Luton Irish Forum marked Lá Fhéile Bríde 2020 (St Brigid’s Day) by hosting its fourth annual Afternoon Tea event on St Brigid’s Day [1st February] celebrating the achievements of women in sport.

Some 75 guests enjoyed chatting with friends old and new at the beautiful Putteridge Bury House just outside Luton. The 2020 Afternoon Tea programme showcased the stories of two women from the local Irish community; Sandra Hayes and Ann “Tiger” Woods, and the Luton based Claddagh Gaels – the only Ladies Gaelic Football Club in Britain not affiliated to any men’s club. The event also featured stories of the Lutonian women who defied an FA ban in the 1930s and played illegal football matches at Luton Town Football Club. Guests were also treated to stories of legendry Irish sportswomen such as Maeve Kyle – Ireland’s first female Olympian and Katie Taylor – a two-weight world champion boxer who has been described as “pound for pound one of the best boxers in the world” by BoxRec, the sports official record keeper.

The afternoon included presentations and traditional music played by talented local duo, Sinead and Callum Turner. There was also a display of trophies and medals from the local sports women and the beautifully decorated banner created specially for the occasion by Luton Irish Forum’s Calligraphy Group.

Luton Irish Forum received extremely positive feedback from attendees immediately. Sharon Dodd said “I love it. It’s such an uplifting event! An annual event that I’ll always look forward to attending.” Elizabeth Lea commented “It was absolutely fabulous, I had a fantastic time and feel proud to have Irish ancestry,” whilst Elaine Lister said “Fantastic, engaging and educational event. It makes me feel part of my Luton community.”

Fiona Martin, Youth and Heritage Officer and event coordinator at Luton Irish Forum said, “It’s a privilege to capture and share the stories of women from our community. Too many women’s achievements and contributions go unrecognised – they should be celebrated and remembered.”

St Brigid’s 2020 souvenir e-Booklet can be viewed here:

Event images can be viewed here: https://awarchol.zenfolio.com/stbrigids-day2020la-fheile-bride-folder (password: stbrigid2020)

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• St Brigid is one of Ireland’s patron saints, along with Patrick and Columba. Born in Dundalk in 450 AD, she was the founder of the first monastery in County Kildare, Ireland. Her father was a pagan chieftain of Leinster and her mother was a Christian. St Patrick inspired her to deepen her father and spread the word of God.

• 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.

• Following the successful launch of the St Brigid’s Day celebration at the Irish Embassy in London in 2018, events are being held across the UK this year.

• Luton Irish Forum (LIF) is a registered charity and limited company formed in 1997, with some 400 members and a fully accessible centre close to Luton Town Centre. LIF supports local communities in Luton to reach their full potential by providing welfare advice, social, cultural and volunteering opportunities.

Luton St Brigid’s Day event recognises Women in Sport