Department of Foreign Affairs marks St Brigid’s Day, Lá Fhéile Bríde
Press release30 January 2022
The Department of Foreign Affairs is launching its fifth international St. Brigid’s Day programme, celebrating women.
In 2022, over 30 Irish Embassies and Consulates will organise events 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.
This globe-spanning programme will, for the first time, be shared online through the Department’s To Be Irish platform and social media channels. This will promote participation and engagement by people at home and abroad and allow audiences to explore the global range of the programme all from the one platform.
Since 2018, Irish Embassies have been marking St. Brigid’s Day by celebrating the talents and contributions of Irish women, and women across the world, through programmes of music, performances, talks, music and panel discussions. Irish communities around the world have enthusiastically embraced the celebration, finding new and innovative ways to celebrate Brigid and the talents and achievements of women.
This year, Ireland is celebrating Brigid in London, Paris, Berlin, Lisbon, Lilongwe, Mexico City, New York, Stockholm and many other locations. These will showcase the transformative and empowering nature of women’s contribution to all spheres of life. Many events will be held online, live-streamed or recorded to ensure a truly international audience for this year’s events.
The Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora, Colm Brophy, T.D., said
“The Department of Foreign Affairs has been organising a special St Brigid’s Day programme since 2018 - honouring the contributions of trail-blazing women to our diaspora, to Ireland and to the world. This is the first year that we are taking this programme online - to share the amazing performances, seminars and other discussions which take place at Irish Embassies and Consulates at this time of year and to connect these with inspiring Brigid’s Day events taking place here in Ireland.”
Anne Anderson, the former Ambassador of Ireland to the United States and to the EU, noted that ’This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate women’s vibrant voices, and their extraordinary, transformative power. I look forward to participating in our St. Brigid’s Day event in Brussels. It marks 50 years of Ireland's EU membership and celebrates Irish women who have helped to shape the EU during that time.”
More information on events can be found at ToBeIrish.ie.
31 January 2022
NOTES TO EDITORS
St. Brigid is one of Ireland's three patron saints, alongside St. Colmcille and the world-famous St. Patrick. The origins of her Feast Day, on 1 February, are thought to originally be a pagan festival called Imbolc, which honoured Brigid as the goddess of poetry, healing and fire, and marked the beginning of spring. The day is also seen as a way to celebrate women, and the Celtic goddess’s heritage as a “symbol of feminine energy”. Lá Fhéile Bríde celebrates the arrival of longer, warmer days, and an emergence from the darkness of winter.
On 1 February 2018, Embassy London hosted the inaugural St Brigid’s Day event, celebrating the talent and creativity of women through a broad programme of performances, talks and panel discussions.
Building on the success of that inaugural event, the Department’s celebration of St Brigid’s Day has grown into an expanded programme of events take place internationally over several days. It is coordinated by the Department’s Irish Abroad Unit in cooperation with Ireland’s Embassies and Consulates worldwide.
Some highlights from the global programme of events include the following:
Berlin: In Brigidsfest: Hot off the Press, the Embassy of Ireland in Germany and the Consulate General of Ireland in Frankfurt, in cooperation with Literature Ireland, will present a new showcase of female literary talent whose books are yet to be published in the German language. The Embassy have commissioned translations of the opening segments of several exciting Irish writers including Elaine Feeney, Roisin Kiberd, Audrey Magee, Hilary Fannin, Olivia Fitzsimons, Louise Nealon und Wendy Erskine. Event link here.
Brussels: Marking 50 years of Ireland’s membership of the EU, the Permanent Representation of Ireland to the EU will host a webinar featuring trail-blazing Irish women who have led and shaped the EU. Panellists include Anne Anderson, former Irish Permanent Representative to the EU, Catherine Day, former Secretary General of the European Commission, and Emily O’Reilly, European Ombudsman, moderated by Ambassador Barbara Cullinane, Ireland’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU.
London: Embassy London celebrates its 5th annual St Brigid’s Day event featuring 19 trailblazing women from Britain and Ireland, who are making their mark in diverse fields including music, media, sport, food, science, and literature. Led by MC Dearbhail McDonald, guests will enjoy performances from opera singer Ruby Philogene-Doran; Irish/Zimbabwean singer Shiv and poet and writer Esme Allman, as well as a keynote address from chef and owner of Myrtle restaurant, Anna Haugh.
Malawi: Irish creative collective GxrlCode will run a series of music (DJ, and song writing) and poetry and writing workshops in January in Lilongwe, Malawi with Malawian women artists in conjunction with the Tiwale organisation.
Mexico: Revolutionary Women of Ireland and Mexico, an online webinar, will focus on the women who have played a key role in the independences of Ireland and Mexico, and reflect on how they are remembered. With Carmen Saucedo, Irish Historian Sinéad McCoole (Mna100 Centenary Podcast) and Michael Hogan, an Irish-American based in Mexico who has written a book on revolutionary women, plus a message from the Secretary at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Martha Delgado. Event link here.
Ottawa: Embassy Ottawa will host Dr Gráinne Healy, The Honourable Catherine McKenna, former Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Karol Balfe for a discussion on current global challenges and the impact women have and can have on finding solutions. Event link here
Stockholm: Women blazing a trail in STEM – perspectives from Sweden and Ireland. This panel discussion will feature four Irish women working in STEM. Each panellist will give a short presentation on their area of expertise and their experience of working in STEM as a woman; obstacles faced and opportunities seized. More information here
Vancouver: Brigid Festival Vancouver 2022 will be a three-day festival to celebrate the creativity of Irish women and women across the world. Events include the story of Bridget Coll, the former nun who defied Pinochet’s regime, told by LGBTQ+ activist Chris Morrissey and Dr. Maurice Casey, curator of the “Out in the World: Ireland’s LGBTQ+ Diaspora”
Records and Redress: A Dialogue on Irish Mother and Baby Institutions and Canadian Residential School, a discussionbringing together representatives from the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre and the Tuam Oral History Project.
Valletta: The Department of Foreign Affairs has supported the participation of Mother Medal 1 - 5 by Irish artist Rachel Fallon in The Ordinary Lives of Women exhibition, curated by Maltese-Irish artist Margerita Pulé. The exhibition will be held in Malta’s National Centre for Creativity from 28 January – 13 March. Exhibition information here
Ireland: The Department of Foreign Affairs has also collaborated with a number of Ireland-based creatives:
Working with the Irish Traditional Music Archive, the Department has commissioned three original compositions to celebrate Brigid. Artists Caitlín Nic Gabhann, Síle Denvir, and Louise Mulcahy each composed and performed new works. The videos can be found on the ITMA and DFA YouTube channels.
In partnership with EPIC, the Department of Foreign Affairs produced a Brigid’s Day activity pack for children. This 14-page pack includes quizzes, activities, and stories about Brigid.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has also commissioned a special episode of Shelfmarks, a podcast by the Royal Irish Academy. In this episode podcaster Zoë Comyns explores the figure of Brigid. She is joined by guest writer Elaine Feeney who has written two specially commissioned pieces for the podcast.
Join us in conversation with women who rocked the system:Monica Williams, Nora Owen, Saffa Musleh, Irish Women’s Speeches author Sonja Tiernan, chaired by Olivia O’Leary - live-streamed from the Royal Irish Academy on February 3rd.
The Hamilton Gallery in Sligo presents a hybrid Exhibition featuring artworks by 85 individual female artists inspired by a specially commissioned poem by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin entitled "St Brigid's Well".