In Celtic times the main shrine to the Goddess Bride was at Kildare in Irelandand and was tended by a group of women known as 'the daughters of fire' whose job it was to ensure that the flames never died.
In Christian times the Goddess Bride became St Bridget and she took on the role of abbess of the convent at Kildare. The sacred fire also crossed the divide between Pagan and Christian beliefs and constantly burned within the abbey for more than 1000 years.
The fire however appeared to have magical properties, for it never died and never increased in ashes, a fact that is written about in the Chronicles of Gerald of Wales when he visited the abbey during the C12.
Gerald described how, over a period of 19 nights, one nun would watch the fire through the night, whilst on the 20th night, the nun on duty would fetch the logs, place them beside the fire and say 'Bridget guard your fire, this is your night,' and then leave. In the morning the logs would be burned and the fire would be alight.
In the C13 the papal envoy of London ordered that the fire be extinguished due to its Pagan connections, but the local people were so angry that they petitioned the bishop to have it re-lit and it then burned until the reformation, when under the orders of Henry V111 it was
extinguished for good.
From 'Mrs Darley's Pagan Whispers'