20 May 2022

Celebrating the One Million Stars Project in Kilkenny on International Women's Day

Celebrating the One Million Stars Project in Kilkenny on International Women's Day

To mark International Womens Day the One Million Stars Ireland project will have a star installation at the Amber Women's Refuge and there will also be a number of star exhibitions at locations in Callan.

The project is a community arts initiative that connects through the craft of weaving stars and raises awareness of domestic violence.

The project was launched in Kilkenny in November 2019 and has already reached  over 14,000 stars, following a successful exhibition of 10,000 stars at MacDonagh Junction for the 16 days of Activism. Kilkenny will celebrate International Women’s Day by having a star installation at Amber Women’s Refuge showing support for women affected by domestic abuse. Callan will have star exhibitions in locations around the town including the gates of Droichead family Resource Centre and St Brigid’s College. Callan star weavers under the guidance of Jess Van Valkengoed have been busy and in the last three weeks and have woven over 1,000 stars. The TY students from St Brigid’s College have been attending our zoom weaving workshops and have made a TicTok representing their star journey.

Each star represents light, hope and solidarity against violence and raises awareness of domestic abuse by holding public star installations. Joined together in solidarity against violence, the project promotes the message of hope for a safer future for all.

One Million Stars to End Violence is a global weaving project that has inspired individuals, groups and communities to weave stars to create light, hope and peace in the world. The project was initially started by a Samoan - Australian artist, Maryann Talia Pau inspired by the words of Martin Luther King: "Returning hate for hate multiples hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

It has now become a global movement with over four million stars worldwide. Siobhan McQuillan, an art therapist working alongside Amber Women's Refuge, brought the creative project to Ireland. The project which was launched in Kilkenny in November 2019 has spread across Ireland including counties, Louth, Waterford, Tipperary, Limerick, Mayo, Monaghan, Cavan, Meath and Westmeath.  

The Covid pandemic saw people from Kilkenny and across the country weave stars at home to inspire and stay connected. This is an inclusive community project that includes TY students, care home residents, Syrian women’s groups, Respond, Rehab Ireland, Mental Health Ireland, Family Recourse Centres, Irish Girl Guides the Irish Country Women’s Association, Irish Wheelchair Association, and individual weavers across the country who weave at home. The project has kept communities connected by being together/apart through the art of weaving. Stars are collected and form part of public installations.

“The stars have come to symbolise many things to many people. They signify light, hope and courage and although originally the main aim of the project was to raise domestic violence awareness it became apparent that the stars have become imbued with different meaning; remembrance for those who have passed away, solidarity and support for front line workers during the Covid Pandemic, a light in the darkness for those experiencing dark and difficult times particularly during the social isolation of lockdown. They are a sign of connection to a wider community.  They represent solidarity against injustice and present an opportunity for an activity that is cross cultural and cross generational”. said Siobhan McQuillan, an art therapist who works with Amber Women's Refuge.

“Over the past year I have been reaching out and supporting other counties to start their own star weaving communities and help us reach the goal of weaving one million stars for Ireland. In the past year we have woven over 30,000 stars," she added. 

 To register as a star weaver or find a weaving community already in your area visit  

In 2020 270 women accessed  support and information through the Amber helpline service. There were 485 referrals to Amber Women’s Refuge Services, of these referrals- 172 referrals were for Amber’s outreach, court support, counselling and childcare Services. 313 referrals were for accommodation. 183 were not accommodated due to lack of space. 33 Women and 21 Children were accommodated in the refuge.


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