Herstory sparks St. Brigid’s Day celebrations in Galway

Brigid by artist Erin Darcy.

Brigid by artist Erin Darcy.

Following a 3 year campaign spearheaded by Herstory, St. Brigid’s Day is Ireland’s new national holiday and the first named in honour of a woman: Brigid, our matron Saint and Celtic Goddess and a celebration of all mná.

Traditionally Brigid’s Day is Imbolc, the first day of Spring, the return of the light and the ancient Celtic festival of the goddess. Brigid was Ireland’s first environmentalist, a passionate protector of nature and carer of animals and all living things. An icon and role model for our times.

This year Herstory will spark the national St. Brigid’s Day celebrations in Galway city on Friday 27th January with a spectacular Herstory Light Show from 5.30pm until midnight in honour of Brigid and Galway women. Iconic landmarks will be illuminated including Lynch’s Castle, St. Nicholas Church, Galway City Museum and Pálás Cinema.


Friday, January 27, 2023

5.30 - 7pm: Lynch’s Castle

7.30 - 8.45pm: St. Nicholas’ Church

9.00 -10pm: Galway City Museum

10.30pm - 12.00am: Pálás Cinema

The Herstory Light Show is co-produced with Dodeca and funded by Galway City Council Creative Ireland Programme, with curation by Herstory in partnership with Galway City Arts Office.

The Galway illuminations will celebrate Brigid and the strength and spirit of Galway women. Legendary locals will be celebrated including Úna Taaffe, Ena McEntee, Biddy Ward, Lady Gregory and Gort heroine Mara; with portraits by local artists Geraldine Kilmartin, Irene Naughton, Shona MacGillivray and local school children. The illuminations will be animated with performances by visual artist Áine Philips, singer Ceara Conway and Moth & Butterfly storytellers.

Galway City Arts Officer Kate Howard says: “We are thrilled to present The Herstory Light Show and the work of so many wonderful Galway artists on January 27th, in the lead-up to St Brigid’s Day and the first public holiday in her honour! The evening will be a celebration of the women of Galway, our Celtic heritage, and the fierce yet protective and creative goddess Brigid.”

On Samhain last year, Herstory launched a nationwide open call, inviting artists to create art of Brigid - goddess and saint - and the modern women who embody her qualities and share her passions as environmentalist, feminist, Pride icon, healer, pioneer, human rights activist, goddess of the arts, alchemist and wisdom weaver.

Herstory Founder and Creative Director Melanie Lynch reveals,“It was legendary local activist Saibh Egan who introduced me to Úna Taaffe. I had never heard of her before moving to Galway. I was awestruck by Úna’s remarkable compassion and activism, her sense of justice and equality. She gave jobs to single mothers and offered shelter to homeless people. Taboo acts in her era. I believe Úna is one of the greatest embodiments of Brigid in action. She is a local legend who deserves to be a national treasure!”

Photographer Anita Murphy presents a series of empowering contemporary portraits for Spring Tide, her new project supporting and guiding women through the menopause.

Galway artist and activist Erin Darcy reveals her Brigid and a stunning collection of art exploring motherhood. Erin is a co-Founder of Mother Makers, a tribe of creative mamas that has a vision to gather a community of like-minded creative mother makers in Galway.

The Daughter of the Dagda Exhibition returns with artists Hilary Morley, Eleanor Duggan and Patsy Connolly responding to ‘Brigit on her special day, by looking at how the business of being female has been represented in Ireland past and present through myths, symbols and iconography.’ The Ancient Celtic Festival of Imbolc was linked to lambing and milk production and was especially associated with the Goddess Brigit, also known as the Triple Goddess and Daughter of the Dagda. The Dagda was one of the gods of the Tuatha De Danann, a supernatural race in Irish mythology. Celebrated all over Europe in the early part of the first millennium, the Goddess Brigit was transformed into a saint after Christianity came to Ireland.

Our friends in Gort will present Herself, a large-scale public projection project that takes place in the centre of Gort town on Sunday 5th February 2023. In collaboration with local community groups, artists Shona MacGillivray and Jill Beardsworth identify women whose lives and work embody the qualities that Brigid is known for.

Individual moving portraits of each woman are filmed and layered with visuals representing their ‘Brigid’ qualities. The images will be projected at dusk on the neoclassical 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.

“The goddess Brigid is a bridge, crossing the threshold from Celtic to Christian, North and South, winter and spring, water and fire, masculine and feminine.” - Treacy O’ Connor.


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