ÉIRÍ (standing for Évoking Ireland’s Resilient female Ícons) has been an international arts competition in parallel with a participatory research project aimed to re-ignite awareness of inspirational female figures from Irish mythology and folklore who have all too often been forgotten, suppressed, or overwritten in the mists of time. Members of the public have been invited to submit original art in any form, inspired by any female figure from Ireland’s mythology or folklore. The hope is that this project may lead to better representation of women in Ireland’s national iconography and identity documentation.Professor Ralph Kenna:; the inspiration behind and founder of the project
There were so many entries to chose from. All were thoughtful, imaginative and of a very high standard. It was not an easy task to choose winners.
The Judging Process
The enries were randomly allotted to a large panel of experts from a wide variety of differing disciplines. including, artists, teachers, scientists, folklore scpecialists and others. Each recorded their impressions in exactly the same format. The scores were then put through Ralph’s ‘Calibtate with Confidence’ algorithm.
The Adult Winners
The Schools’ Winners
Congratulations to all the schools who submitted entries. The variety of approaches and the quality of the work was very high. You can view a gallery of the winners here. The gallery page also includes links to documents describing the ideas behind the artwork.
And the Future for ÉIRÍ?
ÉIRÍ has been the second art competition initiated by Professor Ralph Kenna and Coventry University wth the L4 group. The first was ‘Arts for Sinann‘ in 2020 and 2021. Through this long and exciting process the original group, Ralph Kenna and , L4, Rathcroghan Visitor Centre, Story Archaeology and The Irish Post the group has grown, It now includes Celtic Eye and further people and groups are also coming on board. What we have in common is our love of mythology and the early Irish stories in particular. But there is more to it. We all feel that the stories are more than entertainment. They carry messages and information that is still relevent today.
Ralph’s mathematical work has demonstrated evidence that positive agency by women is more apparent in the early Irish stories than found in many other myth cycles. Deeper awareness and reseach into the early Irish stories, as curated in their earliest forms also demonstrates that they were intended to pass on important environmental messages as well. Both the Táin Bó Cúailnge and Cath Maige Tuired for a start include themes warning that if the srtuggle for personal power is placed higher than care for the environment and ‘natural law’ then the land will become a wasteland.
And this is just the beginning. ÉIRÍ, which in early Irish meant ‘rise up’ , or ‘get up’ , is going to do just that. From out of this event has come a growing group who all feel that early Irish stories still contain ideas that are worth working with. So it is about time that we ‘rise up’, and be counted.
Keep a look out for further ÉIRÍ,projects and campaigns.