50 people to watch in 2019: Ireland’s hottest young talent

Our tips in fashion, food, sport, activism, art, film, entrepreneurism, tech, media and music

FILM: Actor Actor Hazel Doupe, film maker Lee Cronin and actor Lara McDonnell, pictured at the Project Art Centre, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Cathy Brady
Cathy Brady has a claim to be the best kept secret in Irish cinema. A proud daughter of Newry, the director first attracted attention with her brilliant short Small Change in 2011. Named as a "star of tomorrow" by Screen Daily, she has, as well as directing excellent short films, completed a master's at the National Film and Television School in England and worked on the TV series Can't Cope, Won't Cope. In 2019 we will finally get to see her first feature. Wildfire, starring Nika McGuigan and Brady's frequent collaborator Nora-Jane Noone, follows two sisters growing up on the Border. "I began this project five years ago and I didn't know Brexit was going to happen," she says. "We'll have the film finished by spring and Brexit will have just happened. The timing is really remarkable." The film has much to do with the "transgenerational trauma" that affects too many inheritors of violence in that area. "The trauma that the parents haven't been able to process is passed on to the next generation," she explains. Keep eyes peeled.

Aisling Franciosi
There are moments in a young actor's life when they find themselves at the centre of the whirlwind. That is about to happen to the busy Aisling Franciosi. Born in Dublin, raised in Ireland and Italy – her mellifluous name reveals exotically blended origins – Franciosi has already received breathless praise for her role in Jennifer Kent's gruelling Australian revenge drama, The Nightingale. Jessica Kiang of the Playlist called her "striking, luminous" on the picture's premiere at the Venice Film Festival. "It was challenging in terms of performance. It was very heavy going emotionally, but unbelievably rewarding," Franciosi says of the Tasmanian shoot. The Nightingale, which is Kent's follow-up to The Babadook, will be released later in the year. Before then, Franciosi, now based in New York, will attend the screening at the Sundance Film Festival and, in February, will follow in the footsteps of Domhnall Gleeson and Ruth Negga as a "Shooting Star" delegate at the Berlin International Film Festival. "That is so flattering and so overwhelming," she says.

Lee Cronin
The Sundance Film Festival has been good to the Irish. Such domestic smashes as Sing Street, Brooklyn and The Guard all had successful unveilings there, but it's a particular honour for a film-maker to screen his debut in the snows of Utah. Skerries man Lee Cronin will be doing just that when The Hole in the Ground, a horror featuring Seána Kerslake, unspools before the world's cinematic royalty. The film concerns a mother who wonders if alterations in her young son are connected to a spooky sinkhole in the woods. "I am really drawn to the horror of the domestic world," he says. "If you come from a place of trauma it can be terrifying how you see something of your abuser within your offspring. But it's still a horror movie. It's meant to entertain and captivate you." What does the Sundance news mean to him? "It's every debut film-maker's dream," he says. "I can play it down, but it's a super-exciting scenario."

Lara McDonnell
There were few more sought-after juvenile roles in recent years than the leads in Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Eoin Colfer's young-adult fantasy Artemis Fowl. After much searching, the part of Holly Short, the charismatic elf, landed with the gifted youngster, Lara McDonnell. "My mum got an agent saying there was a role," she says. "I immediately recognised the name of the book, because I loved them as a child." A series of auditions and a callback followed before Lara secured the role in one of the coming summer's biggest tent-pole releases. The Dubliner modestly explains that she went in with little experience, but she has an impressively busy CV for a 15-year-old. She played Cillian Murphy's daughter in The Delinquent Season and spent time as the lead in the West End musical Matilda. "That was just life changing," she says. "Doing that confirmed that this is what I wanted to do." She'll be a star by the end of the year.


Hazel Doupe
Back in September, Carmel Winters's Float like a Butterfly, a touching saga concerning a young Traveller who takes Muhammad Ali as her role model, played to great reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival. The praise for Hazel Doupe, a charismatic actor from north Co Dublin, was particularly vociferous. Yet all were surprised when the Cork director's second feature won top prize in the Discovery Programme. "We weren't expecting it to win!" Hazel says. "I wasn't even expecting there to be an award there to receive." The picture went on to take the audience prize at the Cork Film Festival. It will open here later in the year. Doupe, who had a handful of screen roles before being cast, sinks effortlessly into the film's mid-1960s ambience. "There was a really deep connection between me and Carmel," she says. "We just felt that it was right and it clicked. I'm so glad she had that feeling." – Donald Clarke
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Back: Hugh Weldon and Ahmed Mu’azzam. Middle: Naomh McElhatton and Rosanne Longmore. Front: Stephen Costello. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Hugh Weldon and Ahmad Mu'azzam
Cofounders of Evocco
Winning a prestigious award from the United Nations at the ripe old age of 25 is pretty impressive, but it is just the start for Hugh Weldon, who along with Ahmad Mu'azzam, leads Irish company Evocco. Weldon was last year named a "Young Champion of the Earth" by the UN for his work on Evocco, a smartphone app which calculates a user's ecologic footprint based on scanned shopping receipts. Over time, the app gives users all the sustainability tips and tricks they need to educate their inner eco-warrior and align their beliefs with what they buy. It's a smart idea and one that has already led to multiple prizes – with the company having recently picked up awards, including the Carbon Footprint Challenge and the WDCD Climate Action Challenge. The Evocco co-founders met while studying for a master's in mechanical engineering at Trinity College Dublin and are now busy making the transition from students to entrepreneurs. With plans to seek early-stage investment in 2019, Evocco's app is still at the pilot stage, but with more consumers concerned about their spending habits, it has the potential to do extremely well.

