‘Finding my first real grown-up job would be my next goal’

One woman finds that being in her 20s gives her time to think things through

Sam Keely: at her home in Celbridge, Co Kildare. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimon

Sam Keely: at her home in Celbridge, Co Kildare. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimon


For Sam Keely, working in her 20s has been about discovery and experience. At 20 she opened her own gallery on Inis Mór. Next was a degree in art history, followed by roles at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Brown Thomas and Tate Britain.

“It’s definitely about dipping in and out of things but taking every opportunity,” she says. “In your 20s you have a little bit more time to experiment with things.”

On returning to Ireland she underestimated the recession. “I guess I was a little naive when I came home. I thought it wouldn’t be as bad as it was.”

Taking a volunteer job at a city centre gallery, she then signed up to a master’s in arts management. Completing her thesis now, she’s on work placement helping to organise “cultural carnival”, the Big House Festival taking place in Kildare in August. It’s a job she loves.

Her five-year plan? “Kids would be something I definitely want, but I think you have to wait until you are bit steadier on your feet. Finding paid employment and my first real grown-up job would be my next goal.

“I’m lucky my partner has been so supportive of my career and my choice to go back to full-time education and take a cut on the small amount of money I was making.”

She says if children happen she’d continue to work. “My mother worked full-time. That was the norm for me, but she was always there when it mattered.

“But I think I’d like to work less than my mum did, and I think if that had been possible for her she would have done that. It would be nice to do three-four days a week and try to get that work-life balance.”


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