The 60 Most Creative People In Ireland Right Now
There is stuff happening. Here are some people making it happen.
“You don’t feed people things to make them creative, you take things away from them.” That line from Keith Cullen, the head of Setanta Records, has been ringing in my ears since it appeared in an interview Tony Clayton-Lea did with him in the Irish Times in July 2012. Creativity is not just the product of opportunity, but also the product of constraints. Too many options can often paralyse people. Constraints create a framework you can work within.
Constraints can paralyse too though. How much easier would it be to create new things in new spaces if there weren’t the constraints of rents and rates nay-sayers and not enough time? How much more creative people would there be if the constraints of having to keep up the day job, yet still survive was removed? But right now, with all of the societal, geographical and economic constraints that colour Ireland, things are happening.
Creativity is about new and interesting ideas, making something happen, making something valuable, pushing the boundaries of the status quo. Creativity is about disrupting and erupting and coming up with ideas that fizz and spark. Creativity in cities especially is about adding these ideas to the pool of communities who can enjoy them. And it’s with those things in mind that I’ve compiled this list of the 60 Most Creative People In Ireland Right Now. It’s an entirely undemocratic list based mostly on my own (hopefully unbiased) opinion, although I did ask some people whose opinions I value to throw a few names my way over email in case I was missing some decent heads.
When I was making this list, I also began to realise that despite the diversity of names, professions and their approaches to creativity, most if not everyone on it have one thing in common – they are all nice people. Take from that what you will, but perhaps the lesson is: you can get places without being an ass hat. The other thing that many of these people have in common is that they don’t just do one thing, they do loads of stuff. Take from that what you will, but perhaps the lesson is: you don’t just need a piece a flint, you need something else to spark it off.
I’m not providing extensive bios for the people mentioned here, just descriptions of what they do and links to their stuff where possible, so you can go and investigate anything that grabs you’re attention. But because it’s just my list, I’m sure there are loads of people I’ve missed. So now it’s over to you. Who do you feel should be mentioned? Who is doing cool, creative stuff that I’ve overlooked? Throw them in the comments section, and hopefully through that process, we can be made more aware of creative projects, people and ideas. I’m sure there will be plenty of people I’ll be facepalming for forgetting to include, and I hope there will be more I never even heard of. Actually even now, I’m thinking of loads of people I could add to this post… but you have to draw a line somewhere. Maybe I can add another 60 in a week or two.
(PS: don’t give out to me about a lot of these being Dublin-focussed. That’s where I live, so that’s where I interact with most creative stuff. SOZ LEITRIM, etc. Also, DECLARATION OF MULTIPLE INTERESTS: I do know some of these people, but that’s life, innit?)
So, in no particular order or ranking apart from alphabetical:
This is just so interesting!
Aisling is one of the best stylists in the country, but her creativity expands beyond making people look awesome. She founded the Loft Market, mucked in at Circus and edits Thread magazine.
Aisling Rogerson and Luca D’Alfonso
The Fumbally has brought an energy to Dublin 8 that very few (any?) eateries have. Reinvigorating a space, creating a proper hang out spot, serving up great food and generally being quite cool.
And So I Watch You From Afar
I realise there aren’t many musicians on this list, but I also feel that most musicians follow a very linear path; learn about ther equipment, explore it, get like-minded people together, play shows, record music, repeat. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But for me, And So I Watch You From Afar have deep compulsions beyond that. They are brave because they commit to what they’re doing. Music is it. They are creative in how they manage to achieve this, with a relentless touring schedule that has calmed down slightly in recent years. And they push geographical boundaries, bringing their energy to far flung cities in Russia and China for the love of it all. A remarkable band.
Is there a more significan figure in Irish independent music than Angela? I don’t think so. Her work at FMC, establishing Breaking Tunes, running Hard Working Class Heroes, and bringing Irish music to the heart of SXSW, CMJ, CMW and Eurosonic has done a tremendous amount for our burgeoning music scene.
Angel Luis González Fernández
At PhotoIreland, they’re four festivals down the line with Angel at the healm, pushing engagement with photography in a way the country hasn’t seen before.
It’s probably not that big a surprise that Atkins ended up working on Wes Anderson’s new movie ‘The Great Budapest Hotel’, because her work expresses the same serious frivolity as his. Atkins makes things look beautiful, simple as.
The heart of Tieranniesaur, along with her husband Padraig O’Reilly, Annie is spearheading one of the most interesting bands to come out of Ireland in an age.