Simon Phelan
Founder and chief executive of Hometree
Having raised more than €7 million and been named on Forbes highly-regarded 'Forbes' 30 under 30' list of young disruptors, Simon Phelan can look back on 2018 as a good year. The London-based Dubliner only established online boiler installation company Hometree in 2016, but it has recorded phenomenal growth since then and gained some impressive backers. Glamorous it may not be, but the UK boiler market is huge – with 1.7 million units installed every year. When it comes to installations, consumers have typically had to choose between paying a premium to go with British Gas or opt for a local tradesman who may not be up to scratch. Hometree, however, is championing a "radically more transparent, convenient and trustworthy model" that Phelan says also undercuts British Gas by as much as 50 per cent. It may be all about boilers right now but Phelan has his eye on a bigger prize and is looking to branch out into other complementary services, including smart home and insurance.

Rosanne Longmore
Chief executive and cofounder of Coroflo
Getting a shout-out from none other than Richard Branson as a company to watch is no bad thing. But it is likely that Rosanne Longmore and her company Coroflo would be making waves around the world even without the well-known entrepreneur's stamp of approval. Coroflo is a Dublin-based medical technology company that has developed what it claims is the world's first accurate breastfeeding monitor and it has been winning plaudits left, right and centre since it was established last year. The company has developed a revolutionary nipple shield and app that helps mothers monitor the milk flow to their baby in real time. The silicon shield comes with a patented micro-flow sensor embedded, which provides accurate details of how much breast milk an infant has consumed. The device will be launched commercially in the Republic early in 2019 with Longmore and her colleagues lining up launches in a number of other European markets for later in the year.

Naomh McElhatton
Founder of She Said Club and Smart Global
One of Northern Ireland's most energetic entrepreneurs, Naomh McElhatton will already be known to many as the founder of the Dani awards, which celebrates the local digital and creative industries. That is just one string to her bow though, as McElhatton has also founded countless other initiatives, including House of Comms, a PR and digital communications company, which she sold in 2014, and the Digital Exchange networking group. More recently, McElhatton has emerged as the founder of She Said Club, an online community "for real women, real experiences and real stories". McElhatton envisages it as a platform for women to network, find genuine peer support, and share their life experiences. Her main daytime job though, is as founder and chief executive of Smart Global, which was established in June 2017 to help educate businesses across various sectors on how to become digitally savvy. Smart Global hosts a series of what have become 'must-attend' industry-specific events each year. It also provides marketing and training services for clients that have included PayPal and Ulster Bank.

Stephen Costello
Managing director and cofounder of Spectrum Wellness
It may have taken a while to catch on but corporate health and well-being programmes are pretty much de rigueur at companies these days. This is good news for Spectrum Wellness, a fast-growing Irish company that offers evidence-based health and wellness services to 175,000 employees across 1,000 companies. Led by Stephen Costello, the company, whose clients include Aer Lingus, Google, Microsoft, Bank of Ireland and Iarnród Éireann, is looking to boost its own financial well-being with additional contract wins this year. Having recently gone out to raise €4 million from investors to aid its expansion plans, Costello says Spectrum Wellness is aiming to boost turnover from €4 million to €7 million this year.In July, the company announced 100 new jobs as it readied itself to enter into the UK and other markets. Spectrum, whose services include everything from gym management to counselling, is, according to Costello, ultimately looking to become "the Airbnb of the wellness world". – Charlie Taylor
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Anna Cosgrave and Karen Twomey. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Repeal Project founder Anna Cosgrave created the apparel for the movement with her iconic REPEAL sweaters. Now, she is broadening the scope of her vision, alongside journalist Sasha Brady, film producer Karen Twomey, and PR and communications strategist Fiona Gwozdz. MotsBox, launching in summer 2019, is described by Cosgrave as "a media movement company that's going to be focusing on politics, periods and popular culture. The intention is to appropriately represent the interests of women and to broaden the outreach of politics to a new audience. We want to build a community based on content." That community will live online and off, with representation a key part. "Repeal was the beginning," Cosgrave says, "It showed that people are willing to go out and fight for what they believe in. But also there were lots of people who were left behind in the movement. I think it's a really challenging and exciting time for primarily young people. They want outlets to make change happen."

Direct Provision Activism
Last year ended with the best Irish drama of the year, Taken Down, putting Direct Provision at the centre of watercooler discussions. It's a new spotlight on an old issue that has struggled to gain traction at a political level. While there has been excellent activism on Direct Provision over the years – with the #EndDP campaigns and rallies, the rising profile of activist Ellie Kisyombe, along with initiatives such as Our Table – the perceived "lack of votes" in the issue has allowed mainstream political parties to ignore it. Now, moves are afoot at grassroots level to use 2019 as a key moment for awareness-raising, and putting the injustice of the Direct Provision system on the political agenda at a local and national level, while also combatting misinformation and racism around the plight of asylum seekers in Ireland. DP activism is multi-faceted and comes from many quarters, but the role of ordinary people in Ireland, who have shown themselves as key players in the water charges movement, marriage equality movement, Repeal movement and housing movement, will be key. So the 2019 Direct Provision activist to watch out for is: you.

