As the first Irish public holiday named after a woman, St Brigid’s Day provides a unique opportunity to acknowledge the critical role that women have played in Irish history, culture, and society.

In Celtic mythology, Brigid was a triple goddess – of healing, fire, and of poetry – and the Christian saint who took her name, born in 450 AD, carried some of those same associations as the patron saint of poets and midwives. As such, this bank holiday carries a dual opportunity to recognize the role of women through Ireland's arts and cultural heritage.

Ireland’s National Cultural Institutions have organized a programme of events over the long weekend in response. It is envisaged that following this inaugural year, St Brigid’s Day events will be embedded within the cultural calendar and programming for the National Cultural Institutions.

Our National Cultural Institutions are marking #StBrigidsDay with a series of cultural events to celebrate the role of women in Ireland.

Find out more:áFhéileBríde

— Tourism-Culture-Arts-Gaeltacht-Sport-Media (@DeptCulturelRL) January 30, 2023

Among this year's events, IMMA will open Irish Gothic, a major retrospective by renowned Irish artist Patricia Hurl at IMMA. This marks the first in a series of solo exhibitions at IMMA that will focus on Irish and international women artists throughout the year.

The National Museum of Ireland – Collins Barracks will also present "Bonnets, Bandoliers and Ballot Papers," which offers a unique insight into the changing role of women during the transformational first decades of the 20th century through the lens of artifacts in the collection.

There will also be a range of community-based events organized by the local authorities as part of their Culture and Creativity Strategies under Creative Ireland in Galway, Kerry, Louth, Offaly, Roscommon, Tipperary, and Kildare. 

Herstory Light Show is leading festivities by illuminating a number of local landmarks with art of Brigid and Irish goddesses across several locations in Ireland. 

This weekend #Herstory starts the national #StBrigidsDay #Imbolc celebrations with a spectacular Festival of Light across Ireland, illuminating iconic landmarks with beautiful art of Brigid and women from all walks of life.

— HerstoryIreland (@HerstoryIreland) January 25, 2023

A giant Sliabh na mBan Cloak prepared by local women will be unveiled in Tipperary, while Kildare County Council has planned a programme of events celebrating its unique links with St. Brigid.

Check out the many events planned for our @brigid1500 programme over the next week to celebrate St Brigid, her life and legacy, walking tours, music, light shows.

Something for everyone!

For full list of events:

— Kildare County Council (@KildareCoCo) January 30, 2023

Elsewhere, Herself – a large-scale public ‘projection project’ – will take place in Galway on February 4. In collaboration with local community groups, artists Shona MacGillivray and Jill Beardsworth have identified women whose lives and work embody the qualities that Brigid is known for. Individual moving portraits of each woman have been filmed and layered with visuals representing their ‘Brigid’ qualities. The images will be projected at dusk on the neo-classical 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.

'Herself' is a large-scale public projection that takes place in Gort on Sunday February 5th.

In honour of St. Brigid: goddess, protector, provider, healer, creator.

A powerful female icon whose qualities exist in all our communities. @GalwayCoCo

— Creative Ireland (@creativeirl) January 30, 2023

Meanwhile, Mná100, a key element of the Decade of Centenaries Programme, have partnered with the Department of Foreign Affairs Irish Embassy in Delhi, India, to produce a short film piece on the life of Roscommon woman Margaret Cousins. Cousins worked for suffrage, the rights of women, and gender equality both in Ireland and in India. This piece looks at her lasting legacy in Ireland and India to this day.

A number of Irish Embassies and Consulates will also organize events this year, 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.

Catherine Martin, Ireland's Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport, and Media, said: “I look forward greatly to the inaugural Saint Brigid’s Day bank holiday, also known as Imbolc, which heralds the beginning of spring, a time of growth and renewal. This presents a unique opportunity to reflect upon the vital role that Irish women have played in building, sustaining, and inspiring our nation.

“I look forward to working with the National Cultural Institutions to further embed St Brigid’s Day into their annual programmes for 2024 and beyond.”

The first Irish public holiday named after a woman is almost upon us

To celebrate St Brigid's Day bank holiday, we've launched a cultural programme to celebrate women in Ireland in Ireland's National Cultural Institutions.

Ag súil go mór leis! #Imbolc

— Catherine Martin TD (@cathmartingreen) January 30, 2023

You can learn more about the St Brigid's Day events scheduled for Ireland's National Cultural Institutions here.