St Bridget, An art school & A hidden Sheela-Na-Gig

St Bridget’s Cathedral is located in Kildare Town in County Kildare. It was built c.1230 on the same site that St Brigid founded her nunnery in the 5th-century a.d. It is believed that Brigid’s mother was kidnapped by Irish pirates in Portugal who brought her Ireland as a slave (just like St. Patrick.) Inspired by Patrick’s teachings, she dedicated her life to working for God, looking after the poor, the sick, and the elderly. She founded many convents and monasteries all over Ireland however Kildare became one of the most prestigious monasteries in Ireland and in Christian Europe. She also founded a school that taught art, metalwork, and illumination. St Bridget’s Cathedral was established in 1230 and was almost entirely rebuilt in 1886. It’s grounds contain a 96 foot high round tower and a 9-foot granite high cross. Inside there is a rich assortment of artifacts from the grounds including beautifully carved cross-slabs, grave slabs, effigies, and tomb chest. One of the most striking features inside the Cathedral was the tomb chest of Walter Wellesley, a former bishop of Kildare. There is also an interesting carving of a ‘female exhibitionist’ that resembles a Sheela-na-gig!