Emma Blake’s consent mural in Dublin

Emma Blake
Emma Blake, aka ESTR, has been honing her craft on Dublin walls for years. With intricate stencil work, the use of bold colours, and a strong political lens, particularly when it comes to LGBTQ rights and feminism, her art is gaining traction. Her mural on the topic of consent, in reaction to underwear being held up at a rape trial in Cork last November, brought international attention to the artist, with the image being used across national and global media and widely spread online. During the Repeal campaign, Blake painted a large Trust Women mural, as well as a Banksy-Maser mash-up. She is also a member of the all-female street art crew Minaw. A frequent participant at graffiti jams, her work is rooted in Dublin iconography, as seen in her mini-murals of Ronnie Drew, Luke Kelly and Christy Dignam, but it's her political streak that sets her apart, particularly in an art-activist demographic where women are still underrepresented.

While Stormont is still stagnant, political activism around marriage equality and reproductive rights is vibrant in Northern Ireland. The Alliance4Choice #AbortionRightsNI is central to campaigning and lobbying for reproductive rights in the North. Danielle Roberts is an activist with A4C: "We're really still on the wave of Repeal and the changes that have happened in 2018. We were canvassing in support of Repeal, and there have been a lot of court cases. We'll be going into January with two judicial reviews, one beginning and one outcome. Diana Johnson's Bill at Westminster is potentially going to be back up at the end of January, the Women and Equalities Committee report will be coming out, and the Domestic Violence Bill as well. We also have a video launching on March 8th, 2019." Roberts says campaigners are receiving support from the Republic and Britain, along with their sister organisation, the Abortion Rights Campaign. "We're on a swell of possibility. It's bureaucratically exciting in that we're getting changes on paper, changes on processes, but it's not changing real lives yet."

Take Back the City
It's often the case that a tide of activism crashes on the shore. But in the wake of the Repeal movement, Irish people seemed more mobilised than ever. Nowhere was this more evident than the mobilisation created by Take Back the City, grasping the thorn of housing in Dublin and across the country. An umbrella movement of multiple grassroots organisations, Take Back the City occupied buildings, and mobilised thousands of people out on to the streets. With a rental market forcing people out of the capital and the country, growing homelessness figures, and a lack of social housing, Take Back the City's demands are: "All properties formerly occupied by TBTC be taken by compulsory purchase order and put to social use as universal public housing. All vacant land and property across the country be taken into public ownership and used for public housing and community use. Tenant security and fair rent: ban all evictions, reduce and cap rent at 20 per cent of the occupants' income or at €300 per room per month." – Una Mullally
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Aidan Harris Igiehon. Photograph: Tom HOnan

Aidan Harris Igiehon
There's every chance that within the next five years, Aidan Igiehon will become the most famous Irish sportsperson on the planet. The 18-year-old from Clondalkin is one of the hottest high-school prospects in US basketball and has committed to play for Louisville in college next year. All going to plan, he could be playing in the NBA, possibly by 2020 but definitely by 2021 – current projections have him being picked 12th in that year's NBA draft. This is extraordinary progress for a kid who only took up basketball in 2013 when he was playing soccer in Moyle Park in west Dublin and local basketball coach Mick White called him over and asked would he and his friend Joe like to make up the numbers for an under-13 trial game he was running. He was 5ft 6in and had never held a basketball before. Six years later, he stands at 6ft 10in and has the world at his feet. He has been a revelation at high-school level in New York since moving there in 2014. There has never been buzz like this around an Irish basketball player but if he keeps going the way he's going, Igiehon is going to be worth keeping an eye on for well into the next decade.

Will Addison
In a World Cup year, everything matters. Addison came from nowhere towards the back end of 2018 to put himself into the frame for a plane ticket to Japan this autumn, offering a versatility that makes him extremely useful to Joe Schmidt. As it stands, it seems likely that only two of Addison, Andrew Conway and Chris Farrell will go to the World Cup and the Ulster back would have been the clear outsider up until a couple of months ago. Addison's ability to slot in at full-back, centre and even outhalf makes him a big asset. But beyond that, the 26-year-old has impressed with his ability to get up to speed at short notice. He made his Ireland debut in November off the bench against Italy in Chicago before getting thrown in at short notice against Argentina when Robbie Henshaw got injured in the warm-up. Having played full-back against Italy, he suddenly had 20 minutes to get his head around playing centre against much tougher opposition. He came through with flying colours. Ulster are improving under Dan McFarland and Addison is a boat on a rising tide. He could be the bolter in Ireland's World Cup squad.

Sarah Rowe. Photograph: Inpho

Sarah Rowe
Gaelic football/Australian Rules
Rowe is currently in Melbourne getting ready for the women's Aussie Rules season with her new club Collingwood, having signed up with them over the winter. Following on from Cora Staunton's successful stint with Great Western Sydney last year, it will be fascinating to see if a second Irish player can make an impact in the AFLW. If Rowe makes a splash, it seems a reasonable prospect that more and more intercounty teams will start to lose players to Australia for the spring going forward. The AFLW season is short and snappy, taking up just nine weeks in February and March. So it's entirely feasible for Rowe – or whoever else – to spend the winter Down Under, playing away and getting paid for it, before returning for the championship at home. However she gets on, Rowe has a huge summer ahead for Mayo as well. The 2017 All-Ireland runners-up had a rotten season in 2018, hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons with huge internal strife. They need to get that sorted and with Rowe one of the stand-out remaining players, her form on her return will be crucial.

Leanne Kiernan
The 19-year-old West Ham attacker from Cavan is injured at the moment but ought to be back in action before the end of January. And not a minute too soon, as 2019 is looking like a major year in the life of a player who could turn out to be one of Ireland's most important in the years to come. Kiernan is in the early stages of her time with West Ham, who she joined last summer. The Hammers play in the women's FA Super League, so the standard is extremely high and it makes Kiernan one of the few Irish players exposed to that level of the game on a regular basis. Almost her first act in England was to score the West Ham goal of the month – picked from both sexes – in a Continental Cup game, a glorious curling effort that went in off the underside of the crossbar. A hamstring injury in November has kept her out for an extended few weeks but if she has a normal recovery, she will be gunning for a place back on the West Ham team.

