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MIC FemFest 2024 to host 20 Events over 3 Days on the eve of International Women’s Day

FemFest committee group photo. Four women seated in front and seven women standing behind.

A biannual festival celebrating the contemporary and historical experiences and achievements of women will return to Mary Immaculate College (MIC) from 5-7 March with a vibrant programme of cultural events including literature, performance, visual art and more across both the MIC Limerick and Thurles campuses.

Offering topical discussions, talks, readings, exhibitions as well as live interviews, theatre and music, MIC FemFest 2024: Caithfear Éisteacht, is a collective effort by staff and students. All events are free and open to the public, and for the first time this year, the festival is being extended to MIC’s Thurles campus.

Justine McCarthy, columnist with The Irish Times, will open the festival at MIC Limerick on Tuesday 5 March with a talk entitled ‘A Lot Done, More To Do’ while in MIC Thurles, the festival will begin with Siobhán McQuillan speaking about the One Million Stars project, aimed at connecting communities in solidarity against all forms of domestic abuse. Other notable events include a celebration of the life and work of Sinéad O’Connor in reading and song; award-winning author, Sara Baume, in conversation with fellow author, Eimear Ryan.

Committee members Dr Fiona McDonagh, Jude McInerney, Dr Ailbhe Kenny

Dr Fiona McDonagh, Chair of MIC FemFest 2024 and MIC Drama & Theatre Studies lecturer, commented: “I’m delighted to see FemFest being extended to the Thurles Campus this year. This has enabled the forging of new relationships and fostered increased collaboration across both campuses. It also means that the reach of FemFest now extends beyond Limerick city and its environs into Tipperary.  Another first this year is the introduction of our FemFest Manifesto, which was collaboratively created by our MIC FemFest committee.”

“We have been able to programme some high-profile speakers and performers, thanks to a project award from the MIC Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Interculturalism Office. Indeed, all of our contributors have timely and important things to share about women’s contributions—past and present—to cultural life in Ireland and beyond. Undoubtedly too, they will provoke us to reflect on our own contributions, past, present and future. And, with such a varied and exciting programme, there is sure to be something for everyone.’’

College staff and students are playing a central role. Dr Gwen Moore explores music as a form of social protest in Feminist Song - Bread and Roses: A Socio-Musical Case Study of Feminist Resistance while MIC postgraduate students Jude McInerney and Michelle Ryan talk about the favourite feminist anthems of the MIC (and wider) community, and Dr Rebecca Purcell will discuss the notion of rest as a form of resistance to systems of social oppression. Wednesday’s events include student performances and songs and insights from Ukrainian women living in Ireland as part of the Song Seeking project. Professor Emerita (UL) Pat O’Connor will read from, and talk about, her recently published memoir on life as a female academic. Author and An Post Irish Book Awards Newcomer of the Year nominee, Molly Hennigan, will discuss memoir, madness and maternal lineage in an interview with Dr Deirdre Flynn, MIC. And, in Thurles, a panel of MIC Thurles academics will discuss their research on women’s contribution to Irish cultural life, past and present. Ruth Talbot, Librarian at MIC Thurles, will also lead a tour of the College which will focus on women’s contributions.

Committee members Dr Vicky Brady, Jude McInerney, Dr Lauren McNamara holding the FemFest Manifesto

Professor Emerita (UCD), Angela Bourke will open the final day of MIC FemFest 2024 with a talk on the practice of keening in rituals around death in Ireland. Vocal and visual artist, Ceara Conway will talk about and perform work informed by her time engaging with a group of women seeking asylum in Ireland. In the afternoon, the Irish Women’s Writing Network (1880-1920) will host Christabel Scaife (Commissioning Editor, Liverpool University Press) and Lucy Hogan (Royal Irish Academy and Publishing Ireland) and a panel of academics as they discuss women’s experiences in the publishing industry. And, in the final event of MIC FemFest 2024, award-winning author Sara Baume will discuss her work with author Eimear Ryan.

Other events include an exhibition of Mrs Alice Craven’s papers—which aims recognise long forgotten widows and recover their lost voices (curated by MIC’s Exhibition curated by Dr Paul O'Brien, Dr Helene Bradley Davies, Dr Ursula Callaghan and Killian Webster); star weaving workshops; a link-in with the First Wednesday Series at the White House Bar and a themed exhibition in the MIC Limerick Library.

The full line up to the festival can be found on: