Health and Fitness

The best young talent in Ireland

MOVIES AND TV

By Donald Clarke

Alison Oliver

Alison Oliver
Actor
“Alison’s audition tape was a revelation,” director Lenny Abrahamson says. “In terms of subtlety, expressiveness and screen presence, she’s the equal of any actor I’ve worked with.” Alison Oliver, a proud 24-year-old Cork woman, graduate of the prestigious Lir Academy of Dramatic Art, found herself in the headlines last February when, a virtual unknown, she was cast opposite Joe Alwyn and Sasha Lane in Element Pictures’ adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends. Abrahamson, who directed the smash version of Rooney’s Normal People, is back behind the camera. “It was a complete shock,” she says of that successful audition. “Even on the other side of it, I cannot believe that happened. It was just the most surreal experience. Prior to the part, I was already a massive Sally Rooney fan.” Element does not yet have a broadcast date, but the show is likely to emerge in the spring. Oliver’s face will then be everywhere. “Just watching the reaction of crew as we filmed was so exciting,” Abrahamson says. “It was immediately apparent to everyone on set how special she is.”

Florence Adebambo

Florence Adebambo
Actor
“I am finishing school, but I’m taking on any acting job and any opportunities that come my way,” Florence Adebambo tells me. This somewhat undersells the promising work coming down the tube in 2022. A native of Leixlip, Adebambo has already appeared in the RTÉ drama Taken Down and the video for Hozier’s song, Nina Cried Power. She will be on our screens in three high-profile projects over the next 12 months. She is still doing post-production work on Frank Berry’s eagerly anticipated Aisha. Starring Letitia Wright (of Black Panther fame) and Josh O’Connor (he of The Crown), the picture goes among asylum seekers maintained in the controversial direct provision system. “Having the opportunity to work with Letitia Wright was amazing,” she says. “She is an amazing influence on me as a black woman trying to make it.” Adebambo also appears opposite Olivia Colman in Emer Reynolds’s Joyride and excels in Kate Dolan’s terrific urban horror You Are Not My Mother. We saw that last project at the Toronto International Film Festival and it is not to be missed.

Agnes O’Casey. Photograph: Pip Bourdillon

Agnes O’Casey
Actor
Agnes “Aggi” O’Casey shows admirable patience when she is asked about being the great-granddaughter of a certain distinguished Irish playwright. “Oh no, I grew up in the UK,” she says laughing. “And I was really proud of that heritage and really excited about it. But no one really knows about [Seán] O’Casey over there.”

She is right not to worry. Following a breakthrough performance in the BBC’s Ridley Road and a key role in Druid’s production of The Seagull, Seán’s 27-year-old descendent is now on a sharp skyward gradient. We will soon see her in Lisa Mulcahy’s film of Sheridan Le Fanu’s classic Gothic shocker Uncle Silas. Aggi is the misused protagonist. David Wilmot is the eponymous villain. “We have finished filming that now,” she says. “I am unsure about when it’s going to be out. But [this] year.”

Her next role will be in Sharon Maguire’s version of Jo Baker’s Longbourn. The film retells a familiar Regency romance from the staff’s perspective. “Yeah. The working class retelling of Pride and Prejudice. It’s really, really good.”

Frank Blake. Photograph: Jed Niezgoda

Frank Blake
Actor
Frank Blake, a handsome Clare man with a good line in simmer, comes from an interesting background. “Our family has an equestrian centre,” he explains. “So I walked from one sort of life into another.” The horses’ loss was the audience’s gain. A graduate of the Lir Academy, Frank is already known as Marianne’s faintly sinister brother in Normal People. He had roles in Bridgerton, Game of Thrones and the Russo brothers’ Cherry. This year he elbows his way to the front of the crowd with a key role in the second season of Sanditon, continuing its take on an unfinished Jane Austen novel, and a still under-the-horned-hat part in Netflix’s Vikings: Valhalla, follow up to the hit Norse series.

“Yeah, I did that back in September 2020,” he says. “But it took quite a while. It’s a bit of a big, old show,” he says. A very different period piece to the jodhpurs of Sanditon? “Yeah, I was in Bristol for the whole summer – about three or four months,” he says. “Loved it. I could see myself spending a bit more time there.”

Lydia McGuinness

Lydia McGuinness
Actor
The acting lark has taken Lydia McGuinness up, down and around. As we speak, she is braving lovely Clifden for the upcoming TV series North Sea Connection. “To be honest, this is probably the most physical stuff I’ve done. I’ve loved it. Being outdoors in Connemara of all places is absolutely incredible.”

McGuinness plays Ciara, a woman whose life is kicked into disarray by her brother’s involvement in drugs smuggling. Sinéad Cusack and Kerr Logan flesh out an impressive cast.

The coming year offers deserved focus for the 38-year-old Dubliner whose charisma has bolstered a number of notable productions over the past few years. You can see her in the beloved Sing Street and the already legendary Wild Mountain Thyme. As well as North Sea Connection, she will appear alongside Barry Ward and Ericka Roe in Sunlight, the much anticipated drama from Claire Dix. It sounds as if it’s all happening. “I don’t think like that. The crystal ball stuff?” she says. “There is no rush. There is no timeline.”

POLITICS

By Harry McGee

Claire Kerrane. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Claire Kerrane
Sinn Féin TD
Claire Kerrane may have been the youngest female TD elected to the 33rd Dáil but unlike other Sinn Féin rookies, she was a seasoned pro by comparison. At just 29, the TD for Roscommon-Galway has been immersed in politics since she was a teenager.

From a non-political family in Tibohine, halfway between Frenchpark and Ballaghaderreen in Co Roscommon, Kerrane joined the party at 17, becoming involved in the campaign to prevent the closure of A&E facilities at Roscommon Hospital.

She studied at NUI Galway where she and Maireád Farrell (now a TD for Galway West) were prominent in the Sinn Féin cumann. She worked as an assistant to independent TD Luke “Ming” Flanagan and then in Leinster House for Sinn Féin as its researcher on social protection and rural affairs. She also ran in the 2016 general election at the age of 22. In between she qualified as a teacher.

