From remembering Aisling Murphy to acknowledging family role models, these Irish women, many of whom are trailblazers in their own fields, recount how they will spend the day …
Main featured image: The Carlucci Sisters Luncheon by Mary Ronayne.
Anne Maher, director of Ballet Ireland
As a dancer who has trained and performed nationally and internationally with predominantly female teachers, this day is one to celebrate. Dance, and in particular ballet, is an art form that is led and championed by women. I’m thrilled to celebrate the day in studio with our phenomenal dancers and acknowledge all of the significant achievements and contributions women have made to the development of ballet.
Of course, men have played leading roles in this area but it is the female voice and guidance that has had the greatest impact on me. Women understand how other women move, the body mechanics and the challenges we are faced with. Having been a director of Ballet Ireland for over 20 years, I’m in a very fortunate position to bring together female dancers and choreographers to work and create. We see this in the latest work Ballet Ireland is working on with internationally acclaimed Irish choreographer Marguerite Donlon, “Strokes Through the Tail” which can be seen live as part of our triple bill, “Bold Moves” in the O’Reilly Theatre from April 16-23; www.balletireland.ie.
Mary Roynane, artist
I don’t want to have an International Women’s Day. I would prefer to live in a world where we didn’t need to accord time to celebrate the achievements women have made in society. I welcome a gender equal world beyond bias and discrimination, an inclusive world where difference is valued and celebrated. But until we reach this time, International Woman’s Day is essential. This month I am exhibiting in “The Divine” exhibition, opening on March 8 at HOFA Gallery, London, which aims to highlight and address the lack of female artist representation both historically and contemporarily; www.thehouseoffineart.com.
Natalya Coyle, Olympian athlete and multiple world medallist
International Women’s Day encompasses many things for me. A day to appreciate all women no matter their religion, race, ability, impairment or size. We are woman. It’s a day to celebrate and to learn what incredible achievements, innovations, creativity, perseverance, bravery, and determination surround us, all by women. It’s a day to instil in younger and older women of Ireland that they are enough. In a world with filters, self-designed milestones, and pressure: Remember, you are enough. However, it is also a day to remind ourselves of the inequality suffered by women around the world. It is this inequality that shows us how far we have come and how much further we must go. If we can’t feel safe going for a run we must keep shouting. There is no point holding the candle for another woman unless you’re going to help her light it. Coyle is currently brand ambassador for O’Brien’s cafes; www.obriens.ie.
Adriana Taheny, founder of Zzzana
Growing up with three sisters and having a strong female role model in my mother, International Women’s Day was always marked in our house. My poor Dad was definitely outnumbered! I think it has become more widely celebrated over the last few years, especially across social media, which is a positive thing. Originally, I felt it was a day where negatives were highlighted such as gender pay gaps, and lack of equality in terms of work opportunities and in education. Now it has developed into a celebration of women and all they have achieved.
That said, this year I can’t help but think of the events over the past year and the desperate situation and plight we face when it comes to basic safety for women in Ireland as the tragic loss of Aisling Murphy highlighted. I think it would be wrong for us not to think of her on this day along with all the other women who have lost their lives at the hands of violence. What this day means to me is something more than celebrating achievements. It’s a day for us as women to show solidarity to each other, a day of sisterhood to remind ourselves we are here for each other; www.zzzana.com.
Una Tynan and Pippa O’Connor Ormond, founders of UP Cosmetics
Una Tynan: I see the day as a positive celebration. However, it can sometimes be tainted with frustration when inequalities are highlighted. For example, the gender pay gap that still exists throughout most industries, as well as the enhanced pressure women feel when also managing a household.
I have four sisters so we will all be partaking in celebrations! I think on this day it’s uplifting to see other women supporting and showing admiration for each other. Society has a terrible way of pitching women against each other, especially those in business, so this day is almost like a nod of solidarity. I also think it’s important to remember how here in Ireland we are so fortunate with how far we have come – other women do not have the same freedoms. I like to use the day to be positive and grateful for all that I have.
Pippa O’Connor: For me, IWD is a positive occasion to highlight all the amazing things we have achieved as women, however, sometimes it feels as if we are conditioned to play these down. We all know that changes didn’t happen overnight and there is still more work to be done. I think marking this day is a positive reminder of how far we have come. Being a mother is an amazing gift and I cherish every moment but I am also aware that I am incredibly fortunate to be able to work and have a successful career alongside motherhood. Women definitely need to be supported more when striking this balance. As a mother of three boys, I am definitely outnumbered at home but I will use this day to celebrate with them. Brian, my husband, is my biggest supporter and I would definitely say our household is equal in terms of “managing” and I think it is great for my boys to see this too; www.upcosmetics.com.
Margaret Urbanowicz, founder of Somas Studio
International Women’s Day is such a fantastic opportunity to celebrate all the female relationships in our lives. At work, I’m surrounded by brilliant, empowered women who are all such a huge inspiration. I’m also a “gal’s gal” and could not imagine my life without my friends. They are truly my rocks and I know I can always count on them. I appreciate how these friendships have blossomed over the years and also acknowledge my friends’ successes. This International Women’s Day I want to take my friends out for a well overdue cocktail date and catch up on all the missed moments over the past two years; www.somastudio.com.
Frances Fogarty, founder of Lilymais
International Women’s Day is always a reflective day for me – reflecting on just how far we have come in Ireland in terms of accepting that women have so much to offer especially their contribution to business in general. In 1995, when I was appointed General Manager of a Tipperary hotel, it was the fact that I was female rather than just 26 years of age that surprised most people! Now it would be my age rather than my gender that would raise eyebrows. We still have a long, long way to go here in Ireland in championing women, but I firmly believe we are getting there.
However, reflecting on my own positive experiences here at home soon fades to sadness when I compare my situation with those compatriots overseas. Being involved in fashion, I spend my days behind a sewing machine doing my bit for sustainability by turning old cotton towels into swim robes – something I absolutely love doing. I think of the tens of thousands of women doing a similar job to me in countries where poverty prevails and where women suffer inexplicable inequality. My fear is that the “global equality agenda” gets pushed down the list of priorities by other world events, be they pandemics, global warming or military invasions. The equality I enjoy here in Ireland will never be experienced by these women. So, a happy day – but tinged with sadness; www.lilymais.com.
Maeve O’Malley, founder of Meltdown and Winedown
International Women’s Day to me is a day to reflect on the support I’ve received from women in my life and also celebrate their achievements and my own. I have an amazing second cousin Maura Kate O’Malley, who I always thought of as a grand-aunt; she is now in her mid-80s and as strong as ever. She has always had so much time to listen to me and hear about my aspirations. When I ran The Tiny Teapot in Cleggan she helped me in so many ways, she even gifted me a car! Her house was like a second home and she made me believe I could do whatever I wanted to do. I also loved hearing all the amazing stories about her life – immigrating to the US from rural Ireland as a nurse in her 30s. She lived fearlessly, worked hard and created an amazing life for herself and her family. This International Women’s Day I am hosting a late lunch in Winedown for women who own businesses in the food industry, a mix of cafe and restaurant owners, food producers and women in the food-tech space; www.meltdown.ie.
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