As the Festival Director of Body & Soul, Avril is a tour de force, making things happen and commanding a quality of detail and diversity that other festivals strive for yet have yet to reach. The hollistic aspect of B&S can attract cyncism, but it’s crucial to maintaining a vibe that makes it the most interesting festival of its kind in Ireland.
Apart from having the world’s greatest name, Billie is flying up the ranks behind the scenes of the Labour Party for good reason. Her creative approach to pushing the agenda of gender quotas as the Chair of the Dublin branch of the 50:50 Group, amongst other things, has led her to the position of Women and Equality Officer in the party.
Bodytonic has seen over a decade of expansion, heading up the move to the Twisted Pepper, taking over the Bernard Shaw, booking, promoting, releasing and staging quality music with an edge, not to mention enabling those who come to them with decent ideas.
Along with Conal Thomson, Brendan runs Feel Good Lost, a production house based in Cork that makes deadly visuals, music videos, short films and other cool design. They also release muisc, manage acts and promote gigs.
Business To Arts
If it wasn’t for Stuart McLaughlin, Rowena Neville and Andrew Hetherington, there would be plenty of creative projects grasping at straws. Business To Arts provides advice and hook ups between artistic endeavours and corporate entities. They also started FundIt, a crowdfunding initiative that has kickstarted countless albums, plays, apps, films, events and more.
Cathal Gaffney and Darragh O’Connell
The founders of Brown Bag Films.
Mulvaney has One Wild Life and she’s trying to do as much as possible with it, involved in The Trailblazery and several other projects, she brings a sense of zen to the chaotic.
A man with a plan. Smith’s work at Mabos does an amazing service to a community, not to mention his leadership at Kings of Concrete. An inspiring guy.
Just look at this beautiful stuff!
Diet Of Worms
Big things are happening for these guys.
Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe
The Company Directors of Element Pictures have overseen the production of some great Irish film and television; The Guard, Garage, The Wind That Shakes The Barley, Adam and Paul, and more. Along with Guiney producing two of our finest television series with Accomplice (Pure Mule and Bachelors Walk.) Element also functions a key independent film distributor and reinvigorated the Light House Cinema in Smithfield.
George is an architect who started The Fumbally Exchange. Bristling with energy and ideas.
A young man making beautiful music.
I don’t know where Jim gets his energy from. But his passion about music goes far beyond just being a great writer, and bleeds into establishing Banter and speaking at SXSW. He’s hard to keep up with, but his intellect and ideas are brilliant.
Very possibly Ireland’s most interesting artist.
The CEO of the Performance Corporation and director of the Big House Festival has art at the centre of everything. Her drive in creating new theatre experiences, as well as diversifying with different forms of creativity is hugely commendable, especially when working with the challenges of different spaces.
A photographer and fashion designer who makes awesome, great quality t-shirts, hats, pins and other things. You can check out some threads from his 2012 collection here, and there’s new stuff coming soon.
Opera, award-winning albums, challenging live performances and a lust for difference and perfection. Feeney pushes all of these boundaries and more.
With Pop Up Productions Kathy has a wide portfolio of creative collaborations, from co-founding The Trailblazery, creating the Wonderlust Stage at Body & Soul, being the Creative Producer at the Ireland:Iceland Project and more. Perhaps most importantly, she has a talent for connecting people throughout all of these invents, inspiring more collaborations still.
The MD of Blinder Films is running an exciting company that is giving Irish audiences something that they actually want: a contemporary slate of genre films that is varied and energetic. And on TV, she exec produces the hugely popular Irish Pictorial Weekly and The Savage Eye, showing a talent that isn’t limited to one medium.
Living Dinners pop up food deliciousness.
Anyone can have an online newsletter/event guide. Not everyone can turn that into a hub. Le Cool continues to morph, grow and create, providing brilliant and interesting events throughout Dublin.
Killer graphic designer also working through the medium of film and, she’s also in one of the most interesting bands around, Come On Live Long.
As the artistic director of ANU Productions, Louise Lowe has spearheaded some of the most impactful Irish theatre of recent years. The Boys Of Foley Street was a mindblowing audience experience and Laundry was earth-shattering. Lowe’s immersive approach is not just about space, but emotion. A thrilling theatre maker.
Mary, or Scary Mary as many people know her as, is a font of vigourous enthusiasm for throwing parties and connecting likeminded people. From word of mouth bashes to the Drop Everything festival, she approaches everything with infectious delight.
