Herstory festival of light illuminates the Irish women who did the extraordinary

5 Jan 2017

Amy De Bhrún in costume and character as Irish aviatrix Lady Mary Heath. Image: Andres Poveda

To mark Women’s Little Christmas across Ireland, libraries, museums and other iconic buildings will be lit up with the images of Irish women whose amazing achievements are often overlooked by history.

The 20th century alone saw amazing achievements by Irish women such as designer Eileen Gray, astronomer Agnes Mary Clerke and world-renowned aviatrix Lady Mary Heath.

But all too often, these women are rarely mentioned in the history books or media.

The all-island event, produced by the Herstory team and Lesley Tulley, head of design thinking at Bank of Ireland, aims to eliminate the statement: “I’ve never heard of her”.

“Our mission is to tell the multifaceted, lost, forgotten and untold life stories of Irish women from history and today; to capture their individual characters, achievements, and the patriarchal dogma they challenged,” the organisers said.

“Over centuries, the world, along with our small nation, has forgotten half of everything. The stories of women from the past, present and future, will now be heard and will never be lost again.”

Be enlightened

Starting this evening from 5pm, the new light festival will celebrate Nollaig na mBan by illuminating images in public places.

In Cork, for example, the Cork County Council building on Carrigrohane Road will celebrate Eliza Lynch, Agnes Mary Clerke, Mary Elmes, Rita Lynch, Alicia Boole Stott and Edith Somerville.

In Dublin, there will be light installations at Palace Street Offices as well as Smock Alley Theatre, the Irish Writers’ Centre and the James Joyce Centre, to name a few.

In Limerick, there will be illuminations of Lady Mary Heath on the façade of the Hunt Museum.

In Dublin, actress and playwright Amy De Bhrún has written a new play about Lady Mary Heath entitled ‘I See You’. She will be giving an intro performance this Sunday in the Epic Ireland Museum.

In all, there will be illumination events in Cork, Down, Dublin, Fermanagh, Galway, Leitrim, Limerick, Louth, Sligo, Tipperary, Tyrone and Waterford.

A full schedule of events can be accessed here.

To get a sense of the achievements of Irish women often overlooked by media and history, check them out here.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years