St Brigid's Day at the Embassy 2019
On Friday 1st February we marked St Brigid’s Day at the Embassy with an evening of celebration of the enormous talent & creativity of Irish women.
We were joined by over 30 trailblazing Irish women who are making their mark in diverse fields such as music, comedy, poetry, literature, theatre, business and entrepreneurship, and politics. These special guests participated in a series of panel discussions and interviews, and we were delighted to also have music from Daire Halpin, Loah, and Tara O’Grady. The evening was made even more special thanks to everyone who joined us for the celebration.
Ambassador O’Neill said:
“It was wonderful to welcome so many brilliant women to the Embassy for our 2019 St. Brigid’s Day celebration on 1st Feb. The musicians, actors, writers, poets, journalists, entrepreneurs and all who joined together to celebrate the talent and creativity of women made this an unforgettable occasion.”
You can look back at the highlights of St Brigid’s Day at the Embassy below.
We were also delighted to be joined by Doireann Ni Ghríofa for a special perfomance of her film-poem ‘The Left Unsaid’, which you can watch below.
Selina Cartmell is the Director of the Gate Theatre, where her inaugural programme began in July 2017. At the Gate Theatre, Selina has directed The Red Shoes and Assassins. As a freelance artist she directed a diverse range of work, from Greek tragedy and Shakespeare to international and contemporary Irish drama, in theatres including the Abbey Theatre, the Gate Theatre, the Lyric Theatre in Belfast, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and Theatre for a New Audience in New York.
Selina’s productions have been nominated for 35 theatre awards, winning 10, including three for Best Director. Before becoming Director at the Gate, she directed three award-winning productions for the theatre: Catastrophe, Festen, and Sweeney Todd. In 2004, Selina established the Dublin-based Siren Productions, a multi-award winning company conceived to modernise the classics and create relevant and dynamic new work, and integrate theatre, dance, visual arts, architecture, film, and music. She made her film debut in 2017 with The Date, a Short Shot Film Award funded by RTÉ and Filmbase, which was awarded Best First Short Drama at the Galway Film Fleadh in July 2017.
Jane Casey is the author of the award-winning bestselling Maeve Kerrigan series about a London-Irish Metropolitan Police detective. Her books have won major awards, including Irish Crime Novel of the Year and the Mary Higgins Clark Award in the USA, and have been translated into 12 languages.
Born and brought up in Dublin, Jane studied English at Oxford University and now lives in London with her criminal barrister husband and two children. Her next book is Cruel Acts, the eighth novel featuring Maeve Kerrigan. It will be published in April 2019 by HarperCollins.
Jane has extensive experience of appearing on and moderating author panels at major book festivals such as Crimefest in Bristol, UK, and the new Murder One festival in Dublin in November 2018.
Anne Chambers is the author of nine biographies, including the best-selling Grace O’Malley – The Biography of Ireland’s Pirate Queen 1530–1603. Anne has also written a historical novel, a collection of short stories, and several television and film screenplays. Her books have been the subject of television and radio documentaries for Discovery, the Learning Channel, Travel Channel, ABC Australia, BBC, BBC World Service, RTÉ, and Lyric FM, and have been translated and published in many languages. Anne has been interviewed worldwide regarding her work, and most recently appeared on the BBC’s Songs of Praise.
Anne was short-listed for the Irish Book Awards in 1987 for Eleanor Countess of Desmond and for TK Whitaker: Portrait of a Patriot in 2014, and for short stories at the 2004 Hennessey Literary Awards. She wrote the screenplay for the short film Coming Home, a drama about breast cancer awareness that was broadcast by RTÉ in 2012.
Anne’s drama Matriarchs was staged at the Westport Town Theatre in June 2018. She is currently working on a script for a television drama biopic about the life and times of Grace O’Malley.
Anne Clarke founded Landmark Productions, one of Ireland’s leading theatre production companies, in 2003. Since then, the company has produced 31 plays—including seven Irish premieres and 17 world premieres—in Ireland and its productions have been staged overseas at the Barbican, National Theatre, and Royal Opera House in London; at the Edinburgh International Festival; and at St. Ann’s Warehouse and at Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York.
Anne has a long association with a number of Irish writers, including Enda Walsh, Mark O’Rowe, and Paul Howard, the creator of Ross O’Carroll-Kelly. Recent productions include Enda Walsh’s Ballyturk and Arlington, Louise O’Neill’s Asking for It, Mark O’Rowe’s The Approach, and the Donnacha Dennehy/Enda Walsh operas The Last Hotel and The Second Violinist.
