“Blazing a Trail: Lives and Legacies of Irish Diaspora Women” exhibition, in association with Herstory, Epic and Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, celebrates the lives and legacies of some amazing Irish women… and it’s come to an Irish Embassy near you!

At the Irish emigration museum in Dublin’s docklands a new exhibition “Blazing a Trail: Lives and Legacies of Irish Diaspora Women” will launch this week. The exhibition, celebrating 21 pioneering Irish diaspora women of the 19th and 20th centuries who blazed a trail in a wide range of fields, will then leave Dublin and travel to Irish embassies around the world over the coming years.

The new exhibit, in EPIC, Herstory and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, marks the centenary of partial women’s suffrage, the right of Irish and British women to vote in elections. Individual Irishwomen across the globe struggled for their own professional recognition, and for justice and equality for others.

Dr Angela Byrne, DFAT Historian-in-Residence at EPIC, who curated the exhibition said:

“This is the first time there has been an exhibition celebrating what Irish diaspora women have accomplished. I’m delighted to be bringing these stories to an audience both in Ireland and to the global Irish community. There’s a wider rediscovery and awareness of Irish women’s histories taking place right now which is very encouraging to see.”

Some of the Irish women featured in ‘Blazing a Trail’ include designer and architect Eileen Gray; computer programming pioneer Kay McNulty; poet, mystic and trade unionist Eva Gore-Booth; tennis champion Mabel Cahill; medical missionary Sr Dr Maura Lynch; and ‘most dangerous woman in America’s Mother Jones. As part of the exhibition, Hungarian artist Szabolcs Kariko has created original portraits of several of the women.

Labour right worker Mother Jones.

Labour right worker Mother Jones.

Commenting on those featured in the exhibition Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development Ciarán Cannon, said:

“The 21 women featured in the exhibition led extraordinary lives, yet they are only a small sample of the many outstanding Irish women who made significant contributions both at home and abroad. This exhibition is a fantastic way of honouring and celebrating those women.”

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Emigration offered many women access to education, careers and other opportunities that may not have been available in Ireland. These women made their mark across the globe, innovating in every field and paving the way for others to follow, navigating a male-dominated society on their own terms.

Tennis champion Mabel Cahill

Tennis champion Mabel Cahill

The Irish Herstory Movement tells the stories of contemporary, mythological and historical women. Found of the movement Melanie Lynch said of the new exhibition:

“After three years running Herstory, I have to confess that I had heard of only eight women featured in this exhibition. From our research, we know that the amnesia of women’s stories is not just an Irish problem – this is a global phenomenon. The Blazing a Trail exhibition is only the beginning. Every January, the Herstory Light Festival presents a wonderful opportunity to share new women's stories.”

‘Blazing a Trail’ is free and open to the public at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum in the CHQ Building from Nov 12 to 25, 2018 from 9.30am-6.30pm. The exhibition will then travel to Irish embassies around the world over the coming years. On November 24th and 25th, there will be a Story Collecting Weekend at EPIC to gather new and previously unheard stories of women migrants.

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Featured in "Blazing the Trail": computer programming pioneer Kay McNulty.