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Herstory shines a light on student activism

In celebration of St. Brigid’s Day 2022, the feminist movement Herstory held its annual light show, illuminating many Irish landmarks.  

The annual Herstory light show took place last week to celebrate St Brigid’s Day. 

Several landmarks across Dublin and Kildare such as Trinity College, St. Brigid’s Cathedral and the GPO, were illuminated with images of female youth activists and Brigid’s Day iconography 

The lightshow began with a tribute to Aisling Murphy. Image: Jake Mc Laughlin

The light show was organised by the feminist movement Herstory, founded in 2016 by Melanie Lynch. 

Since 2018, Herstory has been organising the light show, aiming for a different theme each year. 

“We do the light show every year to bring the women from the darkness into the light”

-KATELYN HANNA, RESEARCHER AND PROJECT MANAGER AT HERSTORY

This year’s light show prominently featured images of student activists, created by artists at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) and Coláiste Dhúlaigh, a full gallery of the artwork featured can be found on Herstory’s website.

Holly Hughes, an illustration student at NCAD was one of the artists who had their work displayed at the light show.  

“It’s really amazing, as a student you don’t often get the opportunity to have your art project seen by so many people,” she said.  

Herstory also worked with the Irish Second-Level Students Union (ISSU) to produce this year’s light show. 

A projected image of Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai. Image: Jake Mc Laughlin

Katelyn Hanna, researcher and project manager at Herstory says a desire to tell the untold stories of women in Irish history was the main factor in Herstory’s founding. 

“She (Melaine Lynch) started because she has younger sisters in her life and around the table they could tell her what Kim Kardashian had for breakfast but didn’t know any women in Irish history, so that’s why she kind of started this up originally,” she said.  

Herstory’s work expands beyond the light show, working with schools and running workshops which involve teaching students about the heroines of the Northern Irish Peace Process and climate activism.  

“There’s a lot more people looking at women in Irish history and student activism and the climate crisis, I think people are listening to activists now,” said Hanna.  

“So, we like to kind of highlight and spotlight them and give them a platform, and work with the schools, try to get the word out amongst younger people,” she added.  

Further Herstory work involves research, reaching out to other activists, obtaining project funding and expanding Herstory’s school’s programme.  

“When people get involved in schools they go and tell their parents and it just really spreads a natural interest,” said Treacy O’Connor, board director of Herstory. 

“I think when it comes to charity work particularly at the moment mental health and homelessness is more of a priority,” she said.  

“Bringing the feminine energy and recognizing that if everyone was to embrace that nurturing, quality of compassion, and understanding then we wouldn’t have as much need for all these charities,” she added.

Smithfield square lit up with images of Irish goddesses. Image: Jake Mc Laughlin

The light show followed Herstory’s successful campaign to make Brigid’s Day a public holiday, the first public holiday to be named in honour of women.  

“I brought the idea to Melanie in 2019 because there was no representation of any female saint, even with Brigid being the matron saint of Ireland,” said O’Connor.

“It just felt really right to introduce a holiday that bridged winter and spring, because there’s no holiday between new year and Saint Patrick’s Day and apart from being the darkest time of the year people really need a bit of hope and Brigid brings that sense of hope and new beginnings,” she added.  

Herstory is currently planning future projects with the Heroines! movement, with one of the goals of the collaboration being to produce a global Herstory light show in 2025.  

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