Pictured L-R: Catherine Martin, Fiona Martin, Noelette Hanley, Sr Antoinette McGrath, Sr Kathleen Moore and Elleesa Rushby

Luton Irish Forum marked Lá Fhéile Bríde 2019 (St Brigid’s Day) by hosting its third annual Afternoon Tea event on 2nd February celebrating the achievements of women.

Nearly 90 guests enjoyed chatting with friends old and new at the beautiful Putteridge Bury House in Luton. The 2019 Afternoon Tea programme showcased the stories of two women from the local Irish community; Catherine Martin, Luton Irish Person of the Year 2018, and Sister Eileen O’Mahony, founder of NOAH Enterprise. The afternoon included presentations and traditional music played by talented local duo, Tea and Spuds.  There was also a display including a beautifully scribed story of St Brigid and a brightly decorated banner created specially for the occasion by the Luton Irish Forum Calligraphy Group.

In the lead up to St Brigid’s Day, Luton Irish Forum asked for nominations from the public to draw up a list of 50 significant Irish women in Ireland and the diaspora over the past 100 years. The ‘Top 20 Irish Women’ were voted for by Afternoon Tea attendees, at Luton Irish Forum Centre and via social media, and will be published in advance of Women’s Day on the 8th March 2019.

Already Luton Irish Forum has received extremely positive feedback. Elleesa Rushby, event volunteer said, ‘It was wonderful to see several generations of women, discussing well-known achievers and learning about new ones from the event brochure.’ Samantha Basquille said ‘It was really inspiring to hear about people from the local community who have contributed so much.’ Some guests see the Forum’s February afternoon tea event as an established part of the local Irish calendar – Nikki Bennett commented ‘I have attended all three yearly events. Always informative, providing loads of facts and history.’

Fiona Martin, Youth and Heritage Officer and event coordinator at Luton Irish Forum said, ‘We look forward to this becoming one of our popular annual events.’
To vote for one or more of the 50 nominated significant Irish women, please comment on our Facebook posts, contact Fiona on fiona@lutonirishforum.org or pop into the reception at the Luton Irish Forum, 102 Hitchin Road, Luton, LU2 0ES. The nominations list can be found online here.

The St Brigid’s booklet we created featuring the stores of two amazing local women Sister Eileen and Catherine Martin can be viewed here:

***Ends***

• St Brigid’s Feast Day on 1st February was originally a pagan festival called Imbolc, marking the beginning of spring. After a long dark winter, St Brigid’s Day celebrates the arrival of longer, warmer days and the early signs of spring. In the pagan tradition, this day also celebrates Brigid’s divine femininity.
• This is the first St Brigid’s Day celebration and follows two earlier successful women’s history projects – Mná na hÉireann (Women of Ireland) in 2017 and The Vote, last year, attended by Dr Helen Pankhurst, women’s rights activist and writer.
• Following the successful launch of the St Brigid’s Day celebration at the Irish Embassy in London last year, events are being held across the UK this year.
• Luton Irish Forum (LIF) is a registered charity and limited company formed in 1997, with 500 members and a fully accessible centre close to Luton Town Centre. Whilst originally set up to safeguard the needs of the Irish residents in Luton, LIF is now a truly representative community organisation serving Luton’s diverse vulnerable and socially excluded people. Our activities and events which promote health and wellbeing, improve quality of life and increase social inclusion are accessed 1,000s times annually.

LUTON IRISH FORUM NOMINATES SIGNIFICANT IRISH WOMEN FOR A TOP 20!