Anne is a board member of Cork Midsummer Festival and the Lir Academy. She received the Special Tribute Award in the 2015 Irish Times Theatre Awards in recognition of her work as a producer of world-class theatre in the independent sector in Ireland.
Already an experienced businesswoman before branching out on her own, Ciara Donlon is a long-time marketing professional. She has a BSc in Management and Marketing and more than 20 years' experience in large corporations, including RBS, Irish Life & Permanent, and Vodafone.
In 2010, Ciara established a lingerie retail business in Dublin. Many of her customers were women undergoing treatment for breast cancer, who were looking for a comfortable and feminine brassiere to wear post-surgery. The plight of these women was something very close to Ciara's heart, as her grandmother had undergone a double mastectomy as a result of breast cancer. It was Ciara's desire to do something to help these women through their recovery—thus emerged the creation of Theya Healthcare.
Ciara secured significant private investment and became an Enterprise Ireland high-potential start-up client. Theya Healthcare has been trading since 2015 and now sells in five countries, mainly in the medical market. The company was granted an EU patent for its unique bamboo material mix in 2018.
Ciara has won and been shortlisted for many high-profile awards; in 2017 alone, she won Laureate for Europe in the Cartier Women's Initiative awards and was shortlisted for both the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year (‘Emerging’ category) and the Matheson WMB Female Entrepreneur of the Year. Ciara has been earmarked by Silicon Republic as ‘One to Watch’ in 2019, and has been shortlisted for Business Woman of the Year at the Irish Women’s Awards.
Olwen Fouéré is an actor, director and creative artist who works internationally in English and French in theatre film and the visual arts.
Olwen’s productions include the internationally acclaimed Riverrun—her own adaptation and performance of the voice of the river in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake—and her performances of Lessness by Samuel Beckett.
Recent theses appearances include at the Royal National Theatre London in Yael Farber’s Salomé and at St Ann’s Warehouse in New York in Enda Walsh’s Ballyturk. Recent film includes Mandy by Panos Cosmatos, Beast by Michael Pearce, The Survivalist by Stephen Fingleton, and The Crimes of Grindlewald for Warner Bros.
She has received numerous awards, including the Herald Archangel Award of the Edinburgh Festivals in 2014 and the Irish Times Special Tribute Award 2013 for her outstanding contribution to Irish Theatre, as well as an Honorary Doctorate (Doctor of Philosophy–Honoris Causa) from Dublin City University for her contribution to the arts and culture in Ireland.
Irish actress Denise Gough made headlines in 2016 starring in Duncan MacMillan’s award-winning play, People, Places & Things, which earned her an Olivier Award and a Critics Circle Theatre Award for Best Actress. Previously, her performance in the Lyric Hammersmith’s production of Desire Under the Elms saw her win the ‘Most Promising Newcomer’ at the Critics Circle Theatre Awards. She has since acted on stage in The Plough and the Stars at the Gate in Dublin, Everything is Illuminated at Hampstead, and As You Like It at the Wyndham Theatre, among many other plays. In 2018 Denise returned to the National Theatre for the new production of Tony Kushner’s multi-award winning two-part play Angels in America, where she won her second Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Denise has starred in multiple other projects, including on television and screen. 2017 saw Denise as the title lead in BBC Two thriller, Paula, created byplaywright and filmmaker Conor McPherson in his first original television series. Denise will next be seen in the films Colette alongside Keira Knightley and Dominic West, and in The Kid Who Would Be King with Patrick Stewart and Rebecca Ferguson. Denise is also set to star in the upcoming Untitled Game of Thrones Prequel.
Outside of her theatrical career, Denise has been an enthusiastic supporter of The Equal Representation for Actresses, a collective of actresses that want to see women represented on screen, in television and theatre in equal measures as men.
Daire Halpin is an Irish soprano who has built a considerable reputation as a contemporary music performer. Described as “exquisitely voiced” (The Guardian), Daire’s operatic engagements have included the world premieres of Torsten Rasch’s The Duchess of Malfi (English National Opera) playing Julia, as Hilde in Craig Armstrong’s The Lady from the Sea (Scottish Opera), and Hulda in Raymond Deane's The Alma Fetish (Wide Open Opera). In 2015, Daire premiered in Byzantium, a new work for voice and piano by Nico Muhly commissioned by the National Concert Hall, Dublin, to celebrate Yeats 2015.
