Ireland’s Women Take Over Embassy

Irelands Women Take Over Embassy
Sharon Horgan

Ireland’s Women Take Over Embassy

By Bernard Purcell

The Embassy of Ireland in London will next week welcome Spring with a celebration of Irish femininity and creativity, St. Brigid’s Day – Celebrating the Creativity of Women or as Gaeilge: Lá Fhéile Bríde – Ag Ceiliúradh Cruthaitheachta na mBan

It is marking St Brigid’s Day with an event highlighting the creativity and achievements of Irish women in the arts, business, science and academia in Ireland, here in the UK and abroad.

St Brigid’s Feast Day was originally a pagan festival called Imbolc, marking the beginning of Spring. After a long dark winter, the first day of February, Lá Fhéile Bríde, traditionally celebrated the arrival of longer, warmer days and the early signs of spring. In the pagan tradition the day also celebrates Brigid’s divine femininity.

Among the women taking part are several who have been successful in the UK and internationally as well as in Ireland.

Ireland’s Ambassador to the UK Adrian O’Neill told the Irish World: “This Embassy initiative offers a wonderful opportunity to celebrate talented and creative women from a wide range of backgrounds. St. Brigid’s Day traditionally represents the beginning of spring in Ireland and we see it as an apt occasion to celebrate the many talented women who contribute so much to Irish and British life.”

Irelands Women Take Over Embassy

Lá Fhéile Bríde 2018 will host twelve different performances, talks and panel discussions over the afternoon and evening of 1st February in a variety of spaces throughout the historic Embassy building. The day will celebrate the enormous contribution and talent of women in such diverse fields as music, film, comedy, architecture, poetry, literature, fashion, art, theatre, craft, business and entrepreneurship, science and technology.

Among some of the well-known Irish women taking part will be the award-winning TV actor, writer and producer Sharon Horgan, international fashion designer Orla Kiely, Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon, comedian Roisin Conaty, musician Keeva and cabaret artiste Camille O’ Sullivan.

Displayed throughout the embassy building will be paintings by the artist Pauline Bewick.

Irish organisations and individuals across the UK have come together to help support and build this event with the embassy and its event production team.


SHARON HORGAN is a BAFTA winning Irish actor, writer, producer and director who is perhaps best known for her multiple award-winning sitcom Catastrophe, and for the earlier series Pulling which she co-wrote and starred in. She created, wrote and produced Divorce for HBO which stars Sarah Jessica Parker. This year Sharon will star alongside Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman and Kyle Chandler in the new Warner Brothers feature film Game Night.

ORLA KIELY founded her eponymous brand in 1995 as a small collection of accessories commissioned exclusively by Harrods following her graduation from the Royal College of Art. She turned it into a design company that embodies colour and print, drawing on her own passion for mid-century design. Orla was awarded an OBE for services to Fashion and Business in 2011 and the title of Visiting Professor of Textiles at the Royal College of Art.

PAULINE MCLYNN is currently on stage at the Park Theatre, London, in Daisy Pulls It Off. Pauline’s television credits include her well known award-winning role as Mrs Doyle in Father Ted (Channel 4). She has also appeared in Eastenders (BBC), Father Figure (BBC), Threesome (Comedy Central), Shameless (Channel 4), The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff (BBC) Pramface (BBC) Jam and Jerusalem (BBC), Bremner, Bird and Fortune (Channel 4), High Hopes (BBC), French and Saunders (BBC), TV To Go (BBC), The Dark Ages (ITV), It Happened Last Year, Dalziel and Pascoe, Family, Aristocrats and Ballykissangel all for BBC. Pauline has also appeared in Jim Sheridan’s Secret Scripture, Stephen Bradley’s Noble and Angela’s Ashes. She also has multiple theatre credits and has published eight novels.

UNA FOX is a senior technology executive at The Walt Disney Company based in Burbank, California. She has over 15 years of senior leadership experience leading sales and marketing partnership and technology programs and initiatives at some of the world’s leading brands. Prior to joining Disney, Una was a Director at Yahoo Inc., and also held various leadership roles at KPMG in Paris, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Una has focused most of her career on incubating and developing technologies to allow companies to manage consumer relationships. She is also currently a member of the Irish Technology Leadership Group. She began her technology career at Cisco Systems in Europe and has a BA in French Literature from University College Cork, Ireland.

EMMA DABIRI is a writer and broadcaster. She is currently finishing her PhD Mixed Race: a Ghost Story at Goldsmiths. Emma also teaches in the Africa department at SOAS and is writing her first book A History of Hair which will be published by Penguin in 2018. She appears frequently on TV and radio, with credits ranging from Back in Time Brixton (BBC2) The Sweetmakers (BBC2) as well as presenting history shorts for The One Show. Emma is currently filming series 3 of Britain’s Lost Masterpieces (BBC4).

