St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2023 will take on the unifying and inspirational theme of ONE as we shine a light on all the goodness that surrounds us.
Ireland has a forgotten pantheon of mythical gods, whose stories were preserved for us by Irish Christian scribes and later weaved into tales with St Patrick. They were his friends! Yet today, Irish children know far more about Greek gods like Zeus – taught to them in school – and Norse gods like Loki – from Marvel movies – than they do of goddess Éire, our country’s fierce namesake. But we deserve to know the stories of Irish gods, preserved for us by our ancestors.
And these myths do more than just enrich our cultural identity. They celebrate the diversity of what it means to be Irish, because like St Patrick, many Irish gods didn’t start their lives in Ireland or have white skin and red hair. Our farming goddess, Tailtiu, came from Spain. Warrior goddess, Scáthach, came from Iran and taught Cú Chulainn to be a hero. Goddess of prophecies, Badb Catha, was teased for her dark skin. And Scothníam came here as a refugee
We Are One represents the theme of the 2023 Parade and Festival. Inspired by the ancient transcript the Leb or the Book of the Taking of Ireland, first published in the 11th century and by the recent publication Girls Who Slay Monsters by author Ellen Ryan, the story of this pageant is a response to today’s rhetoric of good v evil.
Our native myths can also offer us a greater respect for the environment. The River Boyne was one and the same with goddess Boann. Witch goddess Cailleach shaped and protected our mountains. And it’s said that when our ancestors stopped worshipping these goddesses, they returned into our hills and rivers to become one with the land.
It’s been a privilege for me to shine a light on how relevant our mythic goddesses still are, in my book, Girls Who Slay Monsters. And it’s a further honour to know that these retellings inspired this year’s opening pageant, WE ARE ONE.
-Ellen Ryan author of Girls Who Slay Monsters
Ellen Ryan is the debut author of Girls Who Slay Monsters, which offers unsung stories about ancient Irish goddesses, re-imagined for nine to twelve-year olds. From a gender-fluid spy who outwitted an army; and a giant who overcame the bullies that body-shamed her; to an Iranian Irish hero-trainer; and a shapeshifting eco-warrior, readers will meet diverse goddesses who have been forgotten for long enough.
Ellen Ryan is a journalist and contributor to the Irish Times and Irish Independent. She has a passion for Irish myth and loves to visit archaeological sites (though she always brings a raincoat). Along with her husband and daughter, Ellen is lucky to live by the sea in Ireland’s County Wicklow, where she can keep an eye out for sea gods.
It is not too late to save our land from the destruction caused by waste, over consumption and greed. We can fix it and recycle to create a new beautiful future. Here we see our Eco-Warrior Goddesses in the form of litter pickers as they clean the land and sea; the modern Goddesses of the Future are represented by the students and winning designs from Junk Kouture as they celebrate recycling, reusing and creation.
Junk Kouture is a creative programme for youth that promotes the importance of sustainability. Highlighting the fact that what we view as ‘junk’ can be recycled in useful and impactful ways, it challenges young people to create fashion out of materials that are normally thrown away.
The zero-cost programme runs in post-primary schools and is open to students aged 13-18. Junk Kouture was designed to create an inclusive community, educate people about the importance of protecting our planet and promote creativity. Junk Kouture is currently active in schools in Ireland, UK, France, Italy, USA and UAE, with national competitions feeding into a World Final – the most recent of which took place in Abu Dhabi in January 2023.
Founded in Donegal in 2010 by tech entrepreneur, and CEO of Junk Kouture, Troy Armour, the competition has recruited 100,000 participants to date, produced 15,000 distinctive designs, saved 40,000kg of waste from landfill and amazed packed crowds at 60 sold-out arena shows.
Keep up to speed with all things Junk Kouture across social media @junkkouture and online www.junkkouture.com
Design Name: Royal Goddess
Location: Ashbourne, Co. Meath
Our dress is called Royal Goddess. For our design, our inspiration is a peacock, and our message is all the waste that comes with shopping. The top part of our dress is a weaving technique with cut up receipts and spray-painted it blue, we cut spray-painted and made loops out of shopping bags for the skirt.
After we chose the inspiration of a peacock, we knew we wanted to make a train on the dress like a peacocks feathers so we cut painted and glued down around 350 strips on a piece of gold mesh that my granny was no longer using to make our train. For our head piece we chose to use can tabs to make our crown and we spray painted it gold and added feathers on top. For our shoes we used papier-mâché with left over receipts and made bows out of some of the gold mesh we had left. We are located in Ashbourne Co. Meath.