Daire has sung principal roles for Opera Ireland, Opera Theatre Company (now Irish National Opera), Northern Ireland Opera, Les Bougies Baroques, Scottish Opera, English National Opera, the European Opera Centre, and Theater Magdeburg. She has performed with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the EU Youth Orchestra, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Daire’s recordings include RTÉ Lyric FM’s number one best-selling Joyce Songs, the soundtrack for the BBC Radio 4 adaptation of Joyce’s Ulysses, Lady from the Sea by Craig Armstrong, and The Beggar’s Opera for the European Opera Centre with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.
In Spring 2019, Daire will sing the role of Hannah in The Second Violinist with Irish National Opera and Dutch National Opera.
Trish Halpin is editor-in-chief of Marie Claire, the market-leading women’s glossy for which she was voted Editor of the Year by the British Society of Magazine Editors (BSME) in 2013. She has also edited fashion title In Style and lifestyle glossy Red, where she won the BSME award in 2003 and 2005. A qualified coach and patron of children’s charity Rainbow Trust, Trish lives in London with her husband, photographer Neil Cooper, and their twins Esmé and Kit.
Catherine Heaney grew up in Dublin, and has worked as journalist and editor in Dublin and London, at various magazines, and at the publishing company 4th Estate. From 2011 to 2014, she was head of Faber and Faber’s creative writing school Faber Academy. In 2016, Catherine edited a volume of essays, Trinity Tales: TCD in the Nineteen Nineties, published by Lilliput Press. She is a director of the estate of her father Seamus Heaney, and works with publishers and cultural institutions to preserve and promote her father's work and legacy. Catherine is based in London.
Photo credit John Minihan
Marie Heaney is a teacher, writer, and editor. She is the author of two books of Irish myths and legends, Over Nine Waves and The Names Upon the Harp, illustrated by P.J. Lynch. In 2016, Marie edited the best-selling poetry anthology All Through the Night for Poetry Ireland, of which she is patron. She was married to Seamus Heaney.
Amy Huberman is an IFTA-award winning actor, writer, designer, and comic. She has written three successful novels, including the bestsellers I Wished For You, and Hello, Heartbreak. 2018 saw her star in her own six-part comedy series for RTÉ and ACORN TV called Finding Joy, which she also wrote.
Roísín Ingle is a columnist, editor, and podcaster with the Irish Times. She is the author of two collections of her columns, Pieces of Me (Hachette) and Public Displays of Emotion (Irish Times Books), and is the co-author of The Daughterhood (Simon and Schuster) with Natasha Fennell, which has been published in several languages. In September 2015, Roísín wrote about her abortion and became a prolific voice in the campaign to repeal Ireland’s 8th Amendment. She produces The Women’s Podcast on www.irishtimes.com.
Maureen Kennelly has served as Director of Poetry Ireland since October 2013. She was previously the Director of the Kilkenny Arts Festival, the Artistic Director of the Mermaid Arts Centre, and Programme Director with the Cúirt International Festival of Literature. She is a member of the expert advisory committee of Culture Ireland and a board member of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre. A native of Ballylongford, County Kerry, she is a graduate of University College Dublin and the National University of Ireland, Galway.
Áine Lawlor joined RTÉ in September 1984 as a trainee journalist, working on a number of radio and television programmes. She then became a reporter/presenter in January 1988, eventually leading to her becoming a presenter on Morning Ireland, which she joined in 1995 and presented for over 17 years.
Áine has worked on The Pat Kenny Show, Today at 5, RTÉ 2fm News, and a variety of television programmes, including The Nature of Things, Tuesday File and as narrator for the highly-acclaimed series on clerical sexual abuse in Irish institutions, States of Fear. In August 2013, she joined RTÉ’s flagship lunchtime radio news programme News at One as alternating presenter and was also appointed as presenter of The Week in Politics on RTÉ One television. In November 2013, Áine presented a two-part documentary Facing Cancer which followed her as she re-traced the steps of her journey to overcome breast cancer. She has also recently presented Big Week on the Farm, Ploughing Live and Bloom Live on RTÉ One.
Áine was awarded Best News Broadcaster of the Year at the prestigious PPI Radio Awards in October 2012 and went on to be inducted into the PPI Hall of Fame in 2014.
Áine is married to Ian Wilson and they have four children.
Loah is Sallay Matu Garnett, an artist of Irish/Sierra Leonean origin who grew up between Maynooth and West Africa. Loah combines her unique blend of genre-bending Afro-soul that she calls “ArtSoul”. She released several excellent singles/videos (The Bailey, Cortege, and Take It with Irish producer Bantum) followed by her debut EP This Heart in 2017.
