'To Be Irish at Christmas' online program underway

Maeve Higgins is but one of many Irish diaspora members participating in 'To Be Irish at Christmas.' Photo by Jeannie O'Brien.


By Irish Echo Staff

Ireland's Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora, Colm Brophy, has launched the inaugural "To Be Irish at Christmas" program.

The online program includes more than 180 online events that will be showcased on

The platform will connect both the global Irish diaspora and those closer to home during the holiday seas and will be live until 31 December, said a release from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

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"Everyone is invited to enjoy and engage with over 180 events from across the globe, containing inputs from every continent bar Antarctica," stated the release.

the Arctic, however, is included in the program.

Program highlights include: Graham Norton will speak to his fellow Corkonian Maeve Higgins about their literary and comic work and what it means to be Irish overseas.

Actor Gabriel Byrne will chat about his new book "Walking with Ghosts" with Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary General Niall Burgess. Acclaimed writer Emma Donoghue joins her brother David Donoghue, a former ambassador to the UN, and two former journalists, author Colum McCann and Irish Ambassador to Kenya, Fionnuala Quinlan, whose lives have taken very different and remarkable paths discuss McCann’s latest novel Apeirogon, and their lives as Irish abroad.

According to the release, in a specially commissioned piece for To Be Irish, District Magazine will team up writers with visual artists across both editorial and video to bring together different perspectives on what it means to be Irish at Christmas. "Homecoming" premiere on December 21st with narration from breakthrough artist Gemma Dunleavy "and a score from the phenomenal James Vincent McMorrow."

The program also includes an insight into the life of an Irishman in the Arctic, Philip Burgess, who will introduce viewers to the world of reindeer husbandry "and the special bond between people and reindeer that holds much wisdom about how to survive and thrive in some of the most inhospitable places on Earth."

The list release added: "A special streaming of A Christmas Letter, the wonderfully festive animation about friendship and the magic of Christmas narrated by Kate Winslet and starring Fiona Shaw, as well as pantos from Dublin, Cork and Belfast and storytelling from Chester Beatty.

"Cooking demonstrations for mince pies, Irish soda bread and more; featuring appearances from some of Ireland’s top culinary talents including Darina Allen, Catherine Fulvio and Lilly Higgins.

"Christmas concerts from around the country, choral events and midnight mass streamed from Christ Church Cathedral Dublin.

"Trad sessions and performances from Irish musicians living in various parts of the world. Be there for the first ever streaming of The Cobblestone sessions – an unmissable night of Irish music.

"Enjoy From The Heartland, a remote musical catch-up: sharing tunes, songs and conversation to usher in Christmas and the New Year featuring Danny Diamond (fiddle), Sheila Friel (uilleann piper) and Dara Yeates.

"Christmases past and a world of documentaries and archive material from the Irish Film Institute, TG4 and RTÉ Archive.

"The one and only Santa Claus will respond to Dear Santa letters received from Irish children across the world.

"Support Irish businesses and give the gift of Ireland by visiting

"Timi Ogunyemi will conclude the event as he explores what it means to be Irish today in a unique travel diary."

The complete program can be viewed at

Minister Colm Brophy said: I am delighted to launch this exciting programme of events which will be available to everyone, both at home and abroad, during the festive period. From traditional music to pantos, cooking festive treats, to seeing the Irish landscape through a new perspective, there will be something for everyone during the two weeks that To Be Irish At Christmas is running.

"There will be new, exciting material made especially for this project and we will also have access to archival material so you can revisit your own memories of Christmas past. We have a number of new initiatives such as ‘Dear Santa’ and ‘Things Remembered’, which we hope will create some new memories of an Irish Christmas. During a Christmas like no other, we hope that To Be Irish at Christmas can showcase Ireland at its best to the world.”