Photo Credit: Hchc2009 / Andreas F Borchert / Wikimedia
A cross-border initiative has been announced to promote two medieval Celtic saints: the Welsh saint David and his pupil, the Irish Saint Aidan – or Máedóc of Ferns as he is sometimes known. The European Union are providing funding of €1.9 million Euro (approximately £1.6 million GBP) in the scheme, which is planned to “drive forward economic growth across the two regions through regeneration, cultural and educational projects and business to business mentoring.” The three-year project will “rediscover the fascinating heritage of the early medieval saints,” the Church in Wales’ Diocese of St Davids said.
The scheme is being led by Pembrokeshire County Council, in partnership with Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority in Wales, alongside Wexford County Council and Visit Wexford in Ireland.
The plans will see the restoration of St Non’s well at St Davids, the tiny city named after the Welsh saint, which is said to be his birthplace. Permanent artworks will be commissioned in both regions which will thematically correspond with each other. Schools will take part in a joint project to animate the story of the two saints, with pupils taking part in a visit to the partner country.
In addition to giving his name to the City and Diocese of St Davids, the patron saint of Wales is commemorated across the city, where he spent much of his life. Similarly, St Aidan is closely associated with Wexford, particularly in the town of Ferns. The Diocese of St Davids said: “As well as enabling both communities to rediscover their shared heritage, the project aims to use this shared history as a way of attracting new visitors to these coastal communities.”
St Aidan is said to have travelled from Wexford to Pembrokeshire to study under St David for several years before returning to Ireland to build his own monastery at Ferns. Both Ferns and St Davids have historically important cathedrals, the cathedral at Ferns, in the Diocese of Cashel and Ossory, is the smallest in Ireland and the cathedral at St Davids being a key tourist destination.
Councillor David Simpson, the Leader of the civic County Council in Pembrokeshire, said: “This has been a truly collaborative piece of work with a great many partners in the private, public and third sectors working with us throughout the application process”.