5 - 27 January 2024


Belfast, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Kildare, Limerick, Louth, Meath, Wexford


Free and ticketed events

Every January, the First Fortnight festival challenges mental health stigma and promotes mental health wellbeing through national arts and culture events. This year, discover a forest of illuminated figures in the National Botanic Gardens, learn how to share your personal mental health story in a safe way, join St Patrick’s Mental Health Services for an evening of music and performance, and much more. Here are some of our highlights.

The Creative Well Archive is a publication exploring a 10-year visual arts and health programme, providing space and place for arts participation in many forms for all in County Kildare. The publication launch and a roundtable discussion will take place on 20 January at Riverbank Arts Centre led by artists Emma Finucane and Dominic Thorpe and former Arts and Health Coordinator Carolann Courtney.

Literature & Spoken Word
If you’ve ever struggled with your mental health and want to share a personal story, The Dublin Story Slam is hosting a session at MoLI on 6 January to show you how to find, develop and deliver a personal true story about your own mental health in a safe but empowering way.

The Pain in My Chest (O’Brien Press) is a rhyming tale about overcoming stressful situations, created by Aine Murray and illustrated by Bronagh Lee. An interactive workshop with the author on 9 January is open to school groups. Taking place at the Bank of Ireland Cultural & Heritage Centre, National Library of Ireland.

Droichead Arts Centre in Louth is hosting The Art of Letting Go on 20 January, a mindfulness practice where people take a moment to write something down, something they want to let go of, or a wish, that is then dissolved in water.

Donegal Wellness Cafes are hosting Surviving, Thriving and Recovery, a free series of writing workshops celebrating all the amazingly positive things about us that we sometimes forget. Taking place at Clonmany Wellness Café on 8 January, Moville Wellness Café on 9 January, Lifford Wellness Café and Carndonagh Wellness Café on 10 January, and Dungloe, Buncrana and Donegal Town Wellness Cafés on 11 January.

Music & Performance
First Fortnight and St Patrick’s Mental Health Services are teaming up again to host Cistin, an evening of music, poetry and performance on 11 January. Guest performers include Dafe Orugbo, one half of acclaimed hip-hop duo Tebi Rex and spoken word poet.

Sam’s Collective Queer Open-Mic will celebrate LGBTQIA+ voices through music, poetry, art and more at Wigwam in Dublin on 14 January.

Nollaig na mBan
The last day of Christmas, 6 January, is Nollaig na mBan (Women’s Christmas). Over the course of the day First Fortnight will celebrate women with a series of events in Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre: a panel discussion on the current standing of mental health care for women in Ireland; The Sea and Me, a conversation with Claire Walsh and Ruth Fitzmaurice who turned to the sea for solace, motivation, and joy; and an evening performance with Irish Women in Harmony.

Visual Arts 
Arrive after dark in Dublin’s National Botanic Gardens to discover Silva Lumina, a luminous landscape of lanterns crafted by artist Tom Meskell and fifty community participants. Running from 5 – 14 January, these lanterns embody journeys of hope, community, and collaboration.

Whispers of Resilience by emerging visual artist Rosemary Noonan delves into personal experiences, addressing themes of pregnancy loss and trauma. With the support of the Kildare Arts Council First Fortnight Bursary, her exhibition at Gallery No. 8 (running 6 – 20 January) explores the sensitive nature of fertility issues and celebrates women’s strength in overcoming adversity. A panel discussion on 10 January will include Rosemary, Dr Afif Khuffash, Consultant Neonatologist and Artist, Dr Philomena McCarthy and Lauren Hamilton.

View the full 2024 programme and ticket information at

Feature image: Silva Lumina: Lights of Growth by Tom Meskell and 50 community participants.


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