Dabhach Bhríde (St. Brigid's Well) Exhibition by Mary Fahy & Frances Bermingham

You are cordially invited to the opening of Dabhach Bhríde at 7 pm on Tuesday 31st Jan '23 in the Red Couch Gallery.

The exhibition is centred around St. Brigid’s Day - Lá Fhéile Bríde - which celebrates Ireland’s only female patron saint on February 1st each year and this year The Courthouse Gallery & Studios, Ennistymon is delighted to present a pop-up exhibition in The Red Couch Gallery space. The exhibition will run for a limited time only until Saturday, 4th Feb 2023. 


Dabhach Bhríde is an exhibition by Co. Clare-based artists, Frances Bermingham and Mary Fahy and is a celebration of our local history and traditions stemming from the local St. Bridget’s Well in Liscannor, Dabhach Bhríde


Please join us this eve of St. Bridget's Day and share your stories of your own St. Brigid traditions and memories while enjoying an intentional cross-making demonstration and bringing home a Brat Bríde.


Free Community Event, All welcome, Fáilte Roimh Cách.



Mary Fahy is a multidisciplinary teaching artist and mother, from county Galway, based in Clare. Graduating from Limerick School of Art and Design in 2001 with a BA in Fine Art Painting, she was awarded the Revenue Commissioners Purchase Prize and selected for The Young Contemporaries exhibition in the Belltable Arts Centre, Limerick. Twice shortlisted for the Markievicz Medal Award for Painting in Dublin. Completed her H Dip in Art Education 2003, winning both the prestigious Larkin Memorial Award and the Irish Times Award. Mary is Head of the Art Department at Scoil Mhuire, Ennistymon since 2003. Solo shows include The Clare Museum and Scarriff Library 2012 and Ennistymon Courthouse Gallery 2015.


Currently exploring ritual and the Divine Feminine through a study of St. Brigid’s Holy Well in Liscannor, Co. Clare. She completed a collaborative residency ‘Time and Space’ in the Ennistymon Courthouse Gallery and Studios in the Summer of 2022.  She was awarded the Glór Artist to Artist Mentorship programme with Vera Klute 2022. Mary co-founded the Clare-based Artist-Mother Collective in 2022 and they held their inaugural group exhibition in the People’s Museum, Limerick, July 2022. Selected show 'Points of Perspective' Artlinks 126 Gallery August 2022, ‘Equilibrium’ at the Linenhall Castlebar, 2022. Preselected for the Royal Ulster Academy 2022. Upcoming Cowhouse Studios Residency 2023. Member of Spilt Milk Gallery, 126 Gallery, Ormston House, VAI, ATAI.


Artist’s Statement:


 ‘To be forgotten is to die twice’.


I am intrigued by the traces we leave, through our contact with people, objects and places. My current body of work explores ritual grief practices and the Divine Feminine at St. Brigid’s Well, in Liscannor, Co. Clare. The intimate prayers of the well-goers are enshrined at the site, through the leaving of tokens of remembrance, or ‘clooties’. Where traditionally rags were tied to a prayer tree, the modern visitor leaves whatever they have with them; hair ties, bracelets, children’s toys. The countless talismans left by visitors to the site transcend time and religious leanings. The religious statues at the well are weighed down with entreaties. These love/grief tokens represent the commonality of grief. My work honours with compassion those who are suffering or who have passed on. Human memory and experience weave layers of meaning into the site, changing these objects over time, and imbuing them with a sentiment. At this powerful pagan/Celtic/Christian site dedicated to Brigid, a sacred pause reminds us that we are all just passing through.


Frances Bermingham is a researcher and fieldworker, living in Moyasta, Co. Clare. Her early career was in Marine and Fisheries and is now involved in Whale and Dolphin  research-education and local community projects. She completed her heritage training ‘Learning from the Landscape’ in 2013 and carried out a two-year inventory of the natural, cultural and built heritage of the Loop Head peninsula. In 2018 she was part of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s sailing expedition to Iceland on Celtic Mist on both sea and land and had a joint exhibition of her work at the Cultúrlann Sweeney, Kilkee in November 2018.


Her most recent body of research work and exhibition material as part of a three-person team was Five Stories from the Loop; for the reopening of Loop Head Lighthouse for Clare County Council.


Artist’s Statement:


‘Achievement is smaller than men think. What is large is the sky, the earth, the sea, the soul.’ I am a gatherer and collector of things, of found objects both natural and manmade. Material diversity is a constant. I am a maker of things. I arrange and rearrange them to form and shape my story of living and surviving within a coastal seascape.


My daily vernacular is that of tide and wind and shore and bog. I am drawn to the edge, the boundary of things. In my practice I have chosen the materiality of seaweed as a sustainable natural resources washed ashore by tides to make artifacts, objects and wearable forms. My ongoing work is researching the cultural value and qualities of seaweed as a material language and the keeping of contemporaneous notes.


In my work, I investigate the use of cordage – súgán, nettle, dandelion and discarded fishing net. The use of existing cardboard moulds from packing, brown paper, jesmonite casting and 24ct gold leaf asking the question of how we value materials.


The slow repetitive process of shorework; of harvesting, drying, decay, preparing each seaweed air bladder, sanding, altering the surface connects me to the ‘material intelligence’ of my community which allows me to tell the story of the people of the sea.


My current body of research and making is looking at the Votive Offerings left behind at St. Brigid’s Well (Dabhach Bhride), in Ballysteen, Liscannor, Co. Clare. over time by pilgrims travelling there over land and sea.


The well and its well house is a vernacular landmark of cultural memory. Votive offerings of holy pictures, statues, rosaries, medals, scapulars, clooties, rags, rush crosses, a litany of prayers and a lexicon of words and things people left there that they had on their person to mark in some way their thanks or request to the well and St. Brigid and place them in the topography of the well enclosure. This placing and layering marking the processes of ritual, repetition, fading traces of colour and form, decay of natural materials and patterns of loss and remembrance. The tacit knowledge of these offerings over time. Everything changes and nothing changes.


My work tries to capture this by my own making of votive offerings of material language.