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A Milestone

The Cork Women’s Weekend is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary this May Bank Holiday weekend, and it’s going to be fabulous! Founder of the Cork LGBT Archive, Orla Egan, and members of the Cork Women’s Weekend Committee, fill us in on what to expect. Images courtesy of Cork LGBT Archive.

Feature Celebration - Cork - Anniversary

Beginning as the Cork Women’s Fun Weekend, the celebration was a weekend organised by women in the lesbian community in Cork for the lesbian community in Ireland. It was planned as a fun, social event to counteract the very serious, heavy duty, feminist political organising and campaigning that was being undertaken at the time by these women.

The first Cork Women’s Fun Weekend was held on the weekend of April 13-15, 1984, and was organised by the women in The Women’s Place - operating at the time out of the Quay Co-Op in Cork city centre. An article on the tenth Fun Weekend in the March 1994 edition of Munster GCN described it as “the time for fun, friends, and fancy to come together”.

A report on the tenth Weekend discussed its early beginnings: “That was an era of serious politics. Questions about contraception, abortion, divorce, and the most elementary rights for lesbians and gays were the focus of virtually every meeting then. The Fun Weekend aimed to provide a space to recognise and celebrate the identity, culture, and community that women were creating. A measure of its success has been the emergence of similar events in other places.”

Commenting on the beginnings, Helen Slattery says, “There was a lot of heavy-duty political women’s conferences and discussions going on, and as an antidote we decided to have a weekend of just fun.”

Joan McCarthy was also involved in organising the first event. She recalls that “The Women's Fun Weekend - emphasis on the ‘fun’- was started as an antidote to the earnestness of our feminist political campaigning work. We organised the first Women's Fun Weekend in the middle of a severe economic recession, and just a year after the defeat of the Anti-Amendment Campaign and the insertion of the 1983 amendment to the constitution. We wanted to focus on activities that celebrated women and were about music, joy, sport and craic. For example, we invented a pub quiz that focussed on women's achievements in literature, film and sport etc. as opposed to the usual pub quizzes at the time that hardly referred to women at all.”

The weekend aims to create a safe space for women from the LGBTQ+ community to come together, create, support, socialise, network,and have fun, as well as much more. It is an integral part of the LBTQ+ calendar and is highly anticipated each year by its many loyal attendees who hail from Ireland, the UK and further afield.

These women come together to forge new friendships, create new alliances, foster new support networks and have great fun while doing so. Events throughout the weekend vary between workshops, live music, sport, a community barbecue, a drag king competition, a table quiz and more. The weekend is entirely volunteer-run and organised, not for profit, and free to attend (except for the main event on the Saturday night).

The collective power and energy of women has always been a force to be reckoned with, and that is no different now as remarkable, strong, resilient, powerful, capable, kind, smart women prepare to travel to Cork on May 3 to join the celebrations for the milestone anniversary.

The entire weekend is made possible by the huge efforts of the organising committee – currently made up of three volunteers: Sandra Carroll, Andrea Coleman, and Sinéad Huggins-Young.

They shared, “The weekend is very important to us as a committee, and we only want to do things in the best interest of the weekend and its attendees. We feel privileged as volunteers to temporarily hold the torch for the institution that is the Cork Women's Weekend, and we hope to see it evolve and flourish for another 40 years and beyond.”

Sandra Carroll explained, “Being one of 12 siblings, large scale family events are par for the course – there’s always something going on!

“I work as a butcher in my day job, and outside of work I'm kept busy with extracurricular community activities. I volunteer with LINC, and I'm also the Chairperson of the board of LINC, and I take great pride in both.

“I joined the CWW committee in 2017 and it's been a wonderful journey so far - seeing the fabulous turn out each year, watching new friendships being forged and old ones being cemented, and experiencing the collective energy of amazing, strong, smart, talented women. It's a fantastic feeling to be part of facilitating all of that!

“We're very proud to be marking 40 years of this amazing weekend this May, and we hope as many people as possible can join us at one point or another over the weekend to celebrate this milestone."

Andrea Coleman added, “I’m a mom of two with a background in the medical device industry. While my previous career had a different focus, I have always been drawn to the power of music and the importance of giving back.

“I have been volunteering with Cork Women’s Weekend since 2018. Combining my love for DJing with my desire to make a difference, I've had the privilege of playing music for our attendees and bringing together some amazing entertainment. One of the most rewarding aspects of volunteering is the opportunity to meet women from all walks of life, meeting friends old and new, and facilitating a full weekend of great events for them.

“As we celebrate our 40th anniversary, I'm reminded of the incredible impact the founders of the Cork Women’s Weekend have had on our community, and the lives the weekend has touched along the way. We are dedicated to creating an amazing 40th Cork Women’s Weekend filled with laughter, craic and ceol, and we look forward to seeing you all there."

Sinéad Huggins-Young continued, “I am a freelance filmmaker by day, mobile patrol officer by night, and between all that I host a queer radio show called The Gay Agenda. I recently published a book called The Gay Bible that is full of queer terminology. I joined the committee earlier this year.

“I wanted to join Cork Women’s Weekend to be a bit more hands on, and to encourage multiple age demographics to attend and get involved. Since I started attending the weekend I have loved every minute, and want as many people as possible to feel the enjoyment and acceptance that is felt throughout. I am excited to be joining on the 40th anniversary, and to be a part of the massive amount of work that goes on behind the scenes.”

Please join us for what promises to be a fantastic weekend, with wonderful people – as well as the opportunity to “meet” the Cork Women’s Weekend’s very own Barbie AWOL.


Friday 3rd (FREE)

Location: An Sibín, Princes Street, from 7pm Speed Dating Drag King Competition Tunes from DJ A

Saturday 4th Daytime (FREE)

Location: LINC, White Street, from 11am Opening Circle with Hayley Fox-Roberts Body Positivity Workshop with Stephanie Fogarty Loafers Documentary Screening Mocktail Making Class with Sinéad Huggins-Young Sandra’s BBQ Book Readings and Sales, with Orla Egan, JJ Hale, and Sinéad Huggins-Young Location: James Kenneally Sports Hall, Hollyhill, 1.30pm-3.30pm Racket Rebels Badminton Tournament

Saturday 4th Daytime (FREE) 

Location: An Spailpín Fánach, South Main Street Table Quiz Raffle Performances from LINC Drama, Misneach, and Stacey K Karaoke with Prima Donna Location: Vibe, Oliver Plunkett Street After Party from 11:30pm - entry fee applies, payable to the venue

Saturday 4th Evening -TICKETS €25.00

Location: Student Centre, UCC from 8pm History of Cork Women’s Weekend – an exhibition by Orla Egan, Cork LGBT Archive Location: Hamish’s Bar, Student Centre, UCC from 8pm Music from Stephanie Rainey, Witless, and DJ Jules

For further info and a full listing of events for this year’s Cork Women’s Weekend check out their Facebook -Cork Women’s Weekend, and their Instagram - @corkwomensweekend.

Don’t miss out on tickets for this year’s main event on Saturday, May 4, available for purchase in LINC, or email corkwomensweekend. est1984@gmail.com for the link to purchase tickets.

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A Milestone
The Cork Women’s Weekend is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary this May Bank Holiday weekend, and it’s going to be fabulous! Founder of the Cork LGBT Archive, Orla Egan, and members of the Cork Women’s Weekend Committee, fill us in on what to expect. Images courtesy of Cork LGBT Archive.
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