Ahead of the feast day of Ireland's female patron saint, Brigid, IrishCentral and Herstory share the responses to their survey "What does it mean to be an Irish woman?"

In honor of Brigid's Day, Feb 1, IrishCentral and Herstory asked the world "What it means to be an Irish woman?" and the results of our survey were beautiful and surprising. We wanted to reach out to women on the island of Ireland and the Irish diaspora at large to find out what makes the venerable Irish woman tick. We asked them about their influences, life lessons, and how they feel connected to the island of Ireland.

The IrishCentral and Herstory survey had responses from all over the United States, and from Australia, Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. 

In the run of up to St. Brigid's Day, we will share some of the Irish community's responses to our questions and this is the first...

Who is your Irish heroine and why?

St. Brigid

"She performed many miracles.  She looked after farmers, fed the poor etc"

"A strong woman of faith and purpose. She respected the natural world."

"Brigid, the goddess, as she was fiesty and the epitome of using feminine power."

"I admire how she chose to lead her life in very difficult circumstances"


"My grandmother, Ellen Agnes O'Grady Maguire. She lived in Belfast born in 1880, died in 1931. When the British would raid the houses of Catholics, she would roll up letters from Catholic priests in her long dark hair so that when they searched the house the letters wouldn't be found."

"My grandmother because she had inner strength and love for all."

"My great-grandmother. She emigrated as a child due to the potato famine and after she married. She took care of her family living in tents, working because her husband was sick. She was the first woman to buy property in their town. "

"My nanny who is no longer with us was head cook (because women couldn't be given the title chef) in a male-dominated industry who was incredibly progressive and, along with my grandad, instilled in her daughters and grandchildren the thought that we are equal and every role is any person's role if they want it."

"My grandmothers who were guides to our family."

"My maternal Grandmother, Lizzie Fitzgibbons Hayes. Her husband, John Hayes, died at work when the children were very young. Some of them being young teens got jobs. How she raised those children by herself has always amazed me."

Grace O'Malley

"Grace O'Malley is definitely an inspiration. A strong bagasse woman!"

"A sovereign, fearless woman in a patriarchal political world."

"I think that she is so cool as one remarkable woman in Irish history."

"An independent strong woman long before it was acceptable to do so."

Vicky Phelan

"I have lots from Granuaille to Mary Robinson.  But today... there can only be one.  It had to our brave and loyal Vicky Phelan.  Her tenacity, her sense of justice and fairness her intelligence her resolute determination to not let one other woman suffer in silence.  Only for her, the cervical scandal would have disappeared."

Constance Markievicz

"She was involved in necessary armed struggle for the Irish revolution"

"Countess Markievicz showed that women were part of the founding of the state and have a role on the battle lines and in the cabinet. Wish more women were covered in the school history curriculum."

Mary Robinson

"Social issues began to be more addressed by lawmakers since Mary was president."

"She rose above politics and united the people of Ireland and continues this in her work for the United Nations."


"My Mom who raised me and my sister during the '50s and '60s... kept a spotless house, cooked meals each and every day, helped with our school lessons and was always there when we needed her. Simple things that we all take for granted when we are young."

"My mother because she dealt with what life threw at her and never complained about it." 

"My mother because of her arduous journey to America and dealing with the hardships thrown at her."

"My mother and my best friends have shown me how to be resilient in the face of so much adversity and they inspire me to be a better person."