Kilkenny's Starry, starry night - an art project and vigil in solidarity with those who experience domestic violence

Sian Moloughney


Sian Moloughney


Kilkenny Kilkenny

People across Kilkenny have come together to take part in the One Million Stars to End Violence project.

In community groups, pre coronavirus, and now in their homes, people are weaving stars as part of an art project that began in Australia and is now about to decorate the Mill in Kells, Kilkenny.

The One Million Stars to End Violence project began in 2012 by Samoan - Australian artist, Maryann Talia Pau. Siobhan McQuillan brought the project to Kilkenny.
What began as a personal response to the rape and murder of a young Irish woman, Jill Meagher, in Melbourne, grew into an international movement.
Maryann’s goal was to weave and collect one million stars however 2.4 million were received.

Siobhan was introduced to the project while living in Sydney. “The project installation was so impressive, and I was touched by the compelling visual impact it had along with the powerful message that together we can stand against violence while connecting with members of the community,” she said.

“Since returning from Australia I have been working with Amber Women’s Refuge. As an art therapist I saw the valid potential of bringing people together through a creative activity, working to raise domestic violence awareness, offer support and create conversations.”

The Amber Star project’s aim is to raise awareness and provide information about domestic violence in the Kilkenny/ Carlow area. This began prior to Covid-19 by reaching out to a wide age and social demographic through weaving workshops in the community. Groups worked towards the goal of assembling the stars together in a public installation. It is hoped the exhibition will take place during the 16 Days of Activism, later this year.

Above: Members of the Loughboy Knitting Group, pre-coronavirus, who came together to weave stars.

The Covid-19 crisis saw the end of groups star weaving, however people continued to weave stars at home. A WhatsApp group started, then an Instagram page (@irelandstarweavers), for people to share stories.
As a celebration of the International Day of Living in Peace and International Day of Light, weavers in Kells will be hanging their woven stars at Mullins Mill beside the Kings River, from Sunday, May 10.

The Kells star display will culminate in a night vigil on May 16, when the stars will be lit up as a show of support for all those experiencing a challenging and difficult time during Covid-19.
People can join in by hanging stars outside their homes or in their windows.
To coincide with the vigil there will be a virtual concert, via Zoom, on Saturday night.

Since the start of lockdown there has been a 30% increase in domestic abuse reports.
In Kilkenny the Amber helpline is available 24/7 on 1850424244.

Kilkenny County Council are delighted to partner with Amber Women’s Refuge to support this project in raising awareness around domestic violence.
This project will also encourage people to get creative and facilitate a common community goal supporting peoples well being at this difficult time.