Nollaig na mBan

Today, Nollaig na mBan (Women’s Christmas) is celebrated in Ireland to mark the end of the 12 Days of Christmas.  It’s a day when the women of Ireland supposedly take a much-needed rest after cooking, cleaning and entertaining over the holidays.

Mostly celebrated in the West of Ireland, women gather in each other’s homes and local pubs, singing and dancing and storytelling (and some drinking too!) to celebrate this special day.

I’m also told by my sister Maeve that Nollaig na mBan is hugely celebrated in Cork City with a multitude of women-only events planned … the only man allowed in is the Bishop, to bless the women of Cork!  Tickets sell out well in advance.

I spotted this photo in social media this morning, inviting the women of Inis Oirr, Aran Island to “Tae Trathnona in aice an tine mona”, at 2pm today.   That would mean having ‘Afternoon Tea next to the turf fire” in case your Gaeilge is not up to speed.

Nollaig na mBan (Women's Christmas) Failte Isteac (Welcome inside)

Nollaig na mBan (Women’s Christmas)
Failte Isteac (Welcome inside)

If you are in the vicinity, you know where the craic is at.  And by ‘craic’ I mean fun and hilarity, not crack of the powdery kind.

Nollaig na mBan happens to be the day all the Christmas decorations come down and get put away for the following year.  And it’s usually done by the women of the house.  I don’t know about you but personally, I wouldn’t call that taking a rest, would you??

Given we are living in a global world, let’s take the spirit of Nollaig na mBan a step further and not limit this special day to the women of Ireland.

I ask you at some stage today, take the time to appreciate all the heart-beautiful women you are lucky enough to have in your lives.

Shona Nollaig na mBan Daoibhse go Leir

Happy Women’s Christmas to you all

And by the way, January 6th is also known as the Feast of Epiphany.  It is said to be the day the Three Wise Men arrived in Bethlehem at the stable of Jesus to offer him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

I know January 6th is the date of their arrival only because it was a tradition in our family to start the Three Wise Men’s long journey in our drawing room well before Christmas.  Every day, my youngest sister Sinead, would inch them along towards the hall where the crib (handmade by my grandfather) was set up for Christmas.

The Three Wise Men finally arrived on January 6th to very little pomp and ceremony in our house.  Us kids had already left Christmas behind by then and had moved on to the next big thing, the reprieve before having to give up chocolate & crisps for Lent!

About Kate Coffey

After 30 or so years in the investment management industry, 2013 saw me turn my life up-side-down, making my way first to Nepal, then Bangladesh during that first ‘year away’. The year took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and its people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located in Bhainsepati - 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Saanga foothills. Since 2014, I have returned to SIRC numerous times, working closely with the folks there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. In Bangladesh I marvelled at the strength and resilience of marginalized women who have the courage and audacity to break the rules and make a better life for themselves and their children through microfinance programs with BRAC. 2016-2017 saw me embark on a totally new experience in Sri Lanka, a place I never would have chosen to end up in. It’s the 40C+ heat, big humidity and tropical snakes & animals that scared me! But I ended up love love loving! my time there, working with predominantly Tamil small business owners in remote villages in north and east of the country, trying their best to recover their businesses and the lives of their employees, after decades of a civil war. My time in Sri Lanka made me realize my hard-earned business skills and experience can really be put to good use! The work the BIZ+ team and I did there ended up earning me International Volunteer of the Year Award in December 2017, presented on Capitol Hill, Washington DC no less. I am currently home on Bowen Island, in the west coast of Canada, shoring up my finances before I head off to who knows where, for my next expert volunteer assignment. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2013-2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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4 Responses to Nollaig na mBan

  1. Anne Marie says:


    I waited until today to take down the decorations despite the fact that every Kiwi who came to the house for the last couple of days commented on them still being up !!! I am off out now to see La La Land with my Irish friend Fiona and no doubt a 🍷 Or 🍷 🍷 to celebrate the day ! Anne Marie

  2. Pingback: What a girl can and can’t do | Bowen to Bangladesh

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