Having won the last seat in Roscommon-Galway in 2020, she was immediately appointed to the front bench as social and rural affairs spokeswoman.

Kerrane is one of only a handful of new TDs in the party who regularly appears on the media. She is personable, articulate though understated in style. She is also reluctant to stray too far out from her brief in terms of comment. One of her big recent projects was collating a survey she organised on the cost of living, which attracted an impressive 14,500 responses. She also happens to be a massive Westlife fan.

Uruemu Adejinmi. Photograph: Kathleen Harris

Uruemu Adejinmi
Fianna Fáil councillor, Mayor of Longford
Last year, Fianna Fáil held a selection convention to choose its candidate for the Seanad byelection. There were 13 nominations for the ticket. Some were household names. The biggest surprise of this bumper race was the candidate who came from nowhere to be pipped at the post in the final shake-up. She was Uruemu Adejinmi, from Co Longford, one of only two black councillors in the State out of almost 950; the other is former Gogglebox Ireland star, Yemi Adenuga, a Fine Gael councillor in Co Meath.

The first lines of her pitch to the party’s TDs and Senators was typical of her can-do style. “Adejinmi may not be a traditional Irish name, but neither was de Valera or Markievicz.”

The 43-year-old a maths graduate from Nigeria has been living in Longford for more than 15 years. She has been an active volunteer in her parish, schools and with the Longford Slashers GAA club. She was also the founder of Longford Africans Network and has been a pioneer at fostering integration, both at local and national level.

Coaxed to join Fianna Fáil in 2018, she was co-opted to the county council in 2020 and became the first African-born mayor in Ireland this summer when taking the chain of office in Longford. Unrelentingly positive about a town and county that attracts negative commentary, she said upon her election that a banner should be erected outside the town: “Welcome to Longford, where dreams come true.”

As a councillor she has campaigned to make sanitary products available in all public buildings. Highly rated in Fianna Fáil she happens to be in one of the few constituencies where the party has two TDs – Robert Troy and her political mentor, Joe Flaherty. A run for the Seanad is a more likely option next time round.

Rebecca Moynihan. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Rebecca Moynihan
Labour Senator
Rebecca Moynihan has been one of her party’s brightest young prospects for more than a decade, since first she announced herself as chairwoman of the party’s youth wing and then as a member of Dublin City Council.

From a working class family in Rialto, the 40-year-old Dubliner has represented her own south inner city community throughout her career. An activist at heart, she was centrally involved in the campaigns for same-sex marriage and repealing the ban on abortion.

Even before her election to the council in 2009, she was being mooted as a candidate for the Dáil. However, she wasn’t selected in 2011 when the party won two seats in Dublin South Central and did not get her opportunity until 2020 when Labour were squeezed out by a huge Sinn Féin vote in the constituency.

She is the party’s spokeswoman on housing and has performed well, despite the disadvantage of having to operate from the second house. Her style combines passion and pragmatism. It is mostly effective. Earlier this year, she published a Bill to combat period poverty in schools and public buildings. If the party is on a path to recovery next time out, she is one of its strongest hopes of gaining a seat.

Eileen Lynch
Eileen Lynch

Eileen Lynch
Fine Gael councillor
Another of the young representatives who have been immersed in politics since her teenage years, 30-year-old Eileen Lynch, from Aghabullogue, Co Cork has already amassed a lengthy CV. A member of Cork County Council, she has worked as a parliamentary assistant for two senators, Colm Burke (now a TD) and Michael Comiskey.

She was also chosen as secretary general of the youth wing of the European People’s Party, which represents more than a million youth members of Christian Democrat and conservative parties in the EU. It was a role which saw her based part-time in Brussels helping to formulate policy reflective of younger EPP members: while there she was one of the initiators of a Europe-wide campaign supporting democratic principles in Belarus.

Lynch has a degree in law and Irish and works as a solicitor in Cork city. Her main interests are agriculture and rural affairs as well as adult disability health services. Her electoral area of Macroom is mainly in the Cork North West constituency. She says she would like to stand for the Dáil in future “if the opportunity arises”.

Pauline O'Reilly
Pauline O’Reilly

Pauline O’Reilly
Green Party Senator
Pauline O’Reilly is one of four Green senators – along with Róisín Garvey, Pippa Hackett and Vincent P Martin – who came close to winning a seat in the 2020 general election but fell short in the end.

She was first elected to Galway City Council in 2019, as part of a mini surge by the Greens in the county. In theory, artsy and liberal Galway would be a natural fit for the Green Party but its candidates have failed to get over the line. O’Reilly’s fate in 2020 was no different.

Subsequently elected to the Seanad, she was an out-and-out Eamon Ryan loyalist during the divisive internal rows and was not shy in expressing her views. For example, she was one of the co-signatories of a contentious motion of no confidence in party chairwoman Hazel Chu after she sought an independent nomination to the Seanad. Therefore, within the party, she is not everyone’s cup of lemon tea.

O’Reilly, who worked as a solicitor, was chairwoman of the Steiner school movement in Galway (as was Garvey in Co Clare) before her election. As a Senator, she has campaigned to provide free contraceptives to younger women and has been an activist on liberal issues and, of course, climate. After mounting a high-profile campaign that saw her visit virtually every constituency in the country, she was recently elected as the chair of the party*. Her profile nationally is expected to rise.

MUSIC

By Andrea Cleary

Selló

Selló
It’s probably no longer fair to say that Irish hip hop is “having a moment” – it’s been “having a moment” arguably since Rusangano Family took home the Choice Prize in 2017, and plenty of pioneers of the sound went unrecognised in the years prior. No, Irish rap is here to stay. Thankfully, there’s more variety these days than ever, with rap acts crossing over into pop music, collaborating with traditional Irish singers and, as Clondalkin-born artist Selló indicates, nurturing a burgeoning drill scene that stretches the breadth of the island.

“That’s my buachaill, that’s my bro,” Selló announces on his 2021 single As Gaeilge over a Celtic beat, throwing in the odd cúpla focail as a means to root the drill sound in home soil. Identity has been a major theme in Ireland’s emerging rap artists, particularly how Black Irishness is celebrated, and Selló seems like a sure bet to be the first Irish drill artist to get national radio play in the country.