A Journey to the Past
Design Name: A Journey to the Past
Location: Southeast (Laois)
The dress is called a Journey to the Past, made mostly of maps of Ireland. This dress represents a celebration of the highways and byways of Ireland and the vast array of methods of public transport available to explore our beautiful country. Using public transport for traveling to work, campus or business-related travel has many benefits including reduced congestion, time efficiency, and cost savings. Created in a classic 1910s style this dress encourages the viewer to embrace public transport and work towards achieving Ireland's targeted 51% transport emissions reduction by 2030.
Beneath the Waves
Design Name: Beneath the Waves
Location: Gael Colaiste Cill Dara, Naas, Co. Kildare
Our design Beneath the Waves tells the story of a mermaid-like creature who has been corrupted by the plastic and oil pollution that plagues our oceans today. One half of the dress represents the clean, pristine natural beauty of the ocean. The other half tells a different story with plastic-like scales to represent that over 11 million metric tons of plastic and waste end up in the ocean each year and it is estimated that over 200 metric tons of plastic currently circulate our oceans. We used many ocean themes on our dress, for ex. fishnets for overfishing.
Post Pandemic Eabha (PPE)
Design Name: Post Pandemic Eabha (PPE)
Location: Coláiste Íosagain, Portarlington , Co. Laois
This design is made using surgical gloves, face masks and medical syringes.
Starting from Scratch
Design Name: Starting from Scratch
Location: Colaiste Iosagain Portarlington.
It is about teaching children at a young age about recycling and reusing.
Player Behind the Mask
Design Name: Player Behind the Mask
Location: St. Angela’s College, Cork.
Our dress is called Player Behind the Mask, and we are from St Angela’s college cork. ‘Player Behind the Mask’ represents the inner beauty & allure of female sports players juxtaposed with that of great power and immense talent. It has a voluminous skirt with ruffled texture & off shoulder type top. The team crests throughout depict the player's loyalty, dedication & team spirit. The boots are adorned with old batteries to represent the repeat intake into local clubs. The flowers & branches represent the growth & identity of the players. People are misled in thinking that kindness & strength cannot coexist, ‘Player Behind the Mask’ aims to shatter these misconceptions.
Design Name: Nature Within
Location: Boyle, Co. Roscommon
‘Nature Within’ symbolises a deeper relationship between us and the tranquillity of the world around us. Nature inspires creativity in today’s youth inspiring us to explore art. The intricate design employs the use of weaving, crochet and knitting. The use of these techniques symbolise the serenity associated with nature, as the crocheted string and panels resemble the twisting and entangling of vines, demonstrating how people can become one with the world surrounding us and take inspiration from nature around us to inspire creativity within us.
Design Name: Fallen Leaves
Location: Boyle, Co. Roscommon .
Our design is inspired mostly by nature and consists of a skirt created by varnishing autumn leaves and sewing them together, paper machéing an old second hand corset and designing it with willow sticks we spray painted gold and leaves we folded and tied into roses, a headpiece created from an old scrap of metal we decorated with golden tinfoil, more willow sticks and roses made out of leaves and a pair of old boots paper machéd with the heels made out of old palm leaves that were frilled and spray painted gold.
Design Name: Glamping
Location: Creagh College, Wexford
At the end of every summer Irish media is awash with images depicting the ugly aftermath of music festivals: acres of rubbish and bulldozers cleaning up thousands of abandoned tents. In 2019, 70% of tents brought to Electric Picnic were left behind as waste. The designer asked, “What if we transformed materials from discarded tents into fashion that could be worn by the performers the following year?” This project is the result of seeing value in tent materials, from the ground sheet to fastenings and everything in between… truly putting the ‘glam’ back into Glamping.
Over dress that was made of a ground sheet. Under dress was made up of the sleeping compartments of the tent along & the sheer window fabric & tags from the tent. Wig is made of a poncho & tent sewn to the waist of a pair of tights. Collar is made of baling twine and tent cord and painted tent fastenings. Shoes were bought second hand & has cord sewn to them. Bag was made from a coat and tent. The outfit is completely done by hand with no gluing involved.
Fast and Fabulous
Design Name: Fast and Fabulous
Location: Heywood Community School, Balinakill, Laois
It is made entirely out of car parts and car accessories.
Design Name: AutistiCAN
Location: Bailieborough Community School, County Cavan
Our dress was made of empty soft drink cans, showing a range of different colours. In today's society, we have a better knowledge of people with special needs and how we can accommodate them . The use of colour on our dress is to symbolise the colourful personality of autistic children.
Our headpiece is a rose which was chosen to symbolise our society blossoming and being more aware of what autism is. We chose to base this project on autism as a member of our team is autistic. I feel that over the last few weeks, I have become more familiar with this developmental disorder and learned how people with autism have broken free from being labelled. THAY CAN BE WHO THEY WANT TO BE!!!
