Kicking off a celebration of Irish women in history and praising the Matron Saint of Ireland and Celtic goddess in the lead up to Feb 1.

Over the ten years of we’ve always been heartened, come the start of spring, that our passionately Irish-loving audience from around the world has a profound interest in St. Brigid, the oft-forgotten female patron Saint of Ireland and formerly the Pagan goddess linked to the Celtic holiday of Imbolc. It seemed therefore fitting that IrishCentral team up with HerStory in the run-up to St. Brigid and celebrate strong Irish women from history, some of whom you may never have heard of.

Check out the Herstory Light Festival program for Brigid's weekend, featuring landmark light shows, storytelling events, theatre shows, walking tours, and creative workshops for all ages and interests. Events are taking place across the island of Ireland and internationally:

Herstory was created in 2016 when it’s Founder and Director Melanie Lynch noted the lack of women in Ireland’s narrative. As the movement’s website states “in contrast to the handful of women we learn about in Irish schools, Herstory discovered that there are over one thousand remarkable women featured in the Dictionary of Irish Biography. Countless names are missing. The amnesia of women’s stories is not just an Irish problem - this is a global phenomenon.”

Read more: Why Irish women should follow St. Brigid, not just St. Patrick

Lynch tells IrishCentral “Herstory is a compassionate feminist movement. Our focus is empowering the feminine through storytelling, whilst healing the rift between the masculine and feminine.” And what better week than St. Brigid’s Day week to feature just some of these stories on IrishCentral.

A painting of Saint Brigid.

A painting of Saint Brigid.

Lynch delved into the significance of St. Brigid to the Herstory movement pointing out that while the saint from Kildare is Ireland Matron Saint, the Goddess Bríd, the Celtic pagan triple goddess who was re-appropriated by the Church.

The Founder of Herstory went on to tell IrishCentral “The Goddess Bríd is a key feminine icon in Irish mythology. In the context of modern Ireland, she stands as a liberal icon, transcending doctrine and dogma.

“Truth be told, Brigid was the first recorded abortionist, as documented in the Irish annals. She was also a lesbian. What a contradictory and radical character for a Catholic Saint! I’m surprised she wasn’t made into an icon of both the Marriage Equality Referendum and the Referendum to Repeal the Eighth Amendment.”

“What I love about Brigid is it’s impossible to put her into a box.”

What could be more fitting a figure for modern times than that!

A statue dedicated to St. Brigid.

A statue dedicated to St. Brigid.

Lynch firmly believes more focus should be given to St. Brigid’s Day, so much so that Herstory has launched a petition to make Feb 1 a national holiday in Ireland. You can sign the petition here.

“I think you only have to look at the global success of St. Patrick’s Day, the celebration of Ireland’s patron saint, to see how the Irish - at home and abroad - have neglected the feminine and St. Brigid, our matron saint.

The good news is this is changing, slowly but surely. Just like St. Patrick’s Day was regenerated by the Irish diaspora, Irish Embassies and Irish cultural centers around the world are leading the way and starting to make a point of celebrating St. Brigid’s Day. Back home in Ireland, we have some catching up to do.”

Having worked with Lynch over the past few years, here are just some of the stories IrishCentral has featured:

-The three famous Pegs of Irish history and telling Herstory

- 21 pioneering Irish Diaspora women celebrated at Ireland’s embassies around the world

- Before Anna Wintour, the fashion industry was ruled by an Irish woman

- Amazing Irish American female journalist who covered US elections since 1936

* Founded in 2016, the Irish Herstory Movement tells the stories of contemporary, mythological and historical women. The Herstory program features the annual International Herstory Light Festival, Herstory TV Series, Blazing a Trail exhibition for the Irish Embassy network, and a school education program. Discover more on the HerStory website, Facebook, and Twitter.

** Originally published in 2019.