Kynsy. Photograph: George Voronov

Kynsy
Ciara Lindsey has been releasing sharp, witty and impeccably produced indie pop over the past year, to much acclaim both here in Ireland and in publications abroad. Citing The Strokes as a major inspiration, she blends pop melodies with heady synths in tracks that are written, performed and arranged solo. Her EP Things That Don’t Exist, released in early 2021, featured four tracks – any one of which could have launched her career – which bring the sound and sensibilities of indie guitar rock right up to date. Happiness Isn’t A Fixed State takes Strokes-laden guitars and blends them with Lindsey’s sardonic-pop delivery and lyrics that are wise beyond her years. With another EP on the way in 2022, as well as a host of headline and festival dates, Kynsy is firmly on the radar for the next 12 months. A must-hear for anyone who thinks the golden age of guitar music is dead.

MUSIC Pow Pig
Pow Pig

Pow Pig
Not quite the 14-piece boy band from Limerick that their Twitter bio suggests, Pow Pig have been making waves in Ireland’s underground indie scene since forming in school as part of the Music Generation Limerick project. The Limerick four-piece, comprising Anna Marie Rooney, Andrea Mocanu, Laura Drennan and Leah O’Donnell, has two dreamy EPs under their belt, with promises to return to releasing music in late 2022.

After finishing out 2019 supporting Gilla Band (formerly Girl Band), the stage was set for a huge 2020 – in fact, they were hailed as ones to watch in this publication – but we know what happened then. Instead, the band released the introspective single Intellectual in 2021 with proceeds going to Limerick’s ICU in University Hospital Limerick and to Masi – the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland. This is a young band with serious chops, a signature sound and plenty of time to figure it out. Perfect for fans of Silverbacks and Pillow Queens, here’s hoping that next year will see Pow Pig have the year they were supposed to have in 2020.

Tolu Makay. Photograph: Brian Teeling

Tolu Makay
Probably the most recognisable face on this list, Tolu Makay made waves during the pandemic with her cover of The Saw Doctors N17, performed with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra on New Year’s Eve 2020. Since that performance, there’s been one question on everyone’s mind – when will we hear more from this great talent? There wasn’t too long to wait; February saw the release of You Are Enough, a soulful call for self-love and empowerment, and in March a collaboration with Enda Gallery, The Greatest Gift (Ireland In Music) saw Makay flex her soulful vocals in a mournful duet. Born in Nigeria and raised in the midlands, Makay cut her teeth singing in church groups – and winning a national gospel competition – and has steadily grown into an artist with her own vision, selling out gigs all over Ireland and racking up hundreds of thousands of streams on music platforms and YouTube. Makay’s debut album will be released in 2022.

Amy Michelle. Photograph: Lewis Vorn

Amy Michelle
With just one solitary song on her Spotify page, Amy Michelle is an intriguing new voice to keep an eye on over the coming 12 months. The Mullingar artist’s bedroom pop cover of Fontaines DC’s Roy’s Tune was a dreamy introduction to her lo-fi, whispered vocals and warm guitar playing, while the music video – shot in her bedroom, replete with fluffy heart pillows and a copy of James Joyce’s Dubliners – was a fish-eye lens peek into Gen Z aesthetics; pink guitars, band posters and a despondent disposition. She is signed with UK label Method Records (Slowthai, Disclosure, Sam Smith), and managed by Red Light (Kojaque). Her one release proper, a lo-fi tune called The Bottom Of The Wall, calls to mind the melancholy of Phoebe Bridgers and the dreamy lyrics of Clairo. Amy Michelle will release her debut EP in spring 2022, alongside a number of Irish dates.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP

By Ciara O’Brien

Tom McCarthy
Tom McCarthy

Tom McCarthy
Patch
Helping to create the next generation of entrepreneurs is no easy feat. But Tom McCarthy is doing just that, with his youth-focused accelerator. Established by McCarthy in 2018, it identifies high potential youth and supports their development. Already supported by Pointy’s Mark Cummins, Dogpatch Labs and the Naughton Foundation, along with entrepreneurs Bobby Healy and Ray Nolan, McCarthy notched up another win recently with a three-year support deal from payments technology company Stripe. Now the plan is to expand out beyond tech to include science and research projects, in addition to developing national programmes for identifying talented youth. A potential international expansion is also being considered.

Riley
Lauren Duggan, Fiona Parfrey and Aine Kilkenny

Aine Kilkenny, Lauren Duggan, Fiona Parfrey
Riley
Female-founded Riley has a mission in mind: to bring sustainable, plastic-free period products conveniently to your door in a subscription box. The brainchild of friends Lauren Duggan, Fiona Parfrey and Aine Kilkenny, the company was started following a post-lockdown catch-up. Launched in April 2021, the boxes sold out online within a week, and the company has blazed a trail ever since. Riley is also trying to tackle period poverty, partnering with an Irish-registered charity in Kenya that provides period products to women and girls, sponsoring an education programme for girls in rural Kenya on menstrual health.

Greg Tarr
Gregory Tarr

Gregory Tarr
Inferex
The teenage winner of the BT Young Scientist & Technology exhibition has had a busy year. It started on a high in January, when Gregory Tarr won the overall prize at the competition with his software that is designed to detect deepfakes. After finishing out the school year, Tarr set up Inferex to commercialise his technology and improve how artificial intelligence is deployed. He has since raised more than $1 million in seed funding from investors in Ireland and Europe.

Mirr
Jack O’Regan Kenny and Alice Shaughnessy

Alice Shaughnessy and Jack O’Regan Kenny
Mirr
The teenage cofounders of smart mirror company Mirr could have a bright future ahead of them. Alice Shaughnessy and Jack O’Regan Kenny came up with Mirr, a space-saving, smart surface that builds tablet features such as internet access and streaming services into a reflective surface. That means you can watch a YouTube make-up tutorial while following along, or watch Netflix on your bedroom “mirror”. The project has been involved in a number of programmes, from Patch and New Frontiers to Pioneer and the National Start-up Awards.