Design Name: Koffee Kouture
Location: Castleknock, Dublin 15
Koffee Kouture is a design made from Old clothing, metal wire and, of course, lots of coffee pods.☕ Koffee Kouture inspires the use of bright colours through its design and is a commentary on the overconsumption of one-use coffee pods.
A Sailor’s Dream
Design Name: A Sailor’s Dream
Location: Colaiste Mhuire, Ballygar, Galway.
The form and structure of the costume represents a Mermaid. The designers were inspired by the character of the Merrow in Irish Mythology and Folklore. In this costume, the sailor’s dream has turned into a nightmare of ocean pollution and plastics. Made from a secondhand corset, broken and sanded down mirror pieces, orange briquette netting
Let them Eat Bread
Design Name: Let them Eat Bread
This piece is inspired by the ‘Neoclassical’ era of Marie Antoinette, her style and her famous quote “Let them eat cake”. Eve took a visit to an old flour mill, 'Shackleton Mill' on the River Liffey near her home. She took further inspiration from another French person, a world-famous designer Jean Paul Gaultier and his 'Pain Couture' exhibition 2004 for the Cartier Foundation. While Gaultier created his work literally 'out of bread', the materials used for the dress were drawn from the world of bread-making.
Design Name: Ex Static
My design is inspired by a tech-gothic style. The shiny plastics, black garbage bags and wires reminded me of old, broken or abandoned tech, so I decided for my headpiece to be an old tv. I added gothic style features for detailing and as I thought the black colour would suit the "trash" part of my outfit.
My design is made from plastic trash bags, grocery store fruit bags, old insulation foam cardboard, old tape and string. I used different crochet techniques for detail pieces, crocheting the gloves and corset accessories. I used the double crochet and slip stich techniques in my design.
I used the spare wires we had in school and wire scraps from my personal art projects to not be wasteful. I also decided to use household items to limit waste.
Ode to Joy
Design Name: Ode to Joy
Inspired by the European Green Deal, Ode to Joy symbolises the values and principles of the EU and its efforts in fighting climate change. The silhouette creates a powerful aesthetic. 27 cable ties frame the head piece, each representing a country in the EU. A Fanning pattern on the skirt, the detailed hand-crafted golden bodice and the blue flowers on the skirt ruffle and sleeves, all express the individualism of each country yet when brought together as one, the garment represents the unity and connection between each EU member states and their commitment to the environment.
Back to the Future
Design Name: Back to the Future
Our costume is a futuristic coat of armour. Our planet is on the brink. The risk is real. If we continue to consume and power our lives the way we do now then our forests, oceans and weather systems will collapse. We need to go back in time and live sustainably and reconnect with our planet in order to have a future. If not then it is survival of the fittest for the food we eat, the water we drink and the very air we breathe.
I’ll Say I do
Design name: I’ll Say I do
We dedicated this design to all the brides who weren’t able to walk down the aisle and say I do. It was made form hundreds of flowers made of paper coasters from @dromolandcastlehotel styrofoam and old curtains.We repurposed lace from a recycled wedding dress and used pearls to add detail.
St. Brigid Springs Into Step
Design name: St. Brigid Springs Into Step
Our design consists of a halter neck top, skirt, train, shoes and headpiece. For our design, we took inspiration from old Celtic Irish history. We choose earthy tones such as green and brown and added gold to incorporate Celtic designs. We wanted our design to look elegant and intricate. We were inspired by St Brigid and her symbolic crosses which represents peace, good will and protection. We view her as an empowering women in Irish history. Made from mostly rushes.
SPF Community Arts are commissioned annually by St. Patrick’s Festival, to engage with groups and communities, to promote integration, inclusion and celebrating diversity, to work together alongside artists, to create and stage a pageant for the Festival parade. Every year, the project begins anew with fresh themes and ambitious plans. Beginning in November, the project grows over the months as rehearsals, costume fitting and floats are made, eventually transferring to the streets of Dublin on March 17th.
Rachel Hopkins Creative Producer
Muirne Bloomer Artistic performance director and producer
Aoife Woodlock Music producer
Camila Medeiros Community Arts Coordinator
Justine Doswell Head of Costume, hair and make-up. (Original costume designs by Sabine Dargent)
Martin Cahill Head of Props.
Damien Bolger Head of Production.
Bui Bolg Float builders
Inspired by the book written by Ellen Ryan 'Girls Who Slay Monsters'
Participants: Dee Armstrong as Ériu, MACNAS, Discovery Gospel Choir, Junk Kouture
Community Groups: Lithuanian Association, Samba Dance Brazil, Venezuelan Roots, Moldovan Association, Sphere 17, Seda College, Confederation of Indian Community in Ireland (CICI), Syrians in Ireland, Polish Saturday School, Latvian Society in Ireland, Igbo Union Dublin, Peru Fusion, National Rhythm of Georgia.