well #1. The local Catholic clergy moved Christian devotion and practices to this site in the 1950's supposedly out of concern for people's safety in accessing the original well which was at the bend in a narrow busy road. It is here that the Roman Catholic healing well is located. While pilgrims often visit both wells, this is the well where an involved ceremony, similar to the "stations of the cross" is conducted. Pilgrims reflect on the Goddess and/or Saint Brigid and how they weave together.
No visit to Ireland is complete without visisting the Irish National Stud!
Besides seeing the amazing stud, learning about the stallions, the daily life, seeing the young foals, you can go to the horsemuseum and learn about the previous owners odd habit letting his newborn foals have the stars layed out for them, and without hesitation sell a foal which wasnt granted supreme by the astronomers! You can also see the skeleton of the Arkle, the Irish racehorse that won a number of major races in the 1960s. (jup.. look how Irish people treat their dead winners ;) )
Besides the stud and museum there also The Commemorative Millennium Garden of St Fiachra and the Japanese Garden. Both are a spectacular sight!
I would recommend visiting the stud on first and foremost a day when its not raining, but also try getting there late february -> early april, when the mares are still having their foals. This way you get most of your visit, since you get to see ALL the daily life on a stud. Enjoy the Nursery, for the newborns (maybe you'll be lucky to see one as it enters the pen for the first time!), the many pens with mares and foals of different ages
Ireland is one of rare countries that have a National Stud.
I would sugest to go there during a nice day because it is not only about the stud. There, you can visit 2 very nice gardens; St. Fiachra's Garden and Japanese Gardens.
St. Fiachra's Garden is a commemorative garden to St. Fiachra, Patron Saint of Gardeners. It was designed by Martin Hallinan who is an award winning landscape architect.
Japanes gardens were the first japanese gardens in Europe and they symbolise the life of man.
The stud organizes very interesting guided tour where you can learn a lot about breeding horses.
The tour takes you through stables.
I went there in March when there are lots of foals.
There is also a Horse Museum.
That's one of things close to Dublin, interesting for both, kids and adults and I would highly recommand it.
The Irish National Stud established in 1946 has become an International Tourist Attraction. The thoroughbreds here command respect at the racecourses of the world. Admission at the Visitor's Center includes a 35 minute guided tour of the National Stud. You will see the beautiful stables these horses have for their place to live. The admission also includes a visit to the world-famous Japanese Gardens and commemorative garden to St. Fiachra Patron Saint of the gardens. Be sure to save time to walk down Tully Walk to see the mares and foals outside in the pastures. There are picnic tables in the car park and a craft shop at the Visitor's Center.
Admission is 9 Euro for Adults and family rates are provided.