Akara founders Michael Cullinan, Eamonn Bourke, Conor McGinn, Cian Donovan, Niamh Donnelly
Michael Cullinan, Eamonn Bourke, Conor McGinn, Cian Donovan, Niamh Donnelly

Conor McGinn, Niamh Donnelly, Cian O’Donovan, Michael Cullinane, Eamonn Bourke
Akara Robotics
It started with Stevie, the social care robot that was built to interact with older residents in nursing and retirement homes. That was enough to get Akara Robotics, a TCD spinout company, on to the front of Time Magazine as one of the best inventions of 2019 and bring it to international attention. Then the pandemic hit, stalling plans to commercialise Stevie. Akara turned its attention to hospitals, coming up with Violet, the disinfection robot that became a feature of hospitals in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak. In October, Akara was been awarded EU funding through the EIC programme, setting the company up for future growth.

SUSTAINABILITY

By Catherine Cleary

Pranjali Bhave, Áine Bird and Brendan Dunford. Photograph: Willie O’Reilly

Pranjali Bhave, Áine Bird and Brendan Dunford
Burrenbeo
Pranjali Bhave is part of Burrenbeo, a dedicated collective of nine people helping farmers to work with the nature and heritage around them. Founded by Dr Brendan Dunford and his late wife, Ann O’Connor, the project is a model for nature-positive food production. This year the charity’s Áine Bird will lead a new project to create a generation of heritage keepers showing school children how to investigate their local heritage and take action to take care of it. Bhave has also been delighted with the response to the Hare’s Corner project which will grant-aid farmers to plant a native woodlands, native orchards and ponds in lesser used areas. And finally she’ll be steering the Burren Pine Project, which aims to keep our native pine from extinction. A €100 donation gets a native Scots Pine planted with five native companion trees on a Burren farm.

Dr Alma Calvin
Teresa Dillon

Dr Alma Calvin and Teresa Dillon
Repair Acts
Bringing academic, artistic and community excitement to the idea of repairing things is the aim of geographer Dr Alma Calvin and artist Teresa Dillon. In the coming year they will be collecting 1,000 stories of repair in Co Westmeath. Their website will form a repository for people to upload a picture and details of an object they have repaired, are trying to repair or have failed to repair. The project is in partnership with Westmeath County Council and by next December they hope to create a Repair Declaration for the county to commit to repair standards.

Funded by Creative Ireland, Calvin and Dillon hope the project could be rolled out to other counties for a lasting impact by tapping into our rich heritage of repair and future where the circular economy is central to how we use things.

James McConville, Kevin Loftus and Tom Lyndsay

James McConville, Kevin Loftus and Tom Lyndsay
Accelerating Change Together
An architecture practice that is also a social enterprise is a pretty unique offering but it’s what James McConville, Kevin Loftus and Tom Lyndsay have put together. Accelerating Change Together (Act) aims to build collaborations between communities, architects, designers and policy specialists. They have a large-scale vision to help turn Ballina in Co Mayo into Ireland’s greenest town and want to do it with huge community involvement. They have developed an online tool to make it easy for organisations to see how their activities align with the Sustainable Development Goals. A third string to their bow is Restorify, a digital platform where tree-planting projects can crowd-fund, record each tree planted with its name, location and the person who planted it for future generations.

Glasrai Farm: Maria McDonnell, Craig Livingstone, Lynn Longman, Joe Reilly, Erica Rate, Wayne Walsh, Aoife Reilly, with small helpers Abhainn, Eden and Sage Reilly
Maria McDonnell, Craig Livingstone, Lynn Longman, Joe Reilly, Erica Rate, Wayne Walsh, Aoife Reilly, with small helpers Abhainn, Eden and Sage Reilly

Joe and Aoife Reilly
Glasraí Farm
Aoife and Joe Reilly established Glasraí Farm six years ago in Hollymount, Co Mayo in a 7 and a bit acre field that had been part of Joe’s father’s dairy farm. The couple met on an organic horticulture course. Their plans to start an organic vegetable farm worried Aoife’s mother as she grew up on a farm and knew what a tough life it could be. The team of people is what Aoife and Joe love about their business.

“Everyone’s very interested in food and farming and that’s what keeps us going. It keeps you excited.” They also love learning about new soil science and the microbiology “and how that matters to our health”. Their care for the soil means there’s no bare ground in their market garden operation. If a crop isn’t being grown, they have cover crops. They “grow for taste” with more than 60 different vegetables and fruits. The best compliment they’ve received on the market has been a customer who told them: “that carrot tasted even better than it did when I was a kid”. Do loss-leader supermarket vegetable deals upset them? “It used to break my heart,” Aoife says, “but now I think we’re just so far removed. There’s no such thing as cheap vegetables. Either the environment or human health will pay the price.”

Sadhbh Burt Fitzgerald

Sadhbh Burt Fitzgerald
Bí Urban
Whatever the weather in 2022, for Sadhbh Burt Fitzgerald it will be all about rain. She is running a project to install up to 200 rain gardens in areas of north Dublin in conjunction with the Local Authorities Water Programme and Dublin City Council. After studying photography Burt Fitzgerald found herself in a media and marketing role, “the digital world is our native territory”. But she found it “soul-destroying” and disconnected with how she felt about the climate and biodiversity crises.

“These issues can feel so overwhelming but when you bring it down to a community level it changes your whole perspective. You feel so much more positive about the kind of change you can implement.”

Both she and her mother, Kaethe Burt-O’Dea, are “very close to our neighbours in one way or another” and that close-knit community helped Kaethe found Bí Urban, which had a shop presence in Stoneybatter for five years, closing its doors at the end of 2021. The rain garden project has the potential to become a model urban project for managing flood events, increasing biodiversity and giving people a beautiful practical step they can take. If you live in one of the target areas, you can register your interest online.

FASHION & BEAUTY

By Deirdre McQuillan and Laura Kennedy

Ami Hope Jackson

Ami Hope Jackson
Model
Ami Jackson has been much in demand the past year, gracing the cover of The Gloss, working on campaigns for Brown Thomas as well as others all in the space of just four months. “She has a bit of magic about her,” says photographer Perry Ogden who reckons that 22-year-old Ami is one of the best Irish models with whom he has ever worked.

