St. Brigid's Day 2023
News10 February 2023
St. Brigid's Cross
St. Brigid's Day Youth Challenge
On St. Brigid’s Day, the Consulate hosted a morning event bringing together high school students from across the area to ideate, design and present ideas for how to promulgate a more equitable society.
During this six-hour social hackathon, students from across San Francisco worked together on gender justice-themed issues and presented their solutions to a panel of women leaders.
The top prize went to a group who focused on addressing the lack of access to sanitary products in the Bay Area with the idea of providing free sanitary products from strategically placed vending machines. Prizes were also awarded to individuals on the basis of rhetorical prowess.
Women Blazing a Trail
This evening event on St. Brigid's Day featured a discussion with inspiring Irish and Irish-American women working towards improving working conditions for women in their fields.
The panel was moderated by author and thought leader Jennifer Kenny and featured contributions from Eimear Noone, the first woman to conduct the music for the Oscars; Tierna Davidson, the youngest player selected for the 2019 U.S. World Cup Champion Squad; and Dr. Erin Costello Wecker, author of an upcoming book on Kate Kennedy who led the fight in 1874 to be paid the same salary as male principal teachers and won.
The Consulate presented the inaugural St. Brigid's Day award to Equal Rights Advocates for their tireless efforts to pursue justice.
Common Threads Project
February 1st is St. Brigid's day, a Christian feast day long associated with the traditional Irish festival of Imbolc. In 2023, it has the special distinction of being Ireland's newest annual public holiday, and the first one dedicated to an Irish woman. The festival and holiday honor Brigid and her fiery spirit, and marks the day that winter gives way to spring, and the first flush of life returns to the land.
LisaRuth Elliott, an urban farmer at San Francisco's Alemany Farm, observes these seasonal changes first-hand in California.
"Brigid and Imbolc have figured into my sense of the turn of seasons from winter into spring for many years," says LisaRuth. "The areas of which she is a patroness-- healing, protection, poetry, and blacksmithing-- align with the layers of meaning I work with in my artistic practice."
LisaRuth, like Brigid, is a gifted craftswoman. A noted collage and fabric artist, LisaRuth lent her skills this year to the Common Threads project, a celebration of St. Brigid and her legendary brat, or cloak, the magical garment she used to claim land from the King of Leinster for her abbey in Kildare.
Watch LisaRuth speak about the project here.
The Common Threads project brought 40 international textile artists together to re-create Brigid's brat to promote and support textile work, a traditionally female industry and art form.
The cloak was pieced together by volunteers from the Irish Patchwork Society at the Epic Museum, where it will be on display until February 15, 2023 as part of the St. Brigid’s Day celebrations.
Brigid's cloak made Kildare a powerful place, an idea that LisaRuth understands.
"As an urban farmer, I steward the land and soil of the peninsula of Yelamu, the homeland of the Ramaytush Ohlone, " LisaRuth observed. "I am deeply interested in place. The return to an urban garden each week through the seasons gives me a unique understanding of place, and how I am situated within it."
"I'm a very tactile person who finds it satisfying to work with textiles and explore natural materials," she added.
LisaRuth cultivates a dye garden onsite at Alemany Farm, that she uses to color her handmade textiles, including traditional dye plants like woad, and weld, and native plants less well known for their ability to impart color, like manzanita, which produces a pale pink tint.
LisaRuth used California Sagebrush, California Poppy, Red Flowering Currant, Purple Sage and other native plants for her patch of Brigid's brat to create a subtle but striking color pallet reminiscent of the rosy warmth of the spring sun, and the rich brown of the soil.
"Because ‘Common Threads’ aims to visually represent the reach of the Irish consular network, I chose a selection of dyed silk and cotton dyed with plants endemic to this place—San Francisco/Yelamu. I love the muted hues of the yellows and pinks, which are set off by the dark brown.”
LisaRuth, who has worked with fiber arts for nearly twenty years, cites her international travels as a teenager as a wellspring of inspiration.
"I became fascinated with the beauty of handmade textiles in each cultural context I was in. I began to study techniques and patterns, and how they related to the specific landscape and culture."
It was through participating in the Common Threads project that LisaRuth was able to re-connect with her roots in the north of Ireland where, fittingly, the manufacturing of linen textiles was a social and economic force.
"The Elliotts are of Antrim and Donegal, and emigrated to the North American continent in 1730," she said. "Participating in ‘Common Threads’ has allowed me to understand more about my family history, which we have become disconnected from over the generations."
LisaRuth's artwork is on display from 05 November 2022 - 16 February 2023 at the San Francisco Public Library in the exhibit "What unseen thing blows wishes across my surface?" a co-presentation with San Francisco poet Kim Shuck.