Nollaig na mBan: January 6th is day for the women of Ireland

The Epiphany to some, the twelfth day of Christmas to others, but going back generations, today marks Women’s Little Christmas, or Nollaig na mBan – a day when the women of the house, especially in West Cork, rested, visited friends, drank tea, ate currant cake, and even went to the pub.

We have Cork to thank for Nollaig na mBan, and Kerry, Dingle in particular, too. Women’s Little Christmas, on January 6, was celebrated mostly in the south west, with some parts of Ireland claiming to never have heard about the custom.

The actual custom was about letting women rest up on the twelfth day of Christmas, having served up a feast on December 25, men’s Christmas. If a man was to help out on Christmas Day he could face the wrath of being called an “auld woman”.

Women visited one another’s homes on January 6, having tea and sharing the last of the Christmas cake, others went to public houses, and assumed the social roles ordinarily played by men. [ . . . ]

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The Socialism of James Joyce

James Joyce

Today marks 80 years since James Joyce’s death. Joyce’s flirtation with organized socialist politics was brief, but he continued to find inspiration in socialist texts throughout his life.

By Donal Fallon | Jacobin

Ulysses is a book in which everything happens and nothing happens. The story of a day in the life of a city — the Hibernian metropolis, as James Joyce saw Dublin — is a journey in a rambling flow of consciousness, where the very serious political issues of the day (the book is set on June 16, 1904) wrestle for space with the mundanities and excitement of the lives of his characters. Speaking of his appreciation for the book, Jeremy Corbyn noted how “Joyce references and richly describes what’s happening in the street. So somebody is holding forth about a big political issue and then the refuse cart goes by.” Edna O’Brien, one of Joyce’s finest biographers, has rightly maintained that “no other writer so effulgently and so ravenously recreated a city.”

Joyce is now eighty years dead, and yet his reputation as a writer whose work is difficult, even daunting to approach, remains. Anthony Burgess would insist that “If ever there was a writer for the people, Joyce was that writer,” yet others saw only pretension and inaccessibility in Joyce’s work, not least Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. Continue reading

Lisa O’Neil at Dublin’s National Concert Hall

Serious joins with National Concert Hall, Dublin to present Lisa O’Neill – a songwriter like no other. Last year, she played for Serious in a sold out Union Chapel show, and was featured in our Imagining Ireland programme produced by Serious, National Concert Hall, Dublin, and Culture Ireland. Her Rough trade album, Heard A Long Gone Song, sees her remarkable voice breathing new life into traditional songs and has garnered huge acclaim both at home and abroad. Tackling songs passed through generations, some mixed with political messages giving a voice to a community, or dark tales of the past, Lisa performs all with ease.

‘Raw and unvarnished folk. Uncompromising, stunning, soul-shaking stuff’ (★★★★★ Guardian)