Ciara Kenny

The Irish Times forum by and for Irish citizens living overseas,

Spreading positive stories about Ireland from afar

Reading continuously negative news inspired Ciarán Lowney to start a new network providing the Irish abroad and at home with happy stories

Tue, Apr 23, 2013, 01:00


Ciarán Lowney

Having been away from Ireland for many years, I keep abreast on a daily basis of the happenings on Irish news, sport and current affairs. We are bombarded with how bad the economy is at home with news of job cuts, pay cuts, tax increases, levys and, of course, emigration. It all gets depressing sometimes to be honest.

Living in New Zealand I see emigration first hand, having worked on the Irish people Living in New Zealand network for the past three years. We are a volunteer ex-pat service which provides information for new Irish immigrants. The page has become a household name across the Irish community, and we have forged connections with Enterprise Ireland and the Irish consulate in Auckland. It was at a St Patricks day function that I saw a video that showed exports from Irish-owned companies had surpassed pre-GFC levels in 2012. This came as news to me.

I went looking for more positive stories and realised that there were many more. They are not easily available on the various news websites we scoop our news stories from. So I thought, why not make it easy for people to find these stories using my knowledge of social media?

At Easter I set up the Facebook page Positively Irish. The name encompasses what I want to achieve – providing people with uplifting stories about Ireland. I posted a few stories, links and videos, the first being the Enterprise Ireland video. I shared the page with a few people and the response was positive.

I was concerned the page would be seen as just for expats, talking about how good Ireland was from afar. Despite my daily contact with home, this could have been a fair point. To help me ensure the posts were relevant to those in Ireland, Karen, from Cork, became the second team member. By then I had developed a clear understanding of the purpose of the page:

1) Firstly, it must be positive. By being positive we are not for one minute saying the boom times are back. But rather than focus on the bad, let’s reflect on the good.

2) We are a non-political page. We have no links to any party and we will never be involved in political spin stories – good news has to have substance and we will leave the bailout to others to debate.

3) We will share uplifting and inspiring stories about people in the public and private eye.

So, with a few more posts, I shared it with various Facebook pages at home and abroad. Within days we had 400 members! People seemed to be craving positivity.

Four more admins joined the team, Aisling (Australia), Eoin (UK), John (USA) and Jenn (UK), each bringing different skillsets and perspectives but with a common goal. We are still looking for another person based in Ireland. In the near future we will be launching a website so people who don’t use Facebook can access the content too.

In the three weeks since we launched, we have amassed over 1,000 followers, half of them at home in Ireland and half abroad. There is also a 50/50 split between interest in positive news articles about the economy, and real-life stories about people doing inspirational things.

We will continue to push the positive aspects of Irish life, at home and abroad. We will build the website and encourage user generated content to allow likeminded people enjoy what is a slow but steady recovery. We won’t change everyone’s attitude, but we will offer an alternative to the daily dose of negativity.