The Fire Temple

Fire Temple (1) (640x386)

Getting back to my recent visit to Kildare town, there is a rather interesting structure which is located on the north side of St. Brigid’s Cathedral grounds. This is the site of the ancient Fire Temple associated with the Gaelic Goddess Brigid. In Irish Lore, Brigid was the daughter of Dagda, a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann and a deity in her own right. Brigid has long been associated with Kildare going back as far as the arrival of the Tuatha Dé Danann in Ireland, circa 1897 B.C. Being seen as a Triple Goddess, Brigid encompassed the three aspects of Fire, Healing and Poetry. And it was on this very spot were the Priestesses or female Druids were said to keep Brigid’s sacred flame alight. With the arrival of Christianity in Kildare, the goddess Brigid’s influence was so strong that it could not be ignored or suppressed and so much of her rituals and influence were incorporated into the new religion.

Fire Temple (2) (640x426)

When St. Brigid arrived in Kildare to found her monastery around 470AD, she two continued the ancient tradition and kept the flame of the Goddess alive. The infamous Welsh chronicler Giraldus Cambrensis whom had visited Kildare once described the Fire Temple as being ‘’ surrounded by a hedge, made of stakes and brushwood, and forming a circle, within which no male can enter; and if anyone should presume to enter, which has been sometimes attempted by rash men, he will not escape the divine vengeance’’. Sadly the flame which had been kept alive for centuries was finally extinguished in the 16th century after the suppression of the monasteries by King Henry VIII of England. The flame stayed extinguished for over four centuries, until 1993 when the flame was relit by the Brigidine sisters. Since then, the Brigidine Sisters in Kildare have tended the flame in their Centre, Solas Bhride.  A small fire is often lit in the fire temple for ritual on St. Brigid’s feastday on the 1st February.

Fire Temple (3) (640x426)For these and more of my images, why not visit my Website or join me on Facebook or Twitter.

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About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
This entry was posted in Diary of a Ruinhunter, Photography, Places of Interest, Religious Sites and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to The Fire Temple

  1. beetleypete says:

    Some nice contrast and atmosphere in these photos Ed. And historical lessons too, as always.
    Best wishes, Pete

  2. oglach says:

    Thanks for this; I’ve had a St. Brigid’s cross my entire life; I even once had an unknown person place a cross made of rushes outside my home; beautiful photos, beautiful writing.

  3. Karen says:

    I think this is my favorite story so far! I’m so glad Brigid’s flame is burning and tended once more.

  4. Ali Isaac says:

    Hi Ed, lovely images as always! Do you really think this is the spot where Brigid lit her fire? Is the wall around it part of a building once built over it, or just a boundary? And is the old oak still there, or long gone?

    • Thanks Ali, it’s a question that we may never truely know. The wall is obviously much older, defiantly a Christian addition from after the 12th century based on Geraldius description. Sadly the ancient oak is no longer there.

  5. Thrilled to see your photo of this site which had been a place i very much wanted to visit when in Ireland, still hoping . Thank you

  6. belshade says:

    Fire is a fascinating theme – Vesta – Parsees – Iran – all common themes. So far as Ireland is concerned the most interesting examples of people who influenced Ireland are the Tuatha De Danann. A very intriguing bunch of people – and in my opinion very real – not “mythological”. Des.

    • Since the dawn of time, fire has been a huge theme. The dedannan were not the first tribe to leave their mark. Their were the fomorians, parthalonians, Nemedians, fir bolg, DeDannan and then the Mileseans. All played a massive part in the development of the Gaelic race. I reckon our clasest reletives would be the Basque nation..

  7. This stuff HAS TO become a book. You are sitting on a photographic/historic goldmine!!! The second you set up a crowdfunding campaign I will donate….

  8. marvelous mono as always Ed and such a wonderful telling of the history!! I love reading these posts. Yayy I will soon be in Ireland. Can’t wait to have another dinner at the old Brazen Head in Dublin!!

  9. ulsterphotosimages says:

    Great reading !!

  10. Thanks for your lovely posts, Ed, and hey! I’m heading your way – we are selling our apartment in North Cyprus and heading to Eire. How good is that (well, for us, at least. Not sure how the Irish will take us!).

    • My absolute pleasure. Thats fantastic news. I justhope that you are ready for our unique climate and weather. I most certainly is rarely like anything you might be used too in Cyprus. But please feel free to bring some of that lovely climate from Cyprus with you, it would be most welcome 🙂
      Céad Míle Fáilte

      • Thanks for the welcome but be careful what you wish for, Ed: we are leaving – reluctantly – due to the intense summer heat in July and August, a constant 38-40C steamy heatwave. I can’t handle it any more and, having been hospitalised twice with heatstroke, have no intention of a third episode. But no doubt whenever we make it to Eire, we’ll start moaning about the cold and rain!

  11. kiwigrannz says:

    Thankyou for dropping by my blog..in a week or so I have an exciting blog about an urban explorer with newly released, never before seen imagery!! Follow me so as not to miss this fun adventure of Andre Govia.

  12. Pingback: The Round Tower of Kildare | Ed Mooney Photography

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