Loah has sold out numerous headline shows in Dublin and abroad, appeared at the Electric Picnic, Body & Soul, Longitude, Cork Jazz Festival, Sounds From a Safe Harbour, the Dublin Fringe Festival, and the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris, and performed with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and Glen Hansard in the National Concert Hall, Dublin Castle, and Vicar Street. She has also collaborated with Hozier and Villagers, among others.
After making her first U.S. appearances at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, and in New York in 2017, Loah released This Heart along with a string of high-profile festival appearances, followed by an Irish and U.K. tour. 2019 sees her kick off the year at the Barbican Centre in London for the Imagining Ireland series.
As a theatre maker Louise Lowe makes site-specific and immersive art works within communities of space, place and interest.
Since co-founding ANU Productions in 2009, Louise has directed all of the company’s multi-award winning work to date, including The Lost O’Casey (Abbey Theatre, Dublin Theatre Festival) that was recently nominated for five Irish Times Theatre Awards; Torch (St. Helens UK) that received the Ambition for Excellence award from the Arts Council England; Hentown (Dublin City Council) that was the winner of Irish Times Theatre Award; These Rooms in collaboration with CoisCeim for London International Festival of Theatre. NOW1418, Dublin Theatre Festival, and the TATE Liverpool; PALS in collaboration with the National Museum of Ireland; Angel Meadow, which won Best Production and Best Ensemble Awards at Manchester Theatre Awards, with Louise nominated for Best Director Award at the UK National Theatre Awards/HOME Manchester); and the multi-award-winning Monto Cycle, encompassing Laundry, The Boys of Foley Street and World’s End Lane.
At the LIR Academy at Trinity College, Dublin, Louise teaches devising theatre and the MFA Directing course. She was awarded the International Artist Residency at the Robert Wilson Centre, New York, and is on the Board of Theatre Forum Ireland.
Louise trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama at the University of London and Samuel Beckett Centre, Trinity College, Dublin. She is currently Artist-in-Residence at the Gate Theatre.
The Embassy team are delighted to work again with Alison McKenna as Consultant Producer for St Brigid's Day 2019.
Alison was the Consultant Producer to the Embassy for the St Brigid’s celebration in 2018, and to the Irish Consulate in New York for ‘Welcoming Ireland – the Centenary of 1916’ for the greater New York area in April 2016. In Spring 2016, Alison produced ‘Salon Eire 100’, a multi-disciplinary arts festival in Manhattan. Previously, Alison co-founded b*spoke theatre company and continues to work as an actress and voice-over artist with the Lisa Richards Agency.
Deirdre McPartlin is the new UK Enterprise Ireland office manager, having previously worked as a senior advisor in Enterprise Ireland’s Brexit Unit. Prior, Deirdre worked for three years in Enterprise Ireland’s Engineering Department. As well as working with a portfolio of clients, she led the Engineering Mid-Tier initiative. This involved working with leading Irish engineering companies to support and assist the challenges faced in growing these companies to be leaders in their niche.
Deirdre has more than 15 years of experience helping Irish companies understand and access the German, Austrian and Swiss markets. In 2008 she was appointed Manager of the Enterprise Ireland office in Dusseldorf with responsibility for the German-speaking region, and led a team with particular expertise in life sciences, industrial, retail, software and services sectors. Previously, Deirdre was Manager of the Enterprise Ireland office in Vienna with responsibility for the Austrian, Slovenian and Croatian markets.
Professional sailor Joan Mulloy grew up in Westport on the shores of Clew Bay in County Mayo. Her father is a mussel farmer and the ocean has always been an integral part of Joan’s life. Leaning to sail aged eight, Joan was always inspired by stories of her ancestor, Grace O’Malley, the “Pirate Queen”, a sea-going chieftain of the 16th century.
Joan graduated and worked as an engineer until the call of the sea became too loud to ignore. In 2017 she launched her own solo sailing campaign, with the ambition to compete in the Vendée Globe round the world race. In 2018 Joan became the first Irish woman to compete in the Solitaire du Figaro, a gruelling solo offshore race in France. She aims to put Irish offshore sailing and women's sporting achievements in the spotlight once again as she gears up to compete in the Vendée Globe race in 2020.
Doireann Ní Gríofa
Doireann Ní Ghríofa writes prose and poetry in both Irish and English. Among her awards are a Lannan Literary Fellowship (USA), the Ostana Prize (Italy), the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and a Seamus Heaney Fellowship. Her latest book is a bilingual selection of poetry titled ‘Lies.’
