An all-women TEDx is coming to Ireland for Nollaig na mBan

17 Dec 2021

The stage set for the TEDxMerrionSquareWomen event for Nollaig na mBan. Image: Áine Lenihan

Data scientist and event organiser Áine Lenihan said she hopes to make the inaugural event an annual feature on the calendar.

To celebrate Nollaig na mBan (Women’s Christmas) on 6 January 2022, a free, virtual TEDx Talks event featuring all women speakers will be streamed from Dublin’s Merrion Square.

The organiser of the event, Áine Lenihan, said she hopes to make it an annual celebration of the old Irish festive holiday. Speakers already lined up for the TEDxMerrionSquareWomen event include Irish menopause coach and workplace educator Catherine O’Keeffe, as well as communications consultant Sally Murphy, and psychologist and author Susannah Healy. More speakers have yet to be announced.

Lenihan told that she was inspired to bring the event to an Irish audience after she attended a similar all-women TEDx event in Palm Springs at the beginning of December.

Aine Lenihan at the TED Women in Palm Springs.

Lenihan pictured at the main TED Women event in Palm Springs. Image: Áine Lenihan

“It’s so special,” she said of the main TEDWomen idea. “Mary Robinson spoke at this event in 2015, as did Sheryl Sandberg. I am trying to recreate a piece of this in Dublin. This is the inaugural TEDxWomen event in Dublin, in what I hope will be an annual event.”

“I have some amazing speakers sharing ideas and stories, and potentially the first ever TEDx talk as Gaeilge,” she added. The Irish language talk will be delivered by broadcaster Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh.

Bringing an event like this to Ireland was on her mind for some time. Originally, she said she wanted it to be a live event in the Merrion Hotel held over afternoon tea. However, due to pandemic public health restrictions, it has gone virtual. The Merrion Hotel has donated a prize of a free afternoon tea with Champagne for two people. The prize can be won by sharing the event on social media.

Lenihan’s employer IBM is the main sponsor for the 6 January event. The company has helped Lenihan by providing camera operators and other resources.

“Speakers are unpaid, I am not paid. It’s all about the mission to spread ideas and give women a voice,” said Lenihan. The choice of day is significant as Nollaig na mBan is a traditionally a time “when women come together to celebrate the power of fierce friendships and mother-daughter relationships”, Lenihan explained.

Earlier this year, Lenihan organised a virtual event aimed at women working in data science, an idea she also got from a similar event in the US. The Women in Data Science (WiDS) Irish edition was sponsored by IBM as part of a worldwide series run by Stanford University.

Lenihan, who works as a data scientist for IBM, is passionate about encouraging women into STEM careers. She organises events and awareness-raising initiatives under the moniker Data Damsel.

For more information on the upcoming Nollaig na mBan TEDx event, check out the website.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic