The 12th Day of Christmas–Nollaig na mBan

The Lovely Scene Upstairs in Smock Alley

Well, Christmas is officially over for another year. Our tree is down, I clipped up the Christmas cards into next year’s Christmas tags, and found one little handful of pecans that missed the cookies.

The 6th of January is celebrated throughout Latin America, Spain and Portugal as the big Christmas celebration. The Epiphany. The Three Kings have arrived at the Christ Child’s stable and all is right with the world.

In Ireland, it’s Nollaig na mBam, or Women’s Little Christmas. Traditionally it was a day when women, who would have worked double time over Christmas and New Years to ensure their (generally) large families had food, gifts and fun, got a full day off. Men were expected to do the housework and look after the kids so the women could head down to the pub for some proper girl time.

I’ve lived in Ireland for six years and have never heard the expression before. Nollaig na mBan is more traditionally celebrated in the West and South-West of the country and often in Irish speaking communities. However, after the huge success of the Waking The Feminists movement here in Ireland, this year seemed ripe to re-imagine the day as a celebration for, by and about the talents of women. It seems right to re-claim a day that was begun long before any feminist movement hit these shores.

Back then, and last night at Smock Alley Theatre, women gathered with cakes, treats, stories to tell, songs to sing and good cheer all around. The Dublin event, You’re Only mBan, was a night of stand-up comedy, live music, story-telling and singing. It was a celebration of the huge talent in our community and a coming together to close out the Christmas celebrations.

Men were involved and represented as well. Of course! That’s what feminism is: equality for all sexes.

My podcast, Trivial Cahoots was there to record it all and collect some funny stories from the audience members not performing. Click on the link to hear the event in total and for some extra fun and chats.

It’s always wonderful to see old traditions re-purposed for a new time. And 2016 is going to be a pretty wild and wonderful time for the women of Ireland.

The 12th Day of Christmas–Nollaig na mBan



I realize that coupled with my last post I am getting off the “theme” of this blog a bit. Like my post before the 22 May Marriage Referendum, I want to use this platform to support a movement happening right now. #WakingTheFeminists has exploded onto social media and into newspapers around the world. As a female actor living in Ireland, it clearly affects me and those close to me.

When people in the States ask me why I moved to Dublin, one of the many reasons I list is that “I can work at what I love. I can do what I want.” Dublin is a much easier place to be an independent theatre maker and actor than New York or London. Sure, it’s a smaller pond, but this pond is very supportive and full of incredibly talented fish.

When I want to do something, be it audition for a role in a play or TV show, or even do my own one-woman show, I know that I can call or email someone who will respond to me. I can get seen for auditions. I know that with a little time and elbow grease I can make my own show happen. Once I make it happen I know that “people who matter” (ie casting directors, directors, producers) will come and see it if I invite them. It’s a small town. I know people. I know people who know people. Those people–all of them!–want me to succeed.

Yet I often have to make my own work, or think about new projects that I want to grease with both my elbows because often there just aren’t roles for me. There isn’t enough work for female actors in Dublin. But why aren’t female playwrights and directors getting more work?

Dublin is not alone in this. But Dublin is FULL of talented women actors, directors, artistic directors, casting directors, producers, playwrights and designers. There has been a massive outcry about the lack of representation for all of this female talent, specifically at The Abbey Theatre.

I am going to the Abbey on Thursday the 12th to lend my support to this movement and listen to all the points of view as to how we can move forward. “We” being women AND men of all artistic bents who are ready to focus on gender equality in the workplace.

I’m excited to be living in Dublin during a time of great cultural shift. Yes, of course “it’s about time!” but now is now and I’m grateful I can be a part of it.

Follow #wakingthefeminists and for all the information about the forum tomorrow and the plan for the future.