Following on the immense success of its first-ever celebration of Ireland’s women for St Brigid’s Day, the Embassy of Ireland is hosting an exhibition in Westminster dedicated to the Irish saint.
Ninety women artists were invited to 90 works of art by women artists to celebrate the saint whose feast day traditionally occurs each year on the first of February.
They were given the poem ‘St. Brigid’s Day 1989’, by Irish poet Leland Bardwell, as a starting point to work from.
In pre-Christian Ireland, Imbolc, or Candlemas (1-2 February) signified the beginning of Spring and fertility, including the lambing season, and was the time to celebrate the Celtic Goddess Brigid (Brighde, Bríd) the Celtic Goddess of inspiration, healing, and associated with fire, the hearth, storytelling and poetry.
In Ireland, in the 5th century, the goddess Brigid’s festival was Christianised to become Saint Brigid’s Day as the mantle of the Goddess Brigid was passed to Saint Brigid who was born at Faughart, near Dundalk, Co. Louth and who founded a monastery in Kildare where she ended her days.
The exhibition, at the 12 Star Gallery in the European Commission offices in Westminster, is in association with the Hamilton Gallery in Sligo, owned and run by jewellery maker Martina Hamilton.
Ireland’s Ambassador Adrian O’Neil will launch the exhibition next week on 22 January and the gallery will be open to public viewing from 23 January to 1 February when it will end with a cultural celebration of women and creativity led by Irish actor Olwyn Fouéré.
Hamilton Gallery Director Martina Hamilton said: “Curating this exhibition was an absolute joy. We contacted 90 women artists and 90 women artists submitted work. The eclecticism and diversity of response really reflects how deeply we hold, celebrate and quite often struggle with our cultural heritage.”