January 6th, also known as ‘Little Christmas’, ‘The Epiphany’ and Twelfth Night, often tends to be one of the busiest days in the calendar at this time of year. The writer James Joyce immortalised many of the Irish traditions associated with the end of the Christmas festivities in his short story The Dead, in which the characters gather for a sumptuous meal around a beautifully decorated table featuring a fat brown goose, a great ham and a round of spiced beef.
The date is also known as Nollaig na mBan, and was traditionally seen as an opportunity for women of Irish households to take a break and catch up with friends for some rest and relaxation following all their hard work throughout the yuletide season. Ireland being Ireland, they were of course also then expected to take down the Christmas decorations and clean the house afterwards.
The past few years have seen a revival of the best aspects of the tradition, with the day increasingly marked with small parties and literary and cultural gatherings celebrating women. While the annual Nollaig na mBan celebration hosted by Sinead Gleeson at the Irish Writer’s Centre is already sold out, there are plenty of other literary and social events happening throughout the city, with one venue even making a whole weekend of it.
In the main, it’s a day to kick back, enjoy and celebrate the women in your life, so from DIY events to women-fronted music, check out our pick of some of the events happening in the city to mark the day this year.
Do it Yourself – Takeout and Craic With Your Women Friends
Traditionally the day was something of an organic occasion, and in time-honoured fashion many women will be putting together their own DIY event for the day that’s in it. Whether the preference is for takeout and gin with your gal pals, lunch, afternoon tea, spa treatments, or dinner in a fancy restaurant, there are plenty of ways to enjoy some fun while admiring the last of the twinkling lights of the festive season. If you fancy a quick jaunt down the road, Knightsbrook Hotel in Trim has a very special overnight stay on offer featuring a prosecco and canapé reception, three course gala dinner and live music from Laura Colgan.
The Backroom of The Circular hosts a modern twist on an old tradition with a jam-packed night’s entertainment for Nollaig na mBan this Friday. Featuring talks, films, comedy and music from a stellar line up of talented women, there’ll also be a raffle and spot prizes on the night in aid of Daisy House Association a voluntary organisation based in Dublin 8 which works on supporting women out of homelessness.
Programmed and hosted by Jenny Keogh, the variety event features an all female lineup with contributors from the areas of history, comedy, the arts, fashion, sport, film and more. The night also includes a program of three short films by female Irish directors, as well as contributions from local historian Cathy Scuffil, Business to Arts CEO Louise O’Reilly, Slow Luxury Sustainable Fashion Designer Sharon Sweeney and laughs from Silvercrest Goats Improv Comedy Group.
Female entertainers will also be performing in The Other Hand and the main bar free of charge on the night. A complimentary Guinness is available for all women attending on a first come first served basis, while Coke Lane Pizza will be dishing up a special corned beef pizza on the night. While the event is female-led, the organisers tell us that men are also welcome to attend.
8pm – 11pm, Friday Jan 6th 2023. Tickets are limited and available via Eventbrite.
The Workman’s Club becomes the Workmná’s Club for three days this weekend as they celebrate ‘Women’s Christmas’ with three days of woman-fronted music, in aid of Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.
The lineup includes stalwarts such as Niamh Regan, Jackie Beverly, Katie Phelan, Reevah, Lauren Ann, Of all living things, Saoirse Moncrieff, Jena Keating, Lōwli, Nocturnal Animals and many more.
January 6th-8th. Tickets on sale now, with a ‘donation’ ticket for those who would like to get involved even if they can’t make it in person.
Seamus Heaney Listen Now Again – A Talk to Mark Nollaig na mBan by Kathryn McCance
This Friday sees a special Nollaig na mBan event led by Kathryn McCance of the National Library of Ireland as part of the exhibition, Seamus Heaney: Listen Now Again. The afternoon event will feature poems honouring the formative female figures in the poet’s life, from warm poems for his mother to verses for his beloved wife Marie. The simplicity of these evocative lines conjuring up memories of his mother is one many will be familiar with;
“When all the others were away at Mass / I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.”
1pm, Friday Jan 6th. Booking: email@example.com
In an event that forms part of the First Fortnight calendar, Erica Cody, host of RTÉ’s ‘The Main Stage’ headlines an evening of performance and hope, celebrating the progress made in tackling the stigma associated with mental health. The evening celebrates all those who have struggled and found support for their mental health, alongside those who work to support and empower others.
7.30pm Fri Jan 6th, The Main Space, Smock Alley. Tickets €18/€20
Words: Martina Murray