The first event on the Irish literary calendar of 2024, Nollaig na mBan: Bodies of Work joyfully celebrated our incredible Irish women writers working in different literary forms and women writers who have created literary journals. In this blog, flick through a series of joyful moments from the night.

With award-winning poet Jessica Traynor as the MC, the audience enjoyed a stellar line-up of writers who read new pieces of work (some commissioned especially for the occasion). In keeping with the theme, each writer represented a different body of work, including the novel by Christine Dwyer Hickey, the short story by Jan Carson, poetry by Nessa O’Mahony and spoken word by Ola Majekodumni.

We also had a special section dedicated to Ireland’s thriving literary journal scene, by spotlighting literary journals created and curated by women writers. In this part of the night, we heard from Róisín Leggett Bohan (representing Howl New Writing), Cassia Gaden Gilmartin (representing Channel), Susan Tomaselli (representing gorse) and Sinéad Creedon (representing Sonder Magazine). These women, whose literary journals give voice to new and established writers, gave insights into the raison d’être for their creations and also read from their own work.

The night also featured the incredible poet, playwright and screenwriter Celia de Fréine representing Irish PEN/PEN na hÉireann who told us of her organisation’s mission and described the events which they organised for the benefit of all writers, especially those who suffer intellectual or physical imprisonment, during 2023. She also read from her poetry collection Fiacha Fola and in keeping with our theme of Bodies of Work, reminded us of the physical body too and what medical negligence can do to a woman’s body.

Musical entertainment was provided by the wonderful musician Ellie O’Neill. Ellie’s songwriting explores intimacy, love, loss, and queerness.

IWC Programming Officer, Betty Stenson, had this to say about this year’s Nollaign na mBan:

“For two and a half hours on a freezing January evening the Irish Writers Centre was a warm beacon of literary talent, friendship, music, hope for 2024 and much laughter. As Jan Carson tweeted – Nollaig na mBan at the Irish Writers Centre ‘…was a perfect way to kick off the writing year.’”

Thank you to everyone who attended Nollaig na mBan 2024 – you were a fabulous audience! Thanks also to all those who performed, and a special shout out to Jessica Traynor for being such a wonderful host. Finally, thank you to the Arts Council for supporting us.


Jessica Traynor, the evening’s MC, Nollaig na mBan 2024


Celia de Fréine reads from her poetry collection Fiacha Fola, Nollaig na mBan 2024


Ola Majekodumni, Nessa O’Mahony, Jan Carson and Christine Dwyer Hickey, Nollaig na mBan 2024


Ola Majekodunmi reads a poignant and powerful bilingual piece about Dublin, Nollaig na mBan 2024


Book swap participants unwrap their new books, Nollaig na mBan 2024


Ellie O’Neill performs in front of a captivated audience, Nollaig na mBan 2024


Ellie O’Neill, Nollaig na mBan 2024


Writer, IWC facilitator and panel member, Fiona O’Rourke, wears a Maeve Brennan t-shirt (in honour of Brennan’s birthday and the unveilling of her commemorative plague), Nollaig na mBan 2024


Sinéad Creedon, Susan Tomaselli, Cassia Gaden Gilmartin and Róisín Leggett Bohan, Nollaig na mBan 2024


Audience watch performance at Nollaig na mBan 2024


Irish Writers Centre Programming Officer, Betty Stenson, and writer, Jan Carson. Nollaig na mBan 2024


Irish Writers Centre Director, Valerie Bistany, gives a final farewell message, Nollaig na mBan 2024