ROISIN CONATY is an actor, comedian and writer from London. She is best known for GameFace (2017) which she created and stars in, Ricky Gervais’ film David Brent: Life on the Road (2016) and Man Down (since 2013). A celebrated stand-up, Roisin won the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award 2010 for Best Newcomer. She appears regularly on comedy panel shows shows such as Live at the Apollo, Have I Got News For You, 8 out of 10 Cats does Countdown and Would I Lie To You.

…celebrating Brigid’s divine femininity…

ANGELA SCANLON is a popular presenter and television host. She co-hosts the legendary BBC2 show Robot Wars alongside Dara Ó Briain, is a regular presenter on The One Show and has recently joined BBC Radio 2, presenting their late night playlists. Earlier this year she fronted a BBC One documentary ‘World’s Oldest Family’. She has previously hosted documentaries and shows on topics as diverse as extreme makeovers, nudity, WWE, books, babies, travel and the BBC’s live coverage of ‘T in the Park’.

ANGELA BRADY is a past president of RIBA (2011-2013), and graduated in Architecture from the Dublin Institute of Technology with a post graduate scholarship in Copenhagen. She is a director of award winning Brady Mallalieu Architects, set up with Robin Mallalieu in 1997 specialising in quality contemporary sustainable design based in London. She was chair of RIBA Women in Architecture (2000-2005) and promotes more women into construction and is a design champion. As a professional TV broadcaster Angela co wrote and co presented the TV series Designing Ireland about Irish Architecture, Craft, Industrial Design and Design Thinking. In 2016 Angela was awarded an OBE and the Irish Presidents Distinguished Service Award, both for services to Architecture and Design.

KEEVA grew up between Jordan, County Laois, and London and is now a London-based recording artist and singer who quietly posted two songs online that attracted the attention of Grammy-nominated production team Austin Jenkins and Josh Block (aka Niles City Sound).

ÚNA BURKE is a multi-award winning Leatherworker, Accessories Designer and Artist, born in Ireland and now living in London. Her work has been exhibited in art galleries across Europe, the US, Asia and the UAE with commissions from private and public art and fashion collectors including those of New York Designer ‘Phillip Lim’, Seoul’s ‘Simone Handbag Museum’ and Daphne Guinness. She made several pieces for The Hunger Games parts 2 and 3, and costumes for music videos for Taylor Swift. Other admirers of her work include Rihanna, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Cindy Crawford, Fifth Harmony, Nicki Minaj, Ellen Pompeo, Rachel Stevens, Heidi Klum.

PAMELA NEWENHAM is the co-founder of GirlCrew, a global community for women to make new friends, share advice, and network in a social and professional capacity. Which has more than 45,000 members across 47 cities worldwide, including Dublin, London, San Francisco, Toronto, New York, Brussels, Liverpool and Melbourne. GirlCrew members make new friends through online group chat and offline events such as brunches, nights out, career events, cinema trips and even holidays abroad. The start-up was selected for Google’s Adopt a Start-up programme, and was an Irish winner of the EU Welcome Project Initiative. Pamela is also a business journalist with The Irish Times, specialising in technology, startups, entrepreneurship and business.

URSULA RANI SARMA is an internationally-acclaimed writer and director of Irish-Indian descent. She has written fifteen plays for companies such as The Royal National Theatre London, A.C.T San Francisco, The Abbey Theatre in Dublin, and The Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. She is a former writer in residence positions for the National Theatre. Ursula is the Course Leader on the MA in Scriptwriting at Bath Spa University.

Ag Ceiliúradh Cruthaitheachta na mBan…

CAMILLE O’SULLIVAN is a cabaret artiste and actress who was born in London to a French mother and Irish father. She moved to Cork, Ireland when she was a child. She studied Fine Art Painting for a year and then went to UCD and graduated as an Architect, winning the prestigious Architectural Association of Ireland Award in 2000. She lectured in University and exhibited in the Royal Hibernian Academy as a painter..

DR RACHEL MCLOUGHLIN received her PhD in Immunology from the University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff, UK and did postdoctoral training at the School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, UK and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, USA before obtaining a faculty position as Assistant Professor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. In 2010 she was awarded a Wellcome Trust Career Development Award, which facilitated a move to Trinity College Dublin where she established the Host Pathogen Interactions Group within the School of Biochemistry and Immunology. In 2016 Dr McLoughlin was made a fellow of Trinity College Dublin and in 2017 she received the Science Foundation Ireland early career researcher of the year award.