Troy Parrott
We should probably be far more careful than we are tempted to be about anointing Troy Parrott as the next big thing. He's only 16, after all, and the newspaper archives are teeming with careers that never were after they were hyped as certainties. But the least we can say for the ex-Belvedere striker is that he has done everything you could have hoped for to make a career for himself. Towards the back end of 2018, Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino was bringing him up in interviews without prompting. He has been scoring regularly for the Tottenham under-18s, even though he is a couple of years underage at that level. He is a mainstay of the Ireland underage sides recently put under the control of the future Ireland manager Stephen Kenny and was the most potent player for the under-17 team that was cruelly – and controversially – knocked out of the under-17 European Championship on penalties last year. With a fair wind, Parrott could make his senior debut for Spurs at some point in 2019. If we're sitting here this time next year with that achieved, it will have been a massive 12 months. – Malachy Clerkin
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FOOD: Laura Caulwell, Niall Davidson, Lisa Cope, Jack Lenards and Eoin Cluskey. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Niall Davidson
In spring 2019, Dublin city centre will get yet another new restaurant. This one, as yet unnamed, will be a bit different, however. The chefs will work in a sunken kitchen in the diningroom, cooking over an open fire fuelled by native Irish wood and dried herbs. Niall Davidson, who grew up on a farm in Derry, has returned from London, where he opened the hip and happening Nuala restaurant (named after his sister), to open this 45-seater on South Frederick Street in Dublin 2. An April launch date is planned, and his number two will be Hugh Higgins, formerly head chef at Luna. The pair are already working on the menu, from a test kitchen they have hired, and are travelling the country meeting suppliers. "My aim here is to showcase the best of Irish ingredients, be it farmed, foraged in the wild or caught at sea, to be cooked over fire and served in a relaxed, fun, and maybe even thought-provoking environment," Davidson says.

Lisa Cope
Food media entrepreneur
Last January, those who follow Irish restaurant news on social media began to take notice of a newcomer – a sharp-as-a-tack voice, not afraid to say it like it is. The weekly round-up of restaurant reviews in the national newspapers from allthefood.ie soon gained a loyal following, and Lisa Cope was revealed as the writer behind it. Cope, who studied journalism and worked in TV in Dublin and London, set up the All The Food website while on maternity leave, and it is now a respected source of news, reviews and features on what is happening on the Dublin dining scene. She is also undertaking a masters in gastronomy at DIT, which she will complete in May of this year. "My main aim with All The Food is to keep producing quality content and be on the pulse of what's happening in Dublin, while ensuring it maintains its integrity. We want to build something that has real value," she says.

Jack Lenards
When Mews restaurant in Baltimore, West Cork, won a Michelin star for the first time last October, the kitchen team taking the credit included Jack Lenards, from Kilcoole, Co Wicklow. The celebrations continued in November, when Lenards was named Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year at a gala dinner in Dublin. To win, the young chef came through three rounds of judging, beginning in July. The judging panel included Irish-born Liam Tomlin, who is now one of South Africa's best known chefs and restaurateurs. As part of his prize, Lenards, who is currently working at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, will travel this month (January) to Capetown and to Singita Lebombo Lodge in Kruger National Park, to work with Tomlin. Lenards returned to Dublin to work at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud at the end of 2018, and this month he starts working at Geranium, a three Michelin star restaurant in Copenhagen.

Eoin Cluskey
Former carpenter turned chef and baker Eoin Cluskey and his business partner Stephen McKenna opened Bread41, an organic bakery and cafe, on Pearse Street in Dublin 2 in September. This month, they will begin milling their own flour in-house. "We are hoping to work with a number of Irish farmers to grow ancient organic grains once more which we can mill and use in our breads," he says. In February, they will begin selling pizzas, using a sourdough base fermented over 48 hours. Further plans for 2019 will see Cluskey launch a "Love Bread" education programme which he says "will teach children and adults in the local area about the nutritional values of real bread, its benefits and the importance of healthy eating". Bread Nation, the wholesale arm of the company, is also expanding, and has identified openings in the corporate market. "We have a number of large companies who as part of their social responsibility to their employees are asking us to deliver our sourdough breads on a daily basis. Today, for example, we delivered 50 loaves to LinkedIn."

Laura Caulwell
Laura Caulwell is a career-changer who switched from the field of design – where she was already a high achiever, having been a finalist in the James Dyson International Design Awards – to cooking. Having trained at Ballymaloe, she joined the Fumbally family, working in the Dublin 8 community cafe and culinary collective. In June 2017, she was on the team that opened Storyboard in Islandbridge, about which which Irish Times restaurant critic said: "This is the best cafe food I've eaten in Ireland." Last year, she returned to the fold at Fumbally, and in September she got involved in its project to take over the canteen at neighbouring Presentation Secondary School Warrenmount. She and her fellow chef Harry Colley cook there every day, introducing pupils to the joys of fresh food, cooked from scratch. "Our goal is to show that affordable healthy food in schools is possible, and to set up a document that helps other cafe and school partnerships to roll out a similar offering," she says. – Marie-Claire Digby
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Stephen Colfer, Gavin Drea, Heber Hanly and James McDonnell of Dreamgun

Dreamgun comprises Stephen Colfer, Gavin Drea, Heber Hanly and James McDonnell. Writers, animators and performers in their own right, the group got together after graduating in 2014, and realising that "we suddenly had a lot less to do with ourselves". Also featuring Ronan Carey, Vanya Eccles, Hannah Mamalis, Erin McGathy and Ed Salmon, Dreamgun's show, Film Reads, is an improvised scamper through iconic film scripts. "It's hard to pick one moment when it ramped up," says Colfer. "Everything went very slowly, but at one point we all noticed our friends were quoting our jokes back to us." The best fun is "the shared madness that comes from the 72 hours we immerse ourselves in each film, thinking more about GoldenEye than anyone ever should". Whatever the secret ingredient, it's caught a nerve. Readings are recorded and put out as podcasts on SoundCloud, and 2019 sees the team going to the Adelaide Fringe in February, before returning to Vicar Street on March 15th.

