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Illuminate Herstory 2016 new festival during Nollaig na mBan

Illuminate Herstory 2016. Venus by Botticelli Festival of Lights. Photo: 36 Degrees.

A new light festival celebrating women and girls will light up Irish homes and towns this January, and the organisers are inviting the public to get involved. As the Christmas lights go out over the weekend of Nollaig na mBan (Women’s Little Christmas) on Thursday, January 5 to Sunday, January 8 2017, Illuminate Herstory 2016 will light up the country with images of women, bringing them out of the shadows and into the light. Just as St. Patrick’s Day inspires the world to go green, Illuminate Herstory 2016 invites the world to celebrate women. 

2017 is the first year of this new festival and all four provinces of Ireland are participating, from Down to Tipperary, Dublin to Galway. County and city councils have commissioned light installations and arts organisations are hosting illumination events around the country. 

Illuminate Herstory 2016

Maeve and the High King.

Exhibitions, performances and talks will take place in participating venues including the Mick Lally Theatre, The Ireland Institute, Irish Writer’s Centre, EPIC Museum, James Joyce Centre, An Táin Arts Centre, Dundalk; Down County Museum, Newry and Mourne Museum, and Tipperary County Museum, amongst others. The festival is produced by Lesley Tully and the Herstory team.

Founder and director of Herstory, Melanie Lynch, is asking people to get involved by hosting their own Illuminate Herstory event and celebrating the women they love. “Nollaig na mBan is a treasured Irish tradition, especially in rural Ireland,” she said.

Illuminate Herstory 2016

Taillti Erinsaga by Jim Fitzpatrick.

“In the dark month of January we chose the theme of light. We want to start the year with optimism and hope as we strive for equality for all. The Irish are known as the best storytellers in the world, but until now we have only told half the story. Illuminate Herstory is an event for the people, and it’s really easy to get involved and pay tribute to the women you love.” 


How to Get Involved 

  1. Organise an Illuminate Herstory gathering in your home or community centre over the weekend of 5 – 8 January. It’s so simple – all you need is a projector and collection of photos. There are projectors in every school, pub and boardroom in the country! Invite your friends and family to join you for an evening of celebration and storytelling. Each guest brings a photograph of a woman they want to celebrate, sharing herstory as her photograph illuminates on the wall.
  1. If you have a business premises, illuminate your building in orange floodlights in support of women. Orange is the colour theme for this new light festival, symbolising the feminine themes of creativity, warmth, optimism and joy.
  2. Put a photograph of a woman you love in the window and place a candle in front to illuminate her image. 

Don’t forget to take a photograph and share on social media with #IlluminateHerstory to join the movement nationwide. 

For further information, visit
To read more on festivals in Limerick, click here.

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.