MAUREEN KENNELLY has been director of Poetry Ireland since October 2013. She was director of Kilkenny Arts Festival, Artistic Director of the Mermaid Arts Centre and Programme Director with the Cúirt International Festival of Literature. She is a member of the governing body of University College Cork, a member of the expert advisory committee of Culture Ireland. A native of Ballylongford, Co Kerry, she is a graduate of UCD and NUIG.

CATRIONA CROWE, a former Head of Special Projects at the National Archives of Ireland, is Chair of the Irish Theatre Institute, Honorary President of the Irish Labour History Society, and a former President of the Women’s History Association. She is Chairperson of the SAOL Project, a rehabilitation initiative for women with addiction problems, based in Dublin’s North Inner City, and also Chairperson of the Inner City Renewal Group. She is a member of the Royal Irish Academy.

Twelve different performances, talks and panel discussions…

ISEULT WARD is co-founder and CEO of the award winning social enterprise FoodCloud. In four years, FoodCloud has grown to 3,200 retail stores across the UK and Ireland donating surplus food through its software platform to over 7,500 charities. In 2017 she received a Humanitarian Award from the Muhammad Ali Centre in Kentucky, the EY Special Achievement Award and Image Business Woman of the Year award.

PROFESSOR ANGELA BOURKE is Professor Emerita of Irish-Language Studies in the UCD School of Irish, Celtic Studies and Folklore. Professor Bourke has taught at UCD for over 30 years. She has also been a Visiting Professor at Harvard University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Notre Dame, and has also taught at Boston College. Professor Bourke’s essay on the traditions of St Brigid was published in 1999, entitled Irish Stories of Weather, Time, and Gender: Saint Brigid.

VONA GROARKE has published seven collections of poetry with Gallery Press, most recently X (2014) and Selected Poems, awarded the Pigott Prize for the best Irish book of poetry in 2016. Her book-length essay on artframes, Four Sides Full, was also published in 2016. Her poems have recently appeared in The New Yorker, Ploughshares and Threepenny Review. She is a Senior Lecturer in poetry at the University of Manchester

TARA BERGIN was born in, and grew up in, Dublin. Her second collection, The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx (Carcanet), was named as one of the best poetry books of 2017 by The Times and was shortlisted for both the T.S. Eliot and the Forward Prize. Tara currently lives in the North of England and lectures part-time at Newcastle University.

MARTINA EVANS grew up in County Cork and moved to London in 1988. A prize-winning poet and novelist, she is the author of eleven books of prose and poetry including The Windows of Graceland: New and Selected Poems Carcanet 2016. Now We Can Talk Openly About Men will be published by Carcanet in 2018. Martina is a Royal Literary Fund Advisory Fellow as well as a freelance teacher and reviewer.

…talented women who contribute so much to Irish and British life…

JEN COPPINGER is Head of Producing (New Work Development) at the Abbey Theatre. She is Chairperson of Youth Theatre Ireland and is a member of the board of Theatre Forum. Jen is an Artist Research Fellow at Queen Mary University of London.

RACHEL O’RIORDAN is the Artistic Director of Sherman Theatre, for whom she has directed The Cherry Orchard, Killology (Royal Court Theatre); The Weir ( Tobacco Factory Theatres); Bird (& Royal Exchange Theatre); The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, A Doll’s House, Iphigenia in Splott (National Theatre and UK/International tour), Romeo and Juliet and Arabian Nights. Iphigenia in Splott won both the UK Theatre Awards’ Best New Play and the James Tait Black Prize for Drama. It was the first production from Wales to transfer to the National Theatre. She holds a PhD from the University of Ulster.

MARINA CARR is a playwright whose work has been produced by The Abbey Theatre, The Gate, Druid, The Royal Court, Wyndhams Theatre, The RSC, The Tricycle, The MacCarter Theatre, San Diego Rep, Milwaukee Rep and who has been translated into many languages and produced around the world. She lectures in the English department at Dublin City University.

FIONA MITCHELL is RTÉ’s London correspondent, a post she has held since 2015. She is originally from Tullamore and a graduate of NUI Galway and a former RTÉ news editor.

JULIE SINNAMON is CEO of Enterprise Ireland, where she has worked directly with some of Ireland’s best-known food brands. Julie is a business graduate of the University of Ulster, has a Masters in International Business (Fordham and IMI) and is a graduate of the Stanford Executive Programme, USA. She is originally from Crossgar, Co. Down and is married with two adult children.

ALISON SPITTLE is an Irish comedian, actress and writer who has worked for RTÉ Radio wrote the short film, Alison Spittle in Ireland for Sky Arts and created, wrote and starred in the sit-com Nowhere Fast in 2017 for RTÉ and BBC worldwide.

Tickets for Lá Fhéile Bríde 2018 are now sold out, but there is a waiting list available via the Eventbrite page:

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