Fem Fest running at Mary Immaculate College for the first time

Fem Fest taking place at MIC for the first time.

Fem Fest taking place at MIC for the first time.

Fem Fest at Mary Immaculate College to highlight women’s achievements

The inaugural Fem Fest at Mary Immaculate College will run from 5-15 February. The programme of events will include musical and theatrical performances, art exhibitions, lectures, seminars on diverse topics such as women in the film and sports arenas, and much more. All events are free unless specified.

The festival will begin on Tuesday 5 February at 12 noon with a talk on Fair Plé, a movement dedicated to achieving gender balance in all aspects of Irish traditional and folk music, and will be opened officially at 1 pm by Dr Niamh Hourigan, MIC’s incoming Vice-President of Academic Affairs. After the opening remarks, there will be a concert featuring musicians, Niamh Dunne and Emma Langford. 

Festival highlights include the Irish Women’s Writing Network Seminar on Friday 8 February. Martina Devlin will read from her recently published collection of short stories, Truth and Dare: Stories About Women Who Shaped Ireland. Donna Gilligan will talk about women’s suffrage. Lizzie Nunnery will talk about her critically lauded play, To Have to Shoot Irishmen; a play about the Sheehy-Skeffington. MIC’s BA in Contemporary and Applied Theatre students will also perform a short scene from the play.

On Tuesday 12 February, Fem Fest hosts a sports event highlighting and acknowledging the often-overshadowed sporting achievements and leadership of MIC’s female students and staff (past and present). MC for this event is Máire Treasa Ní Dhubhghaill of TG4’s Rugbaí Beo. 

MIC lecturer and Chair of the organising committee, Dr Dorothy Morrissey, said that the inspiration for Fem Fest came from a successful production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues by the College’s female staff and postgraduate students for International Women’s Day last year. It was decided to host a festival highlighting the experiences and achievements of women more broadly and February was chosen because the month opens with the feast of St Brigid and 14 February or V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls.

Dr Morrissey said “I am excited by the range of events taking place as part of Fem Fest MIC. It’s a great honour to be a part of an event honouring the diversity of women’s experiences and achievements since the 1880s. MIC itself was founded in 1898 and run, at its outset, by women for women. It is fitting, therefore, that MIC should host a festival about women’s experiences and achievements. So come along and either sit back and enjoy what is on offer or add your voice to the conversations that will unfold.” 

Physical violence is never far from the surface in women’s writings about women’s suffrage, the subject of a seminar on 8 February. Physical violence also looms large in Molly Daly’s lunchtime lecture on Bridget Cleary on 12 February. American poet, essayist and feminist Adrienne Rich wrote that “in a world where language and naming are power, silence is oppression is violence”. Many of the speakers at Fem Fest speak into this silence, whether it be that of women filmmakers (the subject of a panel discussion on Wednesday 6 February or that of women in Irish traditional music (the subject of the opening lunchtime lecture on Tuesday 5 February).

Other events: Performance poets, Sarah Clancy, Illyana Kuhling and Kathryn Keane will read and perform from their work at lunchtime on 7 February. Professional theatre artist, and MIC PhD candidate, Aideen Wylde, will perform her one-woman play, Here Shall We Rest in a lunchtime performance on 8 February and two evening performances on 7 and 8 February. Two art exhibitions will run throughout the festival: Hunting the wren, female head pieces, an exhibition by former MIC lecturer Sinéad Dinneen, which depicts contemporary ceremonial headpieces with ancient and historic connotations, and We are the flock by MIC lecturer Tanya de Paor—an installation of video, narrative and lens-based work from an ecofeminist perspective.

Fem Fest also highlights the scholarship of MIC staff and postgraduate students in the area of women’s experiences and achievements. Staff across a range of disciplines and departments will provide lunchtime lectures on such diverse topics as representations of girlhood in Peter Pan (Jade Dillon); MIC’s first graduates (Dr Paul O’Brien); Paula Meehan’s poetry (Dr John McDonagh) and the representation of female migrants in contemporary Irish literature (Dr Marita Ryan). In addition, some of MIC’s lecturers will open their classes to the College community and to the public as part of Fem Fest.

For full programme visit https://www.mic.ul.ie/news/2019-01-22/fem-fest-2019

You can follow Fem Fest on Twitter @FemFestMIC.

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