Stephen Doyle
Graduating from Cork's Crawford College in 2017, Stephen Doyle (24) already has an impressive list of awards to his name. Winning both the Ashurst Emerging Artist, and the Sunny Art Prize in 2018, he was also shortlisted for the Zurich Portrait Prize at the National Gallery. "The piece in the National Gallery holds a special significance for me," says Doyle. "As an emerging artist, to have work there is incredibly validating. More importantly, Dylan is ainm dom . . . is the first work on the walls of the gallery to openly discuss transgender identity. Considering the lack of representation of queer people in the visual arts, especially trans people, its a huge honour to give them a voice." Currently a resident at Cork's Backwater Studios, the awards give a platform, "which is everything to an artist staring out". With two solo shows already set for 2019, including in February in SO Fine Art Editions, Doyle then goes to London thanks to the Sunny Art Prize, which also includes a one-month residency in China. "It's fair to say I'll be kept busy."

ARTS: Sculptor Anishta Chooramun and artist Stephen Doyle. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Anishta Chooramun
Mauritian-born Anishta Chooramun (32) has lived in Ireland since 2006. Currently an MA student at IADT, curator Amanda Coogan chose her for the 2018 RDS Visual Art Awards. "When people asked me what I wanted to do, I would say I want to be a famous artist," Chooramun remembers. "I think of our society as a jigsaw puzzle. As we move through the environment, encounter different aspects of life, meet new individuals or a novel situation, we transform. These changes help us grow and become who we are, but we also lose a little of ourselves as individuals," says the artist. Chooramun first came to Ireland on holiday, and fell in love with the country. "I got my Irish citizenship in 2012, which I'm very proud of." As the 2019 winner of the RHA Graduate Studio Awards, she'll have the space and time to really explore her fascinating insights, making sculptures that can help to tell us all more about who we really are.

Kevin Corcoran
Homeware designer
Born in Denmark, and now based in Skibbereen, Kevin Corcoran (31) is on a mission to make us fall in love with concrete. Alongside his day job as a graphic designer, Corcoran is (ahem) cementing his role on the design stage with his awarding winning Concrete Forest. "Because of how widely concrete is used, people can forget what an incredible and versatile material it is," says Corcoran passionately. "What you can achieve – different textures, forms and finishes – is endless. With the right technique and processes, you can take something considered a coarse, ordinary material and transform it into something smooth, polished and refined." The results, including highly desirable pots and candle holders, can be bought online, and in outlets including Designist in Dublin, Tree Bark Store in Galway and the Glucksman Gallery shop in Cork. Now experimenting with new accents, Corcoran also works with interior designers, and recently made concrete table tops for one of his favourite restaurants, Café Paradiso in Cork.

Simone Collins
Simone Collins (23) hadn't yet graduated from the Lir when she won her first leading role as Dorothy in Wayne Jordan's Wizard of Oz at the Cork Opera House last year. "I always wanted to act, but it wasn't until my mid-teens that I knew I wanted to pursue it without a musical number in the mix," she says. Two episodes of Quantico, the ABC FBI series, followed, and now the Dublin actress is once again centre stage as Daisy Buchanan in the Gate's Great Gatsby. Collins had auditioned for Daisy when the Gate first staged it. "I was delighted to be seen before graduating college. When I was told it wasn't going to happen, I was pretty disappointed. I was overjoyed to get a second chance this Christmas. The Gate's imagining of Gatsby is different to any other theatrical experience: "You're not on stage as such, it's entirely immersive, so you can have an unscripted full-on conversation with an audience member you've never met before. Something flips in your brain." The Great Gatsby has been extended to February 16th. – Gemma Tipton
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Hope McCaulay
From Portstewart on the Antrim coast, McCauley (22) earned a first from Rochester's Creative Arts course last year, after which she showcased her graduate collection at Graduate Fashion Week in London in September. Her collection, with its vibrant colour, pattern (with something of the same exuberance as Richard Quinn) and overblown chunky knits called "A Surreal Rome" drew from her research on surrealist painters like Salvador Dali coupled with a visit to the Italian city, where her photographs were used as a basis for a mixed media collage. That was then digitally printed onto her widely acclaimed dresses, skirts, trousers and jackets. Her own "out of mind" surreal experience at the age of 12, when she was given laughing gas at the dentist, contributed to the hallucinatory world of her large expressive paintings and distorted collaged photographs. She is now making her spring/summer collection in "more wearable" ways, which she will show at Pure in London in February. In the meantime, she has also received her first commission – from a male fashion lecturer in London – and her collection goes on sale on her website hopemaccaulay.com this month.