Jackson also graduated this year from NCAD with a degree in fine. “I love how modelling and art entwine. Though my career as an artist will always take precedence over modelling, I am enjoying the journey that modelling has taken me on,” she says.

Of mixed Irish/Japanese parentage, Jackson lived in Japan until the age of nine. Her mother is Japanese and used to work for Yohji Yamamoto (the veteran Japanese fashion designer). “Japan has been a huge influence in my work which is about belonging and having a sense of home.”

Photographers she has worked with have included Perry Ogden (“focused and such a perfectionist”), Eilish McCormick (“so lovely”) and Alex Hutchinson (“high energy and makes you feel great”). She wears a lot of her mother’s clothes from an all-black wardrobe but enjoys having fun with fashion. “I love how clothes can reflect how you feel and modelling is like playing dress up.”

Dan Comerford

Dan Comerford
Photographer
Dan Comerford started taking pictures at an early age, an attraction he attributes to a grandfather and a mother who also had cameras “so it passed down the line”. His grandfather, a dentist, took lots of slides from his holidays and now this 21-year-old Dubliner is set on making photography his career using skills he acquired studying digital marketing and a Pentax (1967) camera. “I learn as I go and shoot mainly on film,” he says, his preference being for landscape rather than studio work.

He has set up in Paris, “living two lives – one to pay the bills and one to follow the dream” working as a barista, but steadily getting photographic gigs, most recently shooting for Maison Kitsune, a French music and clothing label and covering a GStar event. His photos were used as a collage in a video from a Tommy Hilfiger/ Timberland collaboration though his favourite photos are his portraits of Irish musician Kojaque in Paris.

Comerford’s attitude to fashion is one he describes “as being on the outside looking in”. During lockdown, he sold some 5,000 of his prints online on Chrome Studios’ website. He also has a clothing brand with his own screen-printed tees, “but photography is the main driver in my life and one of the reasons I am happy is taking photographs. My life revolves around it.”

Stephen Blake

Stephen Blake
Tailor
Determined to be a modern tailor, 28-year-old Stephen Blake has firm ideas of what his ethos is when it comes to clothes. “Clothes should be all inclusive and never exclude people for gender norms. I want people to feel comfortable and confident in their self-expression, getting rid of terms like “menswear” and “womenswear”. I want to introduce femininity to masculine tailoring and vice versa and cross boundaries through clothing,” he says.

From Laois, he initially studied graphic design, later working in the hospitality industry. However, two six-week courses at the Grafton Academy awakened a passion for tailoring and during lockdown, he stayed with his mother in Laois for months “and really got into sewing” then returned to the Grafton for further study. He is now completing his second diploma course.

Ambitious to make clothing to the highest standards, he aims to head to Savile Row to further his career in the trade and although he admires the way Thom Browne and Alexander McQueen have pushed boundaries, he wants to rely on his own inspiration rather than that of others. “Tailors have become a lost trade, but I want to bring it back. I want to take the rules of bespoke tailoring and reapply them to all forms of clothing, be it an androgynous suit or a man’s ballgown. What I want to do for the rest of my life is make clothes and to make them better and better.

Sarah Keary. Photograph: Anouska Proetta Brandon

Sarah Keary
Make-up artist
Cork-born entrepreneur Sarah Keary is a make-up artist with 17 years’ experience. Keary’s family runs a motor company in Cork, which the 35 year old credits with sparking her interest in business growing up. Her love of make-up can be traced to a professional make-up lesson Keary’s mother bought her at 13. “I have worked extremely hard to become one of the busiest celebrity, wedding and editorial make-up artists in Ireland,” she says. In 2019, Keary launched her beauty brand, BYSK, with a range of affordable, high-quality make-up brushes: “2022 will see the launch of my debut make-up range. I have spent two years testing samples and perfecting the formulas and taken feedback from all of my clients on what they love or what they feel is missing in their handbag. I feel I have identified some key gaps in the market.”

Amy Cahill

Amy Cahill
Oxmantown skincare
Amy Cahill, the 37-year-old founder of Oxmantown skincare, grew up in Dunboyne, Co Meath before training as a beauty therapist. She then “spent several years travelling all over Asia studying holistic therapies such as yoga, aromatherapy, reflexology and Ayurveda”. On Cahill’s return to Ireland, she set up a holistic and skincare practice, where she realised “there was a gap in the market for natural, handmade skincare” and decided to create a natural skincare brand. “Once Covid hit I could no longer practise massage and facials, so I took my business completely online and closed the physical practice. Since then, the online and wholesale business has gone from strength to strength.” 2022 will see Oxmantown Skincare focus on sustainability and streamline its product range.

FOOD AND WINE

By Corinna Hardgrave

Audrey Cahatol. Photograph: Naoise Culhane Photography
Audrey Cahatol. Photograph: Naoise Culhane Photography

Audrey Cahatol
Chef
A particularly light dessert at my recent dinner in Library St in Dublin had me wondering, whose idea it was to add a slightly textural note. It was an espuma of sheep’s milk and Velvet Cloud yoghurt with clementines and a refreshingly zesty clementine sorbet, but the slight bite of the ground mix of dehydrated zest and sugar was what made the dish so individual and special. The chef behind this inspired embellishment is 24-year-old Audrey Cahatol, who came to Ireland from the Philippines when she was 10. She studied at DIT, worked as a chef in The Pig’s Ear and Forest & Marcy, and front of house at the Grapevine in Dalkey, before joining the opening team at Kevin Burke’s exciting new restaurant and wine bar. Burke is the sort of mentor you want if you’ve got talent, so it is going to be very interesting to watch Cahatol progress and develop what seems to be a very intuitive style.