Al has excelled as a street artist in recent years, and is one of the main Irish people responsible for making the wider public see grafitti as art, and not as vandalism. His collaborations with Damien Dempsey, and recent moves towards installations show that he’s committed to pushing the boundaries of what he’s doing. And the positivity that eminates from his work is heartening. (His piece off Camden Street illustrates this post.)
Michael John Gorman
MJ is the founding director and CEO of Science Gallery, one of the most interesting spaces in the country. He’s also brought the Trinity gallery to an international audience. As a bonus, he collects academic institutes like Top Trumps; a student at Oxford, a lecturer at Stanford, a fellow of Harvard and MIT, and a professor at Trinity.
Ireland’s most interesting arts and craftster whose output never ceases to amaze and amuse me. Truly talented with a fantastic grasp of popular culture, and articulating himself in a way that I really don’t think anyone else is doing. Unique 2 tha max.
As the bassist with Delorentos, Conlon’s creative output is award-winning, but there’s more to him than a guitar, establishing the MGM with Shane Langan, and generally being full of ideas and positivity.
The Offset crew are a classic example of people with a vision who managed to see it through instead of just talk about it. Now a creative event of international standards, it attracts some of the most interesting names in design around the world, as well as pushing local flavours. One of those initiatives that you have to simply say: fair play.
McKenna’s spoken word is an intelligent, insecure, beautiful, hilarious, emotional garden hose of inspirations. With PETTYCASH himself and Niamh Beirne are leading the way with contemporary spoken word events, and his uncoming Grindr /A Love Story project is hugely promising.
A drag artist who leads and everyone else follows. Articulate, irreverent, outrageous and talented, Rory O’Neill holds a unique space in Irish culture.
Making things Happen for some time in the city, O’Brien’s latest endeavor is outdoor cinema, but he’s a lightening rod for community-based inclusive activities that feel at times both political and holistic. A real dude.
The godfather of Other Voices committed to progress and ideas far greater than people singing in a church. A legend.
A Labour councillor for South West Inner City in Dublin, Rebecca is the only elected representative to make the list. Her dogged campaigning for a real community park space at Chamber Street in Dublin 8, and allowing vacant spaces to be utilised by artists is creative local politics at its finest.
Katie Nolan and Rosie O’Reilly are an alarm bell in an increasingly apathetic world of fashion. Fighting for better quality, consumer awareness, and a focus on ethical threads rather than fast ones, their political and organisational spirit should be commended.
The kid from Drumcondra who is causing waves internationally with his intruiging hip-hop.
Roise led the Dublin Fringe Festival through tough times, always keeping an interesting perspective and developing the festival’s innovative origins. Hands on, smart, determined.
Rosie Lynch, Jo Anne Butler, Hollie Kearns and Tara Kennedy
Totally into the Commonage’s vibe.
The man, the beard, the clothes, the tattoos, the disco.
Eating on the street isn’t something that we do very well, but there’s a huge appetite (sorry) for it. Enter Sam with his Street Feast projects, bringing communities, local suppliers, producers and makers together.
Seomra Spraoi collective
In a small building in the north inner city, a collective of people continue to plough a DIY furrow, with an incredibly diverse number of people using the space for everything from political meet-ups to vegan dining to bike workshops. Good people.
Solpedeine Is My Boyfriend moved me in a way that a piece of documentary theatre hasn’t in ages. She is brilliant.
While the young director has become more well known recently thanks to his excellent videos for the band Kodaline, Russell also has serious advertising chops, making commercials in Austria, Israel, the Ukraine, France the UK, and of course Ireland. A real star.
Flynn’s biting and hilarious video responses to anti-choice groups and racism set her apart.
A one-woman powerhouse of creative and literary brilliance articulating herself through rap. Captivating.
Philly and Jenny’s project has gone from being the glitter-covered Garbage Pail Kid amongst the conservative Cabbage Patch of Irish theatre to a source of inspiration for a generation of theatre makers. They changed, and continue to change, not just theatre, but the city.
Una is the most interesting new Irish designer working right now.
These guys do cool stuff. Remember the general election posters? Now they’re about to transform a part of Dominic Street into a park.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? NO! It’s the director of the Dublin Theatre Festival. Willie is one smart dude. It takes skill to bring an anti-establishment bent to the establishment. A fair, interesting and inspiring guy for whom creativity is the beginning, middle and end.
A promising and rather adorable performance artist.