The new St Brigid’s Day bank holiday is coming in February – here are some ideas for making the best of it
Things are looking up.
Blue Monday is in the rearview mirror, there’s a wee stretch in the evenings, and many people will be looking forward to the first pay cheque of 2023 this week.
Best of all, there's a new bank holiday coming on February 6.
Ireland’s new bank holiday marks St Brigid’s Day. While that day is celebrated on February 1, the bank holiday will fall annually on the first Monday in February. In 2023, that’s Monday, February 6.
Where future St. Brigid’s Days fall on a Friday, that Friday, February 1 will be the public holiday.
2022 saw an extra bank holiday on March 18 to mark the efforts of frontline workers during the pandemic. The extra day this year becomes a permanent bank holiday in February.
"This will be the first Irish public holiday named after a woman,” then-Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, said last year. “It marks the half-way point between the winter solstice and the equinox, the beginning of spring and the Celtic New Year.”
The bank holiday also coincides with the festival of Imbolc. The other Celtic festivals (Bealtaine in May, Lughnasa in August and Samhain in October) are already public holidays.
Bored by generic hotels? The Harrison is a boutique stay with a difference in Belfast – “a jewel box labour of love” with rooms individually styled by owner, Melanie Harrison. Stay over on Saturday, February 4 from £150/€171 and get 50pc off your stay on Sunday, with a complimentary glass of wine on arrival. chambersofdistinction.com
Do Dun Laoghaire
The Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire has a one-night special on Sunday, February 5. B&B starts from €149 for two sharing a double, with a family rate (2+2 sharing) from €169. royalmarine.ie
Brewery tours in Baltimore
Original Irish Hotels member Casey’s of Baltimore has a two-night-stay bundling B&B and a Free Craft Beer Paddle in the Bar, dinner on an evening of your choice and a brewery tour for two in their in-house West Cork Brewery. It costs from €380 midweek for two sharing, or €395 at weekends. caseysofbaltimore.com
Kick back at the K Club
The five-star Co Kildare resort has a St Brigid’s Healing Escape, which it says “combines all the elements needed to nourish body and soul over the newly-granted long weekend”. Available from February 3-6, it includes a two-night B&B stay, 50-minute ‘Grounding Ritual’ and choice of one wellness class from €329 per night for two. kclub.ie
A Limerick layover
Castle Oaks House Hotel, a member of Só Hotels set on the banks of the Shannon in Castleconnell, is doing a bank holiday offer from €99 B&B (per room, based on two sharing). castleoaks.ie
Luxury at Lough Rynn Castle
Lough Rynn Castle Estate in Co Leitrim, another Original Irish Hotels member, has a one-night stay with a three-course dinner served in its Drawing Rooms on special offer from €235 for two people sharing. loughrynn.ie
Blue Book bliss at Bushmills Inn
This Co Antrim stay has B&B, a bottle of Prosecco and chocolate-dipped strawberries on arrival bundled from £365/€417 per night for two sharing. An early Valentine's Day celebration, perhaps? bushmillsinn.com
Spring at Fernhill House & Gardens
This family-run, Co Cork hotel is new to Ireland’s Blue Book for 2023 ( read our hotel review here), and it has some gorgeous gardens to explore. B&B is on offer on Sunday February 5 from €179 for two sharing. fernhillhousehotel.com
Two’s Company at Knockranny House
The Westport four-star’s ‘Two’s Company’ experience includes an hour-long shared mud chamber treatment for a couple, followed by a back, shoulder and neck massage and facial at Spa Salveo. There’s also a dinner at La Fougère. The two-night offer includes B&B from €370pp over the February bank holiday. knockrannyhousehotel.ie
Press Up pampering
The Press Up Group’s hotels have several specials over the bank holiday weekend, including a ‘Stay and Dine’ offer at Dublin’s Clarence Hotel with dinner at Cleaver East from €365 for two, or a similar deal at The Dean in Cork, with B&B and dinner at Sophie’s Rooftop Restaurant from €334 for two. theclarence.ie; thedean.ie
Bear in mind that lots of hotels still have January sales running. The Trinity City Hotel in Dublin, for example, has 20pc off (book before January 31) for stays to March 31; while Co Donegal’s Redcastle Hotel has a three-nights-for-two offer from €282 per room (subject to availability). In Cork, The Metropole has a 20pc discount on breaks for 2023 (to January 31). trinitycityhotel.com; redcastlehoteldonegal.com; themetropolehotel.ie
Brigid 1500 in Kildare
The big celebrations, as you might imagine, are in Co Kildare – which is shaping up as a hub for the Brigid 1500 programme in 2024, the 1,500th anniversary of the saint’s death.
Highlights of the 2023 events include a Fire & Light Walk starting from Kildare Town Square at 6pm on Saturday, February 4 and ‘A Concert for Brigid 1500’ on February 5 at St Brigid’s Cathedral.
Singer Eimear Quinn will perform a special concert, including a rendition of her original song dedicated to St Brigid.
Literary events and walks are also scheduled, and watch out for buildings and sites being lit up with illustrations depicting the saint.
For more, see brigid1500.ie/Events
St. Brigid’s Day at the Cliffs of Moher
You’ll find bank holiday events all over the country – including at the Cliffs of Moher, named ‘ Ireland’s Best Visitor Attraction’ in our Reader Travel Awards this weekend.
It celebrates St. Brigid’s Day on Tuesday, February 1, with demonstrations on how to make Brideóg dolls and St. Brigid’s crosses in the visitor centre (all ages).
For more, see cliffsofmoher.ie
Brigit: Dublin City Celebrating Women
The festival returns this year from February 1 to 6, with Dublin City Council mounting a programme of events to celebrate the contributions and achievements of women past and present, while also welcoming the beginning of Spring.
The programme will be revealed this week on dublin.ie/brigit
St Brigit’s Garden, Co Galway
This gorgeous Galway attraction celebrates Lá Fhéile Bríde, the Celtic fire festival of Imbolc, on Sunday, February 5 from 2-5pm.
The traditional start of spring in Ireland, its seasonal events will explore the stories and symbols of Brigit, with opportunities to make Brigit’s crosses and Brídeog dolls and share some reflective time, as well as songs, poems and stories.
"We will also participate in Brigit rituals and traditions including calling in Brigit, passing through the Crios Bríd (Brigit’s girdle), laying the Brat Bríde outside, and finishing with a fire (weather permitting),” it says.
It includes a mid-afternoon tea and is “best suited to adults,” they say.
Book ahead, €35/€25, brigitsgarden.ie
Kilkenny Restaurant Week
It coincides with, rather than celebrates, Ireland’s new St Brigid’s Day bank holiday, but Kilkenny Restaurant Week (Jan 27 to Feb 5) is a tasty excuse to visit the Marble City.
It encourages visitors to experience the diversity of its culinary culture and participating properties will be running exclusive dining packages, discounts, tasting menus and more.
View the full list of restaurants and offers at visitkilkenny.ie
Monday, February 6 - St Brigid’s Day
Friday, March 17 - Saint Patrick's Day
Monday, April 10 - Easter Monday
Monday, May 1 - May Day
Monday, June 5 - June Bank Holiday
Monday, August 7 - August Bank Holiday
Monday, October 30 - October Bank Holiday
Monday, December 25 - Christmas Day
Tuesday, December 26 - St Stephen's Day
NB: All prices and events subject to availability and change.