Andrew Bell
Dundalk man Bell (27), a graduate of NCAD and recipient of the Kildare Village scholarship to the RCA, will graduate this June with an an MA in Womenswear from the Royal College of Art in London. He has ambitious plans involving future systems of manufacturing and the production of clothing. Bell interned with J W Anderson and Antipodium in London but after college took a job in Dunnes Stores to repay student loans. He has been developing pioneering techniques borrowed from other sectors like ultrasonic perforation inspired by bin bags, welding technology used in seam-free underwear and packaging adapted for luxury tailoring. He is also developing his own custom-made fabrics, like one in which herringbone tweed is printed onto fabric. "I am looking at the future but thinking about the present and how fashion has come down to digital consumption. I want to create something beautiful that will last and a new version of tailoring – tailoring that is not sewn." His prototype eyewear with custom-made Perspex arms takes a similar innovative approach.

Oisín Murphy

Oisín Murphy
The young Offaly hurler, who plays on the Birr senior team, made news in August when he modelled in a fashion shoot for French Vogue with the model, activist and Vogue cover girl Adwoa Aboah, shot in Antrim by Alasdair McLellan. Posing with her in full hurling kit for a feature described as "a 90s tinged tale of romance", he was also featured leaning on horses wearing an Aran sweater. Spotted originally by Not Another Agency, he was taken up in London by IMG, following in the footsteps of his brother Ronan. Since then Murphy (19) has worked on shoots for Asos and a lookbook for All Saints. An apprentice steel fabricator in Tullamore, he now has to juggle phase two of his training with modelling. "I didn't grow up thinking I was going to be a model – I was just one of the lads – but the opportunities are good and the money is good and I like meeting new people." He reckons he has got more "fashion friendly" since he started modelling "and I appreciate it more. Before that I would wear my brother's hand-me-downs. Now I buy my own."

Freya Oatway
Dubliner Oatway's ambition to be a milliner started at the age of 16 during transition year, when she bombarded Philip Treacy with daily letters begging to be taken on as an intern. It paid off and the 33-year-old spent two summers in his studio, learning the trade and meeting fashion legends like Isabella Blow. Her craftsmanship shows in her hats, which are bold, modern and elegant – straw boaters, fedoras, homburgs and little pillboxes, colourful beanies and hairpieces. For two brides wearing trouser suits, she made stylish white boaters with black veiling while some hats are colourful, high-crowned versions that are a mix of fedora and homburg. A graduate of the Grafton Academy, Oatway trained in London with Giles Deacon, Roland Mouret and Mulberry, later working for four years building a London fashion brand, before returning home.FAO Millinery was set up a year ago in March 2017 and a big break was when actor Aoibhín Garrihy wore one of her white boaters to the Galway Races. She makes to measure but also produces headpieces and woolly caps that can be currently found in Bloss, Dundrum. "When I design a collection, I think of a strong woman and her whole outfit before I start," she says.

Joanne Browne
Carlow-based Joanne Browne launched her natural solid fragrance brand in 2016. With a background in reflexology and holistic therapy, Browne first translated her interest in essential oils in 2013, making organic beeswax solid perfumes out of her kitchen, which can be worn by those who are often allergic to spray fragrances, which have high preservative and alcohol contents. Since its start, the brand has grown exponentially and made impressive strides into the natural skincare market with its cleanser and serum releases. Recognisable by their chic sustainable bamboo packaging, Jo Browne products have become increasingly present in Irish media coverage, though all of the fragrances are still handmade by Browne herself. The brand is currently stocked in larger Irish retailers, among them the Kilkenny Shop, Meadows & Byrne, and Avoca. In 2018, Browne opened an office in Singapore, with a view to bringing Jo Browne products to Asian markets. – Deirdre McQuillan and Laura Kennedy
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Maija Sofia
A real timeless quality is rare in so much of modern music, but the delicate timbre of Maija Sofia's music is impossible to ascribe to a particular moment. She doesn't occupy an easily identifiable space – there are few genres which would accurately pinpoint her sound – and the ease with which she weaves grand tales of mythos into short and delicate folk tunes suggests a true finesse. Her subject matter is seldom trivial – abuse, mythological stories, feminism and loss are considered with a confident serenity. The pinnacle of her work so far came at the beginning of the year in the form of the dreamy Phil Spector-esque Flowers, easily one of the best new releases of 2018, either at home or abroad. Now embracing a fuller sound, Sofia's work has strengthened with time and experimentation while never losing the ethereal quality which makes it so effective. Fans of Sofia wait with bated breath for the release of her first full-length LP in 2019.

If you're unfamiliar with the sound of 28-year-old Daithí Ó Drónaí, it's time to get on the bandwagon. Writing and producing as Daithí, he has gigged consistently in 2018 with no end in sight. As far as modern electronic music goes in this country, Daithí is the one to beat. A self-confessed Irish culture obsessive, his music incorporates boisterous electronic beats with the strange bedfellow of the Irish fiddle. This year, Daithí's sound has become somewhat more introspective. His exploration of personal loss on Take The Wheel (featuring Paul Noonan of Bell X1) was a stunning moment in the development of his unique creative voice. Released alongside this was In My Darkest Moments, a compelling work explorating male isolation and loneliness, brought to visual life by Irish director Lochlainn McKenna in its accompanying music video. 2018 has been a real turning point for Daithí, pointing to a promising reception for his first LP in almost five years in 2019.

MUSIC: The Pillow Queens write songs 'with charming familiarity'.

