Please credit: Herstory Light Show by Dodeca at Belvedere House & Gardens, Westmeath / Photographer Steve O'Connor

Herstory lights up Belvedere's Jealous Wall

To celebrate St Brigid’s Day the spectacular Herstory Light Show by Dodeca illuminated iconic landmarks across Ireland including Belvedere House in Mullingar.

Themes honouring the victims of the Mother and Baby Homes, as well as COVID heroines and heroes, Black Lives Matter, ‘Women who have Arrived’, and Brigids of the World, illuminated the likes of Galway City Museum, St Brigid’s Cathedral, Kildare; Sean Ross Abbey, Roscrea; Athlone Castle, Birr Castle in Offaly and Belvedere House.

The aim is to lift Ireland’s spirits and celebrate the return of the light.

The first of February marks the beginning of Spring and the Celtic festival of Imbolc, once honoured as the feast of the goddess.

Herstory is calling on the Irish public and our diaspora to sign the petition to make Brigid’s Day a national holiday and celebrate Ireland’s triple goddess and matron Saint Brigid equally to our world-renowned patron Saint Patrick.

“This year the Herstory Light Show journeys into the very heart of Ireland, to awaken the healing powers of Brigid and the compassion to process the wound of the Mother and Baby Home scandal,” says Herstory founder Melanie Lynch.

“Ireland is left disturbed and heartbroken by the cruel and inexcusable treatment of mothers and children. Their trauma is the nation’s trauma.

"As Nelson Mandela once said, ‘There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.’

"I am calling on our politicians and government to join us and support Ireland as she heals, rising to become one of the most compassionate, caring and inclusive countries in the world.“

From the shadows into the light, iconic landmarks will illuminate in honour of the mothers and children who suffered in the Mother & Baby Homes; featuring portraits of the survivors by Karen Morgan, powerful haiku poetry by Laura Murphy, and thought-provoking art from the Stay with Me Show curated by activist Rachael Keogh and journalist Alison O’ Reilly.

‘Sovereignty’ is a specially commissioned photographic series created by photographer Myriam Riand and conceptual artist Áine O’Brien that reclaims and reimagines the mother archetype which has been historically dictated and defined by Church and State.

Now Mná na hÉireann are reclaiming our sovereignty, sexuality and spirituality.

“Our aim of this project is to illuminate the spark in Irish women's hearts. Showing Ireland the diversity and strength of its women. A walk through the portal to a world where the feminine is adored, nurtured and protected. A transformation. To let go of the past, rebirth the now and live in their new found sovereign power.” explains conceptual artist Áine O’ Brien.

Herstory founder and CEO Melanie Lynch continues:

“Throughout the curation process I felt strongly that we had to illuminate the survivors and victims not only on the Mother and Baby Homes but also on castles, to give them royal treatment after the hell they have endured and the humanity they have been deprived of.

“Mothers and children were shunned, rejected and made invisible. Herstory will continue to illuminate landmarks and spotlight their stories and portraits until justice is served. They will never be forgotten or ignored again.”

“Today’s Ireland is different from the Ireland that allowed these human rights violations to happen. The Marriage Equality and Repeal the 8th referendums presented opportunities to revisit our dark histories and courageously heal our individual and collective traumas. Together as a nation we processed through judgement, shame, guilt, fear and anger. What emerged were extraordinary victories of compassion. The great irony is that compassion is the true Christianity. Now every citizen is called to stand with the survivors and their families, hold them in our hearts and ensure they get the justice they deserve.”

Herstory ran an open call to the public to nominate their heroines for the light show inspired by four timely themes, with a special tribute to the heroines and heroes of the pandemic: women and men who have battled the virus and the ordinary people who have played a role in these challenging times including teachers, chefs, farmers, shopkeepers, cleaners, postmen, journalists, nurses, doctors, and more.

Herstory supports Black Lives Matters and gives the platform to the black community to celebrate historic and modern black heroines in Ireland and across the world. This is an opportunity to share your stories, challenges and insights on how we can co-create an inclusive, multi-cultural Ireland together.

The Women who have Arrived theme reimagines the crone archetype for a progressive world, honouring our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers. In pre-Christian Ireland the crone was the most powerful of the three Celtic life archetypes and honoured as the time when a woman came into her true power and sovereignty. In contrast, today women over 50 are almost invisible in popular culture, overshadowed by an irrational fixation on youth and the maiden archetype.

Finally, Brigids of the World spotlights the fact that Brigid was a pan-European goddess long before she was a saint. A unifying force across Europe, she was celebrated from Spain to Turkey. In an open call artists were invited to capture the modern, multi-cultural Brigid in all her fiery glory. What are the issues close to her heart? How would she wield her fire to challenge corruption and injustice? As a master of the arts, what wisdom and insights would she share through her creativity?

A heartfelt thanks to the Women’s Fund at the Community Foundation for Ireland for funding this spectacular light show and lifting Ireland's spirits as we celebrate the start of Spring and the return of the light. Y

ou can follow the event on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtags #Herstory #BrigidsDay from 6pm on Sunday January 31, until midnight on Monday February 1.

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