Here’s a video of St. Brigid’s birthplace shrine, in Faughart, (Fochard Muirthemne, which became Fochard Bride) up pretty far north but still in Ireland. And here’s a school’s page from Faughart, explaining what you see. Another page with more pictures, including a picture of the grave of Edward Bruce (Robert the Bruce’s brother), and the remains of an old monastery/convent on the site.
Here’s a Radio Telefis Eireann (RTE) documentary on Faughart. They show the very medieval Irish custom of doing “circuits” of pilgrim “stations” (places for prayer halts, like holy rocks, wells, processional paths, etc.), which has been adjusted for modern tastes by putting them somewhat in terms of Stations of the Cross. There’s also a very good look at one of the regional styles of making a St. Bridget’s Cross (this one out of green rushes, with typical Irish number fun). After that, there’s some annoying and nonsensical “it’s all pagan” blah-blah and then it’s over, so you might as well stop with the Cross.
Of course, the Irish used to have a lot more relics and historical Christian stuff for most of their many saints, than just holy wells and rocks and leaving ribbons as votary offerings, and such. It’s just that a lot of that kinda got destroyed by the Norse and the English and the feuding and such, whereas destroying relics that are also landscape features takes some doing, and destroying ribbons that are votaries doesn’t stop everybody from finding more ribbons. People think this stuff is superstitious now, because they’re not dirt poor and desperate for religious freedom, like people back in the day; or even just reasonably poor and finding ways to praise God anyway, like most European Catholics who lived out in any rural area.
So it’s not that Irish Catholics are so nature-oriented, as that the nature-oriented side had more ways to survive. (And as it was, a lot of holy, saint-associated natural features did get destroyed by the English during the Penal period, so it’s really not a joke.)
You know, I think Chaucer was right about pilgrimages. It’s Lent, it’s Spring, I kinda wanna go do one. Although Ireland’s a bit inaccessible to me at present, so I’ll have to try something closer. 🙂