Conor Halpenny

Conor Halpenny
Chef
Conor Halpenny, now 27, was just 23 when he won the Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year in 2017, the competition that propelled Mark Moriarty to winning the Best Young Chef in the World in 2015. At the time, he was working in Chapter One under Ross Lewis, learning those classic techniques which are the critical building blocks for an ambitious chef. Over the years, he has worked with Robbie Krawczyk and Conor Mee, before taking up the head chef role in The Square, in Dundalk, when it opened in 2019. It’s a restaurant that would not look out of place in Dublin. Casual, with a well-priced menu; at its core, it is driven by great produce – fish from Clogherhead, vegetables from a local organic grower and Ballymakenny Farm, and meat hung to his specification. Rumour has it that the Michelin Guide have been in, so I would not be surprised if he lands a Michelin Bib Gourmand in the next guide.

Shalom Osaidi. Photograph: Shamim Malekmian

Shalom Osaidi
Entrepreneur
Shamim Malekmian, a journalist who covers the immigration beat for Dublin Inquirer, put 28-year-old Shalom Osaidi on my radar. A serial entrepreneur, he moved to Ireland from Nigeria when he was nine, studied data analytics at DCU, and earlier this year, launched Esca Menu, a website that connects chefs of colour cooking from home with people who would love to try their dishes. It is perfect for young cooks and chefs who don’t have the resources to open their own restaurant. This is no amateur operation, he has partnered with the HSE, all the operations are vetted, and they take a mere 2 per cent commission, versus the typical 25 per cent commanded by the better known aggregators. He describes what they provide as culturally authentic food that you won’t find elsewhere, Egyptian, Nigerian, West African and Indian. He says that at least 10 per cent of the 60 operators on the platform have big plans to grow their user base and eventually open a restaurant.

Sinead McCarthy

Sinead McCarthy
Sommelier
Lockdown and a pared-back reopening has meant the hospitality business is quite different from how we remember it two years ago. Some familiar faces have gone, and others, who we barely knew, are emerging. Sinead McCarthy, a 28-year-old nutrition and food science graduate from UCC, started working front of house in Chapter One in 2018. At the time, Cathryn Bell, who went on to become the award-winning sommelier in Aimsir, was working there, Julie Dupouy was training the wine team, and Ross Lewis encouraged and supported staff who wanted to take the WSET wine exams. In March 2020, McCarthy moved to Wine Mason, one of the country’s top wine importers, run by Master of Wine Barbara Boyle and her husband, Ben Mason, and was part of the team who ran the upstairs wine shop at Forest Avenue. Soon to complete the WSET diploma, she is now quietly making her mark as the sommelier in Volpe Nero in Blackrock, with a great wine list and some very interesting wine pairings.

Killian Horan. Photograph: Susan Bell Photography

Killian Horan
Winemaker
Anyone following Dublin Cellar Rat on Instagram will have vicariously worked through the 2021 harvest with him, seen him make wine, and thought, doesn’t that look idyllic? Except that’s not the reality. Killian Horan, now 29, who works in the Leeson Street branch of Neighbourhood Wine, made his first vintage in 2020, from the Syrah grapes that remained after the deer and boar had rifled through the vineyard. Then, as can be the case with winemaking unless you’re there every day to check it, it all went horribly wrong. He got his hands on more grapes, made another wine, and now we have 480 bottles of Le Charletan on our shores in Ireland. There may be one or two bottles left in Neighbourhood Wine or Green Man Wines. Get there fast. Not many people make their first bottle of wine at 28, and only the truly dedicated see a failure as precious learning. This is the mark of a great winemaker. Watch out for his 2021 vintage next year.

ACTIVISM

By Kitty Holland

Leah Whelan

Leah Whelan
Councillor
It was the lack of young, working class women that 24-year-old Leah Whelan first noticed when she started her career as a councillor in her native Tallaght this year.

As one of the youngest councillors in the State, representing Solidarity, she says it was something “you see straight away when you are a young working class woman yourself”. Issues affecting women like her and her peers “don’t get a look in” as a result, in the way they should, she says.

The crack cocaine crisis, which is hitting women and their children so hard in west Tallaght, underfunded domestic violence refuges, awful housing conditions and the housing crisis are among them.

“I have a big group of about 25 friends and only one or two of us is renting. The rest are still at home. It has a big effect on our mental health.” Though loving her role as a councillor, real politics she says “is in grass-roots activism”.

“We know from Repeal the Eighth, water charges, marriage equality – it’s people power, feet on the street, young people getting organised and challenging vested interests, that’s what actually brings about substantial change. That is my goal, to keep building that movement.”

Jack McGinn. Photograph: Eamon Ward

Jack McGinn
Education officer
At just 15 years old, Jack McGinn, a student at Ardscoil Rís in Limerick city, knows already the power of unassailable facts, to any cause. Education officer with the Irish Second Level Students Union (ISSU), he was last year involved in a collaborative report between the union and the Economic and Social Research Institute on senior cycle reform.

“That report really legitimised us a union, brought us into communication with the department in other aspects of our work too.

“I have a vision for the role of education officer and where we could bring it. I want to do more scientific reports, gather data that we can use in communications with the Oireachtas and Government, on issues that affect students.”

Among those is the inadequacy – as he sees it – of RSE (relationship and sexuality education) and the place of religious instruction in schools.

“Most students are not receiving any good RSE at all,” he says. On religion, the ISSU “doesn’t want religion in schools. It’s not an anti-religion thing. It’s about ensuring the subjects are taught factually and are not being influenced by religion. And it’s ensuring equality for all, so some students don’t have to [spend] religion class out.” In the future, he’s “open to a career in politics” but has his eye on human rights law.

Megan Berry. Photograph: Finbarr O’Rourke

Megan Berry
Traveller outreach officer
As a child Megan Berry, the 25-year-old Traveller outreach officer at Maynooth University, moved around a lot.

“I attended four primary schools and two secondary schools so I had a variety of experiences of education, which made me very interested in how the education system works for marginalised groups.”

She studied social care but soon felt, as a social care worker, she wouldn’t be able to tackle the “structural and systemic issues of racism and discrimination” blighting her community. During a placement with Pavee Point in 2017, where her role was one of analysing needs from a human rights perspective, she found her “niche”, she says.

A Masters in community and youth work at Maynooth led to her applying earlier this year for the post she now holds. Her work will increasingly bring her into schools, encouraging Traveller children – and their teachers – to see university as a viable option.

