A number of people have written to Taoiseach Micheál Martin calling for St. Brigid's Day to become Ireland's newest bank holiday.
Tanáiste Leo Varadkar recently confirmed that the Irish Government is working on a proposal to have a "double bank holiday" for St. Patrick's Day this year before making introducing a new permanent bank holiday for St. Brigid's Day on February 1 from 2023 onward.
The proposal to make February 1 a bank holiday appears to have the broad support of Irish people, according to letters to the Taoiseach viewed by the Irish Independent.
Dozens of people have written to Micheál Martin, stating that a St. Brigid's Day bank holiday would simultaneously celebrate Ireland's Celtic heritage and honor women in Ireland.
Melanie Lynch, the head of Herstory.ie, the group which started the St. Brigid's Day campaign, penned a letter to Martin and told him that introducing a new public holiday on February 1 was an opportunity to celebrate "Mná na hÉireann".
"Already Ireland has three bank holidays dedicated to men – Jesus, Stephen, and Patrick. In the 21st century, we still are waiting for a bank holiday to celebrate an Irish woman and Mná na hÉireann," Lynch wrote.
She also cited Brigid's "healing powers and compassion for the sick and poor" as another reason for introducing a public holiday on February 1.
Another unnamed writer said that making St. Brigid's Day a bank holiday would recognize "that so many on the frontline are female".
One message described St. Brigid as a "latter-day Greta Thurnberg", who stood as a cornerstone of justice and peace.
Other writers urged the Taoiseach not to introduce a holiday on St. Brigid's Day, with some arguing against another religious holiday in Ireland.
Chairperson of Atheist Ireland Michael Nugent said that introducing a St. Brigid's Day public holiday sends "the wrong message" about multi-cultural Ireland.
"She supposedly wove a Christian cross out of rushes to convert a pagan chieftain to Christianity as he was dying. This is exactly the wrong message to convey about the multi-cultural Ireland of today," Nugent wrote.
He called for the new holiday to be called "the Frontline Workers’ Public Holiday" and argued that the day could celebrate two female Irish scientists instead of a religious figure.
Nugent proposed honoring Dorothy Stopford Price, who helped eliminate childhood tuberculosis in Ireland, and Irish chemist Kathleen Lonsdale, who helped shelter refugees during the Second World War.
Others called for the new holiday to be held on Thanksgiving, while the Frontline Emergency and Security Services Éire Forum called on the Taoiseach to make the already-existing National Services Day Ireland's newest holiday.
National Services Day has been celebrated on the first Saturday in September since it was introduced in 2018.