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On the 20th November, the eve of the centenary when Irish women were first given the right to run for parliament, we launched ‘Blazing a Trail: Lives and Legacies of Irish Diaspora Women’, the first exhibition celebrating Irish diaspora women & the first women's exhibition to run in the Irish Embassy network. It celebrates the lives and legacies of 21 pioneering Irish diaspora women of the 19th and 20th centuries who blazed a trail in a wide range of fields. The exhibition is a collaboration between EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, Herstory and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“History needs Herstory. It is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do.”
— Tánaiste Simon Coveney's 2019 speech to the United Nations

The exhibition marks the centenary of partial women’s suffrage, the right of Irish and British women to vote in elections. Individual Irishwomen across the globe struggled for their own professional recognition, and for justice and equality for others.

Some of the Irish women featured in ‘Blazing a Trail’ include designer and architect Eileen Gray; computer programming pioneer Kay McNulty; poet, mystic and trade unionist Eva Gore-Booth; tennis champion Mabel Cahill; medical missionary Sr Dr Maura Lynch; and ‘most dangerous woman in America’ Mother Jones. As part of the exhibition, Hungarian artist Szabolcs Kariko has created original portraits of several of the women:

Watch the ‘Blazing a Trail’ video, featuring Tara Flynn, Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, Dr Ciara Kelly and Dr Niamh Shaw picking their most influential figures from the exhibition:

Emigration offered many women access to education, careers and other opportunities that may not have been available in Ireland. These women made their mark across the globe, innovating in every field and paving the way for others to follow, navigating a male-dominated society on their own terms.

On St. Brigid’s Day 2019, ‘Blazing a Trail’ was hosted by the United Nations HQ in New York and the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. The exhibition is currently touring in Irish embassies around the world.

‘Blazing a Trail’ will return to EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum for the Herstory 20/20 Project in Winter 2019.

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