Celebrating our Irish Language at stpatricksfestival.ie

The National St. Patrick’s Festival takes place 12-17 March 2021. Dúisigh Eire! Awaken Ireland! is the theme of this year’s festival, a clarion call to the Irish across the world to throw off the long, dark months and rise to embrace the brighter days ahead.

Dúisigh Eire! Awaken Ireland! promises to be a positive and uplifting celebration of our incredible people, our beautiful island, our community bonds, our young people, artists, creators and makers, and our diaspora across the world. This year, more than 100 events will be available to watch on St. Patrick’s Festival TV (SPF TV), an online TV channel which will broadcast globally from March 12 - 17 at stpatricksfestival.ie Most of the programmes will also be available in 1.1 million homes across Ireland on the Oireachtas TV channel, which can be found on all TV provider platforms.

St. Patrick’s Festival is commissioning and supporting a host of events celebrating and promoting our Irish language. Highlights from the programme include Seanfhocail, presented by Féile Pádraig in association with Hen’s Teeth creative studio and gallery, a specially commissioned series of six stunning prints using proverbs drawn from our rich Irish language such as ‘An donas amach is an sonas isteach’ and ‘Maireann croí éadrom a bhfad’. These pieces aim to present and promote the Irish language by using proverbs to look at our contemporary times, a reflection on the past year, a look to the future and to celebrate the resilience and community spirit of the Irish people at the time of our national holiday celebrations. Hen's Teeth are working with six designers - Jonny Costello (Adult Art Club), Keelin Coyle, Niall Sweeney, M&E Studio, One Strong Arm and Annie Moriarty - to create this stunning run of limited edition prints which will be available from hensteethstore.com.

Speaking about the festival’s programme of Irish language events, Minister of State for Sport and the Gaeltacht Jack Chambers said: “There is a really exciting programme of immersive events planned for the St Patrick’s Festival which will celebrate and embrace the Irish language. The festival offers a wonderful opportunity to reflect on our native language and the role it plays in our society, our culture and in our arts. I hope people of all ages and from all backgrounds will fully participate in the festival. While the pandemic has meant there are more online and virtual events for this year’s festivities, I am pleased this will allow so many Irish abroad and people all around the world to participate and celebrate the Irish language and Irish traditions this Patrick’s Festival.”

For those who want a hands on festival experience, discover your creative streak with two Ceardlanna Trádisiúnta le Cleas, Inis Oírr - Aran Knitting and Willow Weaving. The Aran Islands are steeped in Ireland's rich heritage and history. Learn how to create your first Aran stitches and maybe go on and knit your very own fisherman's sweater. Or master the skill of crafting items with sally rods in the traditional Inis Oírr manner to make a beautiful hanging basket. Don’t forget to check the event pages at stpatricksfestival.ie in advance to see what you’ll need for each workshop.

Elsewhere An Féileacán agus An Rí - A Reading will see author Máire Zepf read from her award-winning book The Butterfly and the King, a retelling of one of Ireland’s most ancient myths, for our younger gaeilgeoirí. The spellbinding tale of Mír and Éadaoin has been told in Ireland for over a thousand years, but in this contemporary retelling Éadaoin has been given the reins to her own story for the first time ever. Máire will also be giving young writers at home some story starter ideas to write their own stories inspired by the themes of the myth. Also join the book’s illustrator Shona Shirley Macdonald for An Féileacán agus An Rí - Illustration Workshop. Taking inspiration from mythological creatures and illuminated manuscripts, she’ll be showing you how to invent your own fantastical and imaginary animals, how to create your own ‘Bestiary’!

For those with an interest in language and the origins of words be sure to watch Sea Tamagotchi by Manchán Magan. In February 2020 Manchán set out along the coast roads of Mayo, Donegal and Galway seeking out sea words, maritime terms and coastal customs as part of Galway2020. Now for St. Patrick’s Day he has created 19 short films featuring the voices of the fishermen, intercut with film footage of the Irish coastline. Learn about where certain words come from and gain rich insights into coastal practices, navigation systems, seasonal calendars, psychological aspects of sea life, migratory routes and fishing techniques.

Seanfhocail, An Féileacán agus An Rí - A Reading, An Féileacán agus An Rí - Illustration Workshop, Cleas Aran Knitting Workshop and Cleas Willow Weaving Workshop are supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language and Sea Tamagotchi by Manchán Magan is supported by Foras na Gaeilge.

While St. Patrick’s Festival looks forward to a time when Ireland commences the journey towards reopening, and prepares to welcome the world to our beautiful, vibrant, island, this year we invite all our people to celebrate safely and responsibly from home, in support of the tireless work of our healthcare warriors and our frontline workers, who battle on every day to protect our people and lead us out of the pandemic.