‘Blazing a Trail: Lives and Legacies of Irish Diaspora Women’ is a new exhibition running at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum from 12-25 November. It celebrates the lives and legacies of 21 pioneering Irish diaspora women of the 19th and 20th centuries who blazed a trail in a wide range of fields. The exhibition is a collaboration between EPIC, Herstory and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The exhibition marks the centenary of partial women’s suffrage, the right of Irish and British women to vote in elections. Individual Irish women across the globe struggled for their own professional recognition, and for justice and equality for others.
Dr Angela Byrne, DFAT Historian-in-Residence at EPIC and curator of ‘Blazing a Trail’, says: “This is the first time there has been an exhibition celebrating what Irish diaspora women have accomplished. I’m delighted to be bringing these stories to an audience both in Ireland and to the global Irish community. There’s a wider rediscovery and awareness of Irish women’s histories taking place right now which is very encouraging to see.”
Some of the Irish women featured in ‘Blazing a Trail’ include designer and architect Eileen Gray; computer programming pioneer Kay McNulty; poet, mystic and trade unionist Eva Gore-Booth; tennis champion Mabel Cahill; medical missionary Sr Dr Maura Lynch; and ‘most dangerous woman in America’ Mother Jones. As part of the exhibition, Hungarian artist Szabolcs Kariko has created original portraits of several of the women.
Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development Ciarán Cannon, says: “The Blazing a Trail exhibition is a timely celebration of the achievements of Irish women in the fields of arts, sciences, sport and humanitarian work worldwide. The twenty one women featured in the exhibition led extraordinary lives, yet they are only a small sample of the many outstanding Irish women who made significant contributions both at home and abroad. This exhibition is a fantastic way of honouring and celebrating those women.”
Emigration offered many women access to education, careers and other opportunities that may not have been available in Ireland. These women made their mark across the globe, innovating in every field and paving the way for others to follow, navigating a male-dominated society on their own terms.
Melanie Lynch, founder of Herstory, says: “Herstory is thrilled to collaborate with EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the first women’s exhibition for the Irish Embassy network. After three years running Herstory, I have to confess that I had heard of only eight women featured in this exhibition. From our research, we know that the amnesia of women’s stories is not just an Irish problem – this is a global phenomenon. The Blazing a Trail exhibition is only the beginning. Every January, the Herstory Light Festival presents a wonderful opportunity to share new women’s stories.”
‘Blazing a Trail’ is free and open to the public at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum in The CHQ Building, Dublin from 12–25 November 2018 from 9.30am-6.30pm. The exhibition will then travel to Irish embassies around the world over the coming years. On November 24th and 25th, there will be a Story Collecting Weekend at EPIC to gather new and previously unheard stories of women migrants.