Marie Brett | Day of the Straws | Visual Arts | Sirius Arts Centre Cobh

Marie Brett | Day of the Straws Marie Brett | Day of the Straws

Teenage girl wearing a face cover, undisclosed location, County Cork, 2020

Marie Brett | Day of the Straws

21st Jun - 31st Oct

Teenage girl wearing a face cover, undisclosed location, County Cork, 2020


Friday, 18 September, 5–7pm
Free, Drop-by
A magical protection and herbal cure mixed with evocative music and soaring vocals as well as apparitions and strawing traditions; this is the digital artwork Day of the Straws, created by the artist Marie Brett in collaboration with the writer Katie Holly, the producer Kate O’Shea and the designer Lucia Pola, and developed in dialogue with Irish and international historians, people of faith, spiritualists, Elders and other interested members of the community. Day of the Straws is a cyber treasure of cultural lore, a response to the collective healing of hope required in the challenging, unprecedented times of COVID-19.
Join us for a specially made film screening about Day of the Straws during Culture Night. The film features interviews and contributions from the creative team and interested members of the community drawn from across Cork County and beyond. This event takes place at SIRIUS on Friday 18 September, from 5pm to 7pm. The film is released on SIRIUS’ YouTube channel on Saturday 19 September.
Day of the Straws is available online at

Marie Brett | Day of the Straws

The artist Marie Brett is developing the project ‘Day of the Straws’, which examines how social history surrounding the 1832 Cholera epidemic relates to modern-day Covid-19. ‘Day of the Straws’ explores events that, while distant in time, seem to share similar features, including supernatural phenomena and fake news. The project is created in collaboration with writer Katie Holly and made in dialogue with community historians, healers, fortune tellers and other interested people. The resulting work includes film, text, sound and image. The project, in all or some of its forms, is presented online via Cork Midsummer Festival and at Sirius Arts Centre throughout 2020.

Day of the Straws

The Day of the Straws were a series of events that took place during Ireland’s 1830’s Cholera epidemic between 9 and 15 June 1832. These events involved folk cure, protective charms and social ritual that spread throughout the island starting in Charleville, County Cork.

The earliest report of the mass hysteria which was sent to Dublin Castle came from Major General G H Barry, Ballyclough House, County Cork. He stated that the Virgin Mary appeared in Charleville church, leaving certain ashes, which she warned were the only protection against Cholera. These were to be delivered to four houses, and then these four householders were to proceed to four more homes, and so on, to spread the message. By the following Tuesday evening, the messengers had reached the borders of Ulster. The message changed on its northerly progression: ashes, turf and stones were used in the east, while straws were used further west.


‘Day of the Straws’ aims to build on ‘Cultural Lore’, a residency that Marie Brett had with Cork Midsummer Festival as part of Creative Enquiry – Arts and Older People, a programme initiated by Cork City Council that explored how people access the arts as they age, held during 2019. ‘Day of the Straws’ also aims to relate to the Covid-19 experience at a global and local level, gathering people’s response to the pandemic in relation to the themes of ‘Cultural Lore’. These themes include ‘Older person’s voice’; ‘Body: medicine, cures, prevention’; ‘Home: cooking, tools, pests’; ‘Mind: the supernatural, magic, telepathy, mediumship’; Land: nature, animals, spirits, weather, almanac’; ‘Rite, ritual, custom’. 


Get involved with ‘Day of the Straws’: the team behind the project is seeking video clips, photos, poems, stories and songs that link to the project's themes. Get in touch with to share any thoughts or items.


Cork Midsummer Festival, from 21 June 2020: piece available to experience through the website and social media channels

Sirius Arts Centre, Culture Night, 18 September 2020: event

Sirius Arts Centre, Samhain, 31 October 2020: event

‘Day of the Straws’ is commissioned by Cork Midsummer Festival, in partnership with Sirius Arts Centre. ‘Day of the Straws’ is part of BE PART, a project supported by Creative Europe, and is also funded by Cork County Council and The Arts Council.