An inspiring programme of cultural events taking place across the National Cultural Institutions has been announced today in recognition of the first Bank Holiday for Imbolc/St Brigid’s Day.

Inaugural Saint Brigid’s Day bank holiday cultural programme launched to celebrate women in Ireland 1
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As the first Irish public holiday named after a woman, St Brigid’s Day provides a unique opportunity to acknowledge the critical role that women have played in Irish history, culture and society.

Inaugural Saint Brigid’s Day bank holiday cultural programme launched to celebrate women in Ireland 3
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In Celtic mythology, Brigid was a triple goddess – of healing, fire, and of poetry – and the Christian saint who took her name, born in 450 AD, carried some of those same associations as the patron saint of poets and midwives.

Inaugural Saint Brigid’s Day bank holiday cultural programme launched to celebrate women in Ireland 5
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As such, this bank holiday carries a dual opportunity to recognise the role of women through our arts and cultural heritage.

Our National Cultural Institutions have organised an exciting programme of events over the long weekend in response.

This includes exhibitions at IMMA and the National Museum celebrating the work of seminal Irish women artists and political pioneers.

IMMA will open Irish Gothic, a major retrospective by renowned Irish artist Patricia Hurl at IMMA. This marks the first in a series of solo exhibitions at IMMA that will focus on Irish and international women artists throughout the year.

The National Museum of Ireland – Collins Barracks will also present Bonnets, Bandoliers and Ballot Papers, which offers a unique insight into the changing role of women during the transformational first decades of the 20th century through the lens of artefacts in the collection.

These are just a selection of the numerous events taking place at the National Cultural Institutions, with further details available on individual institutions’ websites.

There will be a range of community based events organised by the local authorities as part of their Culture and Creativity Strategies under Creative Ireland in Galway, Kerry, Louth, Offaly, Roscommon, Tipperary and Kildare.

Herstory Light Show is leading festivities by illuminating a number of local landmarks with art of Brigid and Irish goddesses across several locations in Ireland.

A giant Sliabh na mBan Cloak prepared by local women will be unveiled in Tipperary while Kildare County Council has planned a programme of events celebrating its unique links with St. Brigid.

Elsewhere, Herself – a large scale public ‘projection project’ – will take place in Galway on February 4th. In collaboration with local community groups, artists Shona MacGillivray and Jill Beardsworth have identified women whose lives and work embody the qualities that Brigid is known for.  Herself, Gort courthouse, Co Galway (dusk, February 4th). A large-scale public projection of filmed portraits of individual women, layered with visuals representing their “Bigid” qualities.

Artists Shona MacGillivray and Jill Beardsworth collaborate with local community groups.

Individual moving portraits of each woman have been filmed and layered with visuals representing their ‘Brigid’ qualities.

The images will be projected at dusk on the neo-classical courthouse building in Gort town square on the new Brigid bank holiday weekend.

The project illuminates those women who work quietly in the background, nurturing, protecting, growing, healing, listening and making our world a better place to be.

Brigid’s Awakening Festival, Strokestown Park, Co Roscommon (January 28th-February 5th). Including a Herstory Salon, shadow puppetry, ceremony at the illuminated Brigid’s Cross on Tarmonbarry Bridge, performance of Briget’s Cloak, talks, an exhibition, and Candlelit Tales.

Brigid’s Garden, Roscahill, Co Galway. The striking Celtic garden 20 minutes north of Galway city hosts a fireside exploration and stories of Brigid, songs and guided meditation (remote online January 29th; in-person February 6th) plus a free Brigid’s Cross or Brídeog workshops on Monday 6th.

Wild Women, (Dún Laoghaire Lexicon, January 31st, 6pm). Discussion about the unconventional and unruly women who followed in Brigid’s footsteps and broke the mould, chaired by Flor MacCarthy with Ailbhe Smyth, Senator Eileen Flynn, Sarah Webb, Justine McCarthy, Martina Devlin and Lise-Ann McLaughlin.

Brigid of Ireland, Icon for Today: Woman Spirit Ireland and TCD Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies seminar digging into Brigid’s living traditions; historical Brigid and her successors; her depictions in artwork, ancient and modern, along with the artefacts used in Imbolc rituals. Plus poetry, music, Brigid crosses and Brídógs. (Ed Burke Theatre, Trinity College Dublin, January 28th).

Brigid’s Flamin’ – The Wild Geeze & guests: Evening cabaret with comedy duo Bridget Larkin and burlesque chanteuse Miss Lavelle hosting music, comedy and burlesque from their favourite Brigid-enriched performers. The Fumbally, Dublin 8, February 5th.

St Brigid Anniversary Art Project: display of mixed media art from Creative Ireland project, artist Shauna Swords working with students from St Brigid’s Special School in Dundalk.

Weaving a Crosóg Bride (St Brigid’s Cross) with weaver Brendan Farren, Eden Place Arts Centre, Derry, January 31st, 12pm.

Saint Brigid’s Day goes International

Irish embassies and consulates are leading an impressive range of celebrations around the world.

The London embassy was ahead of the curve with Brigid, hosting events since 2018, and this year on February 1st celebrates with discussions on women and peace; literature; diversity and inclusion; poetry and music. It’s part of a wider St Brigid’s Festival in Britain in the Consulate network, the Irish Cultural Centre Hammersmith, London Irish Centre, and Irish Film London.

Berlin’s Brigidsfest: The Authors are Present is a three-day festival of woman creativity in written and spoken word. Plus Brussels has networking, Budapest exhibits contemporary art, Helsinki explores Women Peace and Security, and Madrid has theatre and Irish dancing.

Herstory’s Peace Heroines exhibition is at the US Congress, Women of Extraordinary Ability at the Irish Consulate New York highlights women breaking gendered stereotypes, Atlanta marks Women in Creativity and Cultural Industry, and Vancouver has a Brigid festival.

Lá Fhéile Bríde is celebrated across four States and Territories and seven cities in AustraliaWellington embassy’s Agents of Change reflects on the legacy, influence and role of women and girls. More details of St Brigid’s Day events across the globe

Meanwhile, Mná100, a key element of the Decade of Centenaries Programme, have partnered with the Department of Foreign Affairs Irish Embassy in Delhi, India, to produce a short film piece on the life of Roscommon woman Margaret Cousins.

Cousins worked for suffrage, the rights of women, and gender equality both in Ireland and in India. This piece looks at her lasting legacy in Ireland and India to this day.

A number of Irish Embassies and Consulates will also organise events this year, celebrating the pioneering role of Irish women in various aspects of life.

The programme will showcase Ireland’s commitment to diversity and gender equality by celebrating the achievements of women, and acknowledging women’s contribution across the world.

Minister Martin said:

I look forward greatly to the inaugural Saint Brigid’s Day bank holiday, also known as Imbolc, which heralds the beginning of spring, a time of growth and renewal.

This presents a unique opportunity to reflect upon the vital role that Irish women have played in building, sustaining and inspiring our nation.

I look forward to working with the National Cultural Institutions to further embed St Brigid’s Day into their annual programmes for 2024 and beyond.

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