A RAFT of cultural events will take place across Ireland this weekend to mark the nation’s new bank holiday honouring St Brigid.
The full programme of Government-supported events was announced this week, to celebrate the first bank holiday in Ireland to be held in honour of a female.
Monday, February 6 has been designated as the Imbolc/St Brigid’s Day public holiday for 2023, meaning people across Ireland get to enjoy a long weekend.
St Brigid’s Day itself falls on February 1 each year but going forward the Imbolc/St Brigid’s Day public holiday will fall on the first Monday in February, unless February 1st falls on a Friday, it has been confirmed.
“From 2023 there will be a new permanent public holiday established in celebration of Imbolc/St Brigid’s Day,” the Irish Government stated on January 30.
“In Ireland, the first of February marks the beginning of Spring and the celebration of Lá Fhéile Bríde, St Brigid’s Day,” they added.
“Like many of other feast days of the Irish calendar, Brigid predates Christianity – her roots lie in the Celtic festival of Imbolc, the feast of the goddess Brigid, celebrated at least five millennia ago.
“In old Irish, Imbolc means "in the belly", a reference to lambing and the renewal Spring promises.”
Now the Government is determined to ensure Ireland’s inaugural bank holiday celebrations properly mark the role of St Brigid and all women across Ireland.
“As the first Irish public holiday named after a woman, St Brigid’s Day provides a unique opportunity to acknowledge the critical role that women have played in Irish history, culture and society,” an Irish Government spokesperson said as details of the cultural events they have planned were revealed.
“In Celtic mythology, Brigid was a triple goddess – of healing, fire, and of poetry – and the Christian saint who took her name, born in 450 AD, carried some of those same associations as the patron saint of poets and midwives,” they added.
“As such, this bank holiday carries a dual opportunity to recognise the role of women through our arts and cultural heritage.
“Our National Cultural Institutions have organised an exciting programme of events over the long weekend in response,” they explained.
“This includes exhibitions at IMMA and the National Museum celebrating the work of seminal Irish women artists and political pioneers.
“The National Museum of Ireland – Collins Barracks will also present Bonnets, Bandoliers and Ballot Papers, which offers a unique insight into the changing role of women during the transformational first decades of the 20th century through the lens of artefacts in the collection.
“These are just a selection of the numerous events taking place at the National Cultural Institutions, with further details available on individual institutions’ websites.”
A number of Irish Embassies and Consulates will also organise events this year, celebrating the pioneering role of Irish women in various aspects of life.
The programme is designed to showcase Ireland’s "commitment to diversity and gender equality by celebrating the achievements of women, and acknowledging women’s contribution across the world".
Ireland’s Culture Minister, Catherine Martin said of the St Brigid’s public holiday plans: “I look forward greatly to the inaugural Saint Brigid’s Day bank holiday, also known as Imbolc, which heralds the beginning of spring, a time of growth and renewal.
“This presents a unique opportunity to reflect upon the vital role that Irish women have played in building, sustaining and inspiring our nation.”
She added: “I look forward to working with the National Cultural Institutions to further embed St Brigid’s Day into their annual programmes for 2024 and beyond.”