“Travellers are told from a very young age that they aren’t going to amount to anything, and not just by the settled community. It’s also within the community. Travellers have internalised that for decades; that we’re not going to be anything.

“I see my role in coming years to really increase Traveller numbers in education. It’s about being present and being representative. I can’t represent all Travellers, I am very aware of that, but I can be that voice to make sure the Travellers’ perspective is included and at the table.”

Fr David Vard
Fr David Vard

Fr David Vard
Catholic priest
Fr David Vard, aka the youngest priest in Ireland, is “excited” about the future of the Catholic church.

It’s some distance from where the 29 year old was when he made his confirmation about 15 years ago. “I just felt, ‘I am done’. When I was growing up it was just non-stop – the Ferns report, the Cloyne report, the Dublin report… It was just bad news to be in the church. And then I had a transformative experience in Lourdes when I was 16. I thought, ‘I’m not done. The church isn’t done. It’s real to me and to other people.’”

He studied for the priesthood in Maynooth and was ordained in his home parish, in Newbridge, Co Kildare, in June 2017. Now serving in Portlaoise he believes the closure of churches, and repeated postponement of weddings, baptisms and other sacraments during lockdowns have underlined how important these are to people. The enforced move to online worship, though, has opened up new possibilities, he adds.

“We don’t have to follow the model we always have. We can reinvent it a little. It’s a perfect time to get ourselves out there, use what we have learned during Covid – going online more, using social media more. They are where people are. We need to go out and say, ‘We’re back. We’re here. What can we do for you?’ We have good news, so let’s tell it.”

Darragh Adelaide

Darragh Adelaide
Anti-racism and local politics
Growing up in Clondalkin in Dublin, 23-year-old Darragh Adelaide had no interest in politics. “My father is from Nigeria and my mother is from here.

“As a teenager I didn’t feel there was any people from ethnic backgrounds involved in politics in Ireland. I didn’t relate to politics and I especially never felt young people were ever represented.”

The election of Gino Kenny as a TD in 2016 – the first Neilstown native to make it to the Dáil – changed that. Kenny, a member of People Before Profit, “represented something different”, says Adelaide.

Now active in United Against Racism campaign, the fluent Irish speaker is the local representative for People Before Profit in Clondalkin and will stand for the party in the next local elections in 2024. Among his most recent public outings were speaking at the launch of Derry United Against Racism, and appearing on BBC Irish-language discussion programme, An Focal Scoir, where he talked about the legacy of the Black Panthers.

“They were fighting not just for black people but for all other class people… disabled people. Young, working class people will have to inherit the failures of current politicians, especially to deal with the climate crisis. We need expanded public transport, not just taxes that will hurt working people the most.”

SPORTS

By Malachy Clerkin

Lee Gannon. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Lee Gannon. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Lee Gannon
GAA
The star of Dublin’s under-20 Leinster hurling triumph (the final was eventually played in June 2021), it seems certain that Lee Gannon is going to be predominantly a footballer from here on out. Clearly the best young dual star in the capital, 21-year-old Gannon has been a fringe member of Dessie Farrell’s football panel for about 18 months. He is powerfully built, technically sound and evidently unafraid of the big stage.

The DCU student ought to be in with a real chance of progress in 2022. With Dublin’s historic unbeaten streak finally at an end, there is ample scope for change and an appetite for new faces. Gannon operates anywhere in the middle third but has played mostly as an attacking wing-back at underage level. The Dublin defence looks certain to be rejigged as the year progresses; it could well be Gannon’s time to find a slot for himself.

Eve McMahon. Photograph: David Branigan
Eve McMahon. Photograph: David Branigan

Eve McMahon
Sailing
Before 2021, no youth sailor had ever earned a place on the senior Irish sailing team by dint of results earned in senior events. Records are there to be broken though and 19-year-old Laser Radial sailor Eve McMahon became the first to do so, after winning a race at the senior European championships in Bulgaria in October.

McMahon won a world youth title in radial in August and has been voted Irish youth sailor of the year for the past two years running (with a third looking likely in the new year). She pushed Annalise Murphy all the way for the chance to represent Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics but now that the 2016 silver medallist has moved on, McMahon is poised to step into her shoes. The Olympic cycle is shorter this time around – Paris is already just 2½ years away. Time to stake her claim.

Nathan Collins. Photograph: Matteo Ciambelli/Inpho
Nathan Collins. Photograph: Matteo Ciambelli/Inpho

Nathan Collins
Soccer
At a time when Stephen Kenny seems to be overloaded with central defenders, it’s entirely possible that the best of them is hiding in plain sight. Nathan Collins is still only 20 and has played just once for Ireland, coming on for the last quarter of an hour in the 4-0 hammering of Qatar back in October. But there’s every chance his ceiling is higher than some of those ahead of him in the queue.

Collins has already been the subject of a €14 million transfer from Stoke to Burnley and the early months of the season have seen him settle in well at his new club. He has deputised regularly for Ben Mee and James Tarkowski when one or other has been injured, to promising reviews each time. Ultra comfortable on the ball, well able to mix it in the physical stakes. Big year ahead.

Tom McKibbon. Photograph: Aurelien Meunier
Tom McKibbon. Photograph: Aurelien Meunier

Tom McKibbin
Golf
The comparisons with Rory McIlroy are going to follow Tom McKibbin around for a while. Partly, this is because they come from the same small club, Hollywood GC on the outskirts of Belfast. But there’s more to it than that.

McKibbin has followed McIlroy’s lead in turning professional without going through the American collegiate system. It means that he is out in the world already trying to make his way, even though he has only just turned 18. It is a route you only take if you are confident and in a hurry, and if you have the goods to pull it off.

The kid from Newtownards clearly has huge talent. He shot a stunning 62 in early qualifying for the Korn Ferry tour back in September before running out of steam and failing to get full playing rights in the US. He will spend 2022 playing on the European Challenge tour. No reason he can’t make a splash.