Pillow Queens
From the success of the Repeal movement to the abolition of the Irish blasphemy law, the country has been politically upended by a new wave of Irish feminism. A true marker of Irish girls anew is the music video for Pillow Queens' Gay Girls released earlier this year. Communion dress-clad girls are shot with scraped knees, gambling with more money than they know what to do with and cartwheeling through Dublin estate greenery picking up dirt, grass and blood stains on the way. If ever there was a band with a buzz, it's Pillow Queens. Their DIY, garage-rock-inspired sound is an exhilarating force of positivity, seemingly embracing all manner of alternative aesthetics while maintaining a distinctively Irish sensibility. Colloquial witticisms are sung with a wink in Irish accents, resulting in songs with such charming familiarity that it's impossible not to become hooked instantly.

Electronic music is becoming synonymous with modern music-making in Ireland, with one of the freshest voices emerging in the form of Sean Arthur, AKA Kobina. Boasting a wealth of collaborations and production credits (including Daithí, Bodies, Blooms and others), as well as solo collections of experimental electronic sounds, Kobina is primed for a truly promising career. Incorporating rich textures with ambient tones, he constructs dramatic soundscapes which manoeuvre compelling aural narratives. There is a real affection for collaboration, while also maintaining a style that is truly his own. Whether he takes influence from R&B beats, electronic subgenres or dreamy textures, the narrative of the work is always foregrounded. 2019 looks bright for Kobina, with a new EP featuring vocal interpretations of a series of poems written by the artist, as well a collaborative project with Dublin producer Moving Still in February.

Ailbhe Reddy
With each new release, songwriter Ailbhe Reddy tweaks and adds to her sound. Tangible additions come in the form of fuller instrumentation, while a quiet yet distinct confidence grows over time. Reddy first caught the eye of critics in 2015 with the release of her debut EP Dwell, a dreamy beginning to a career which culminated in more risk-taking the following year. Hollowed out Sea followed, and highlighted her flair for melodic hooks and beautiful depictions of personal experiences. There is no shortage of vocal ability here either, and the true artistry of Reddy's form is in her ability to trust when to hold back, and when to let go. Reddy's position in the Irish folk scene is stronger than ever, and with her debut album due to be released in 2019, she is certainly one to get on board with soon. – Andrea Cleary
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Niall Dennehy, Fiona Edwards Murphy, Theo Goyvaerts and Richie Power. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Richie Power
Showtime Analytics
Everything these days is about data. But with so many companies trying to make their mark in analytics, Richie Power, Joe Spurling and Paul Lynch decided to take a different tack. Showtime Analytics is aimed at the global cinema industry, providing cinema owners and film distributors with a way to gather, understand and best use operational data in real time. Next year looks set to be an exciting one for the company. Following a fundraise of €2 million in October, the company, led by Power, is planning to expand and further develop its platform. Among its backers is ecommerce giant Alibaba, which invested for a second time through its subsidiary Alibaba Pictures. Also on the cards is an expanded team for the Blackrock-based firm as it looks to increase its business in 2019. Power is confident that the importance of analytics in the film industry is going to continue to increase – experience says he may well be right.

Niall Dennehy and Joe Thompson
It was lost charity money that led Niall Dennehy and Joe Thompson to set up AidTech. The company ticks a couple of boxes: not only is it focused on tech for good, it uses the technology of the moment – blockchain – to do it. According to Dennehy, about 30 per cent of international aid goes missing each year; the duo wanted to bring that to an end and let donors verify their money had gone where it was intended. And so AidTech was born, bringing a secure way to deliver aid to people around the world. It has already partnered with the Irish Red Cross to deliver aid to Syrian refugees using QR codes that store digital identity details on phones or plastic ID cards. The platform also allows for the creation of a secure identity for an aid recipient that can be stored on a blockchain ledger – making it almost impossible to alter or erase. As the understanding of blockchain technology grows, so too do the applications. AidTech has already scooped the overall prize at the 2018 Irish Times Innovation Awards. According to Dennehy, the plans for the coming months include rolling the technology out to help people participate in the digital economy, gaining access to micropayment services, banks and so on.

Dr Fiona Edwards Murphy
Chief executive, ApisProtect
Bees are vital to our ecosystem, so keeping a close eye on them – and the potential risks to colonies – is important. Technology developed in Ireland could play an important role. Cork-based ApisProtect, founded by Dr Fiona Edwards Murphy, uses the internet to monitor the health of honey bee colonies, helping commercial beekeepers more effectively manage them. The system can help beekeepers pick up on diseases, pests and other issues in hives before they become a serious problem. Things are really taking off for the firm. It raised €1.5 million in funding late in 2018 to help fund its international expansion, and is already planning its first US office in California. Also on the agenda for the near future is an office in South Africa and the UK, and an increase in its Irish-based team as the company brings the bee-monitoring system to more climates. As chief executive, Murphy is taking a leading role in the protection of hive health, and the UCC graduate's work has been internationally recognised by academic publications, Google and the Irish Research Council. The company's technology is now being used in hives across the world, monitoring the health of more than 6 million honeybees and, with more to come, it's worth keeping a close eye on this work.

Prof Maire O'Neill
Queen's University Belfast
You may not have heard of Prof Maire O'Neill yet, but keep a close eye on cybersecurity and you likely will. Based in Queen's University, the Donegal native is heading up the new €5.5 million research unit at the university's Centre for Secure Information Technologies. As we turn even the simplest of devices into internet connected ones, the risk to our cybersecurity grows. That makes O'Neill's role even more important; part of her job is to beef up hardware security and reduce vulnerability to online threats. You might think it won't affect you, but everything from connected toys to wifi plugs could be a potential risk. O'Neill certainly has previous form for hard work. Not content with being the youngest engineering professor ever at Queen's – she was appointed to the role at 32 – she was also the youngest fellow elected to the Irish Academy of Engineering and she previously won the "British" Female Inventor of the Year award for work on high-speed data security. Her role as head of the research institute should be equally impressive.