Beibhinn Parsons. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Beibhinn Parsons. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Beibhinn Parsons
Rugby
The one bright spot in a terrible year for the women’s game in Ireland, Beibhinn Parsons is everyone’s idea of what a good future can be. Blessed with searing pace and a sniper’s eye for a gap, her try against Wales was a score of the 2021 Six Nations. She led Italy a merry dance as well, beating a laughable number of tackles before sending Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe in for a brilliant score.

Even though she only turned 20 at the end of November, she is already a key player for both the Ireland 15-a-side team and the sevens. There is always the danger that she falls between the two stools because of what a dangerous weapon she is with ball in hand, so she will have to be managed correctly by those in charge. However they end up deploying her, the flying winger from Ballinasloe is unlikely to let anyone down.

ART & DESIGN

By Gemma Tipton

Orla Kelly. Photograph: Leon Farrell

Orla Kelly
Artist
Featured in the 2021 RDS Visual Art Awards Exhibition at the RHA, Orla Kelly grew up in Westmeath. “Mam has always been a huge inspiration,” says the NCAD graduate. “She was my art teacher in secondary school, and I was lucky to grow up in a creative family.” Working in textiles, Kelly’s tufted work (think huge, bright carpet-like pieces) draws you in, but look again and find they show uncomfortable images of sexual violence. Now working from a studio in Dublin’s Block T, Kelly is planning to focus on self-organised and artist-run projects for the coming year.

“With Covid, there was a lot of uncertainty and questioning, especially in relation to showing work, or changing work to fit what kind of platforms will be available,” she says. “The year really taught me that making work that I love and relate to is the most important thing, no matter who’s going to see it.” That said, audiences are important. “I love the dialogues and connections it makes,” says the artist whose 2022 plans include a fashion project with fellow NCAD graduate, designer Adam Farrell, and a series of images of people interacting with her work, with photographer Cian Redmond.

Rosie O’Reilly

Rosie O’Reilly
Artist
Working across art, craft and design, Rosie O’Reilly maintains a passion for stories of environmental and social justice in her projects. The year 2021 saw a year-long residency at the UCD Parity Studios, during which the artist spent time collaborating with the “blue humanities” – which range from oceanography to ecology, marine biology to maritime history – an experience she describes as “dreamy”. This year, she’ll be on residency with the Leitrim Sculpture Centre, looking to the Irish wetlands for lessons in adaptation and resilience, something we could all do with these days. “I’ll also be focusing on sentience in the more-than-human world, in a research project with UCD Computer Science,” says the artist who has a show coming up at Dublin’s LAB gallery in July.

Other plans from this fascinating artist include more from her collaborative audio project Headfoot, with former My Bloody Valentine drummer Colm O’Ciosoig, and Bartholomew Ryan. Learning the lessons of 2021, O’Reilly wants to make “regenerative work that goes beyond human exceptionalism”, and begin a rewilding project in Waterford, with the goal of making audio and visual work there. “The time is now: it’s time to slow down and grow,” says an artist who looks set to have a very busy year.

Julia Moustacchi

Julia Moustacchi
Arts curator
Based in Dublin since 2018, French-born Julia Moustacchi is an arts curator with a particular interest in how the public gets to see art – an approach that is rarer than perhaps it ought to be. As public engagement curator for Dublin City Council’s Sculpture Dublin programme, she has been looking after the reception of six new public sculptures for the city. “Public sculpture, by definition, is for the people – the events of the past year with the Black Lives Matter movement have focused this lens dramatically,” she says, adding that the lockdowns and social distancing of 2021 taught us new ways of opening accessibility and inclusion in the arts.

Planning to expand on these ideas in 2022, and Moustacchi has been working on Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), a model of how to communicate about art in a way that opens it up to new audiences and focuses on viewer experience – with no previous arty knowledge required.

“It’s the most accessible and democratic tool to experience visual art that I have found so far,” she says. Changing the way we think about seeing art is key to her future plans. “Creating an Irish-based platform for school and museum educators to be trained in VTS appears to me as a key component to educate the current and upcoming generation, and to help balance inequities in our society,” she concludes.

Amy Kerr

Amy Kerr
Textile artist
Shortlisted for a Design and Crafts Council of Ireland Future Makers prize, Amy Kerr graduated from Dublin’s NCAD, where her project immediately began to win awards. Drawing inspiration from bees, she created a range of sustainable materials that just might change the nature of things. Describing the textile industry as “one of the leading pollutants in the world”, Kerr wants her work to help to “change people’s attitude about the wasteful consumerist society we live in”.

Dying textiles with natural bacteria, she has been looking at how living organisms can be integrated into textiles, “to create living garments that photosynthesise, therefore helping with air pollution”. Alongside this, she has been exploring how bioluminescent bugs can make sustainable fabrics that glow. “My approach is to look back to nature and explore things unseen in order to come up with innovative and creative solutions to current problems.” Plans for 2022 include further study in Europe, to explore connections and collaborations between science and design. A very bright spark indeed.

Mark Buckeridge and Leah Corbett

Leah Corbett and Mark Buckeridge
Muine Bheag Arts centre
Artists Leah Corbett and Mark Buckeridge set up Muine Bheag Arts in Co Carlow, with the aim of showing that there’s an awful lot more to the arts in Ireland than what you get to see in the cities. Their first programme, Grass Roots, commissioned eight artists to make work and hold events throughout the town in 2021. A graduate of Cork’s Crawford, Corbett had spent time in Belfast as a co-director of catalyst arts, before working with the Royal Hibernian Academy’s Teen Directives programme, where workshops and activities are aimed at young people and the arts.

Buckeridge, meanwhile, graduated from the Crawford, before going on to Amsterdam’s Sandberg Institute for his post grad. Covid-permitting, he plans to take up a residency in Lithuania, and work towards a solo show there, and another at Derry’s CCA, where he plans to explore oral traditions and sean nós singing. Both artists will also continue to devote time to Muine Bheag Arts. “Having both grown up in the countryside, we were aware of the need for more cultural infrastructure in rural areas, and of the value of working outside the city,” says Buckeridge. “The generosity of the artists and local people has reaffirmed the importance of community to us,” adds Corbett.

*This article was amended on January 2nd, 2022





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