Theo Goyvaerts
Chief executive, Aeonspark Events
For Theo Goyvaerts, chief executive of Aeonspark Events, it all started out with an interest in games. That quickly morphed into a career, when he set up the G Series esports events with Bryan McNamara. "The very first event we did was in the Alex hotel, with 10 PCs and 140 people," he said. "The second event three months later had over 1,000 people attending and three different tournaments." G Series wound up last year; now Goyvaerts is chief executive of Aeonspark Events, a company he set up with co-founders Graeme Moore and Daire Hardesty. The gaming events firm is hoping to establish Ireland as a games hub and help grow the esports scene here. It has already run a couple of events as part of its roadmap towards that goal. In 2019, things are set to get more interesting. The initial events – Dublin Games Summit and Dublin Games Festival – will be amalgamated to set up Dublin Games Week, and hopefully advance that dream a little more. – Ciara O'Brien
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Emma Dabiri

Emma Dabiri
Author, broadcaster
Author, presenter, teaching fellow in the Africa department at SOAS University of London, visual sociology PhD researcher at Goldsmiths, and broadcaster, Emma Dabiri holds a range of expertise encompassing a vast crossover between popular culture, art, history and much more. Her upcoming book, Don't Touch My Hair, is published by Penguin on May 4th. She also presents BBC4's Britain's Lost Masterpieces. "I teach African Studies, and there is so much subjugated African history and knowledge that is not only fascinating but also provides a lot of alternative solutions to contemporary issues that we have in the world," she says. "I love that the book has given me an opportunity to introduce some of those ideas and concepts to a wide audience of people. I'm looking forward to hearing how people respond and engage, and to those ideas being out there in a mainstream and acceptable form." In 2019, Dabiri will also finish her PhD, titled Mixed Race, A Ghost Story.

Kate Dolan
Director and writer
Kate Dolan is a rising director and writer, a fan of horror, and a skilful artist making playful, slick work. "2018 was a really good year. Before, I was so used to doing everything DIY, struggling, making everything myself." Dolan's 2016 short film Little Doll caught the eye of Screen Ireland / Fís Éireann, which led to funding for another short, Catcalls, which took off at festivals. She was selected for Screen Ireland's POV round, enabling women directors and writers to make their first feature film. Dolan has made excellent music videos for the band Bitch Falcon, and towards the end of 2018, her video for Pillow Queens' Gay Girls received acclaim online. "There's no point in making something unless you're challenging people's perceptions and exploring social issues," Dolan says, "You see so many films and you think 'what are they trying to say?'" A US colleague mentioned the phrase "hiding the vitamins in the ice-cream" to Dolan recently, something that chimed with her: "make fun pieces, but that are saying something as well." She also has another project – Silent Caller – in development with Fastnet Films.

Dublin Digital Radio: Brian McNamara, Aoife Davis, Aaron Dolan, Cormac Walsh, Sean Finnan and Cathy Flynn. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Dublin Digital Radio
Dublin Digital Radio is pursuing a new era of volunteer-led, independent community radio that leans in to left-of-centre programming. Having showcased a stable of interesting and interested musicians and DJs including Cáit, Dowry, Wastefellow, r.kitt and Jill Woodnut's Staxx Lyrical, DDR's scope and scale has grown since its beginnings. "At the start we felt that there was a lot of areas of the music industry that weren't be represented on national radio and media," co-founder Brian McNamara says. "We focus on a lot more than just music now, but it's all about giving a voice to people who feel like they don't have a voice in other areas." This year, 2019, will see them move to a new space, and seek to build on community connections in Dublin, Ireland, and in the online radio community across Europe. The station throws up unexpected and avant-garde sounds and an eclectic, freewheeling sentiment. At a time when many radio stations feel like they're stuck in the past, DDR is pushing things forward.

Tara Stewart
Tara Stewart is a DJ, 2fm's entertainment news reporter, and increasingly represents a cohort of young women in Ireland who are eschewing the filtered, pristine trends on Instagram – a platform she characterises as a "visual CV" – for a more fun-loving approach. It's that attitude (she says her motto is "f**k it") that has seen her presence grow in Ireland, DJing brand events and festivals. After taking her first Christmas off in three years, her goal in 2019 is to look towards London while remaining Dublin-based, and incorporating more fashion work into her life. In 2018, Stewart worked with brands including Tommy Hilfiger and Pretty Little Thing, but avoids the dreaded 'influencer' trap of chasing a pay cheque. "I'm lucky to be in a position where I can be selective with what I do. I'm really happy with the way things are going, but I don't like staying on one level. I'm planning to step up a level."

Goblin is a new Irish skate culture publication, which launched towards the end of 2018 with Philip Halton at its helm, "I'm a skateboarder who's a builder," he says. "I always loved writing, I read quite a lot. I guess I'm the editor." With a queue forming outside its debut issue launch party, the enthusiasm for Goblin reflects a growing skate scene in Ireland bolstered by the skate shop High Rollers, young skateboarders emerging, and a welcome influx of Brazilian skateboarders into the capital. "The idea was very small to begin with, and snowballed," Halton says. A new issue is planned for 2019. Despite the decline of print, hard-copy magazines are essential to skateboard culture, particularly when it comes to sponsors and brands. "I didn't want it to just be for skating," Halton says of the publication, "Skateboarding revolves around its surroundings . . . I wanted to keep it as social commentary as well. Skating occupies a space between an art form, sport, a social thing – it taps into a lot of areas." – Una Mullally
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