Doireann’s artistic practice often involves cross-disciplinary collaborations, fusing poetry with film, dance, music, and visual art, and she has been invited to perform her work internationally, most recently in Scotland, Paris, Italy, and New Zealand.
Liz Nugent is a writer of award-winning psychological suspense novels Unraveling Oliver (2014), Lying in Wait (2016), and Skin Deep (2018). All three books topped the Irish bestsellers list and won Irish Book Awards. Liz’s books are translated into 18 languages. Appian Way, Leonardo Di Caprio’s production company in Los Angeles, have optioned screening rights for Unraveling Oliver. In 2017, Liz won the Irish Woman of the Year Award for Literature. Liz has also written extensively for radio and television.
As Managing Director of O’Donovan Waste Disposal, Jacqueline O’Donovan is one of the waste and construction sectors’ most passionate pioneers of employee training, industry best practice and the safety of all road users. Under her direction, the family-run London-Irish waste management business has gone from strength to strength, with 160 employees and a turnover of over £21 million.
Jacqueline is recognised as a leading force in the industry and holds a number of respected fellowships and affiliations with professional organisations and trade bodies. She has won several prestigious awards, including PwC UK Private Business Woman of the Year 2018 and Institute of Directors’ Family Business Director of the Year, as well as previously being named the Outstanding Woman in Construction and the Vitalise Business Women of the Year.
Jacqueline was bestowed the Freedom of the City of London and honoured by Irish President Michael D. Higgins with a Presidential Distinguished Service Award for her continuous support of the Irish community in the UK.
Photo credit Richard J. Velasco
Tara O’Grady is a singer, songwriter, and band leader from New York City who dazzles fans with her witty lyrics and vintage fashion. She’s also a rare storyteller and soon-to-be published author with fascinating tales of her encounters across the globe in her memoir Migrating Towards Happiness.
Awarded Irish Voice’s Most Influential Woman 2010, Tara has five releases: Black Irish (2010), Good Things Come to Those Who Wait (2011), A Celt in the Cotton Club (2013), Irish Bayou (2015) and Folk Songs: Songs About Real Folks (2017). Her recording of the Danny Boy was featured in an award-winning BBC documentary film celebrating the song's 100th anniversary. The film was nominated for best documentary at Ireland's Film & Television Awards in 2014, and starred O’Grady, Judy Collins, Joe Jackson, Gabriel Bryne, Rosanne Cash, and Paddy Maloney of The Chieftains.
Her band, Tara O'Grady & The Black Velvet Band, perform weekly in Manhattan at jazz clubs and combine celtic, folk, funk, blues, rockabilly, gospel, swamp pop and jazz in their unique lickety-split swing sound that has been described as eclectic, authentic, timeless and nostalgic.
Ciara Pryce has worked for the VGC Group—which specialises in delivering people and projects for major infrastructure projects across the UK—for 16 years. Ciara initially led the Human Resource (HR) HR team following her Masters in HR Management, was appointed to the Board in 2005 and, as Group Services Director, now leads major head office functions, including HR, finance, information technology, and marketing.
VGC Group has a well-established corporate social responsibility strategy focused on attracting new entrants to the industry, developing the existing workforce and supporting the wider community. As the first labour supplier in the UK to achieve the BRE 6002 Ethical Labour Sourcing standard in 2018, VGC demonstrated its ethical approach to recruitment and its commitment to eliminating modern slavery. Ciara believes that VGC’s approach to labour supply is helping to make the construction industry more diverse, safer and a preferred career choice.
Ciara has been listed in the UK Top100 Corporate Modern Slavery Influencers’ Indexand the LDC Top 50 Ambitious Business Leaders.
Sophie Spence played an integral part of Ireland’s most successful women’s rugby team. She helped Ireland win two Six Nations tournaments in 2013 (Grand Slam) and 2015. Sophie also played in two Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2014 and 2017, and was part of the team that beat New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup in 2014. In 2015, Sophie was a nominee for the World Rugby Player of the Year, RTÉ Sportsperson of the Year, and was the Guinness Rugby Writer’s Player of the Year. Sophie is now a proud owner of Y Shed Coffee Shop in Swansea and the Spence Rugby Academy rugby camps for girls.
Former Topshop designer Chupi Sweetman quit fast fashion and fell in love with sparkly things. Made in Ireland, Chupi's precious jewellery collection sells in 64 countries around the world. Chupi is a passionate advocate for the idea of ‘made with love’. Inspired by Ireland’s rich design heritage, her pieces are heirlooms for modern women.
Born in Cork, Tracey Symon began at CIT Cork School of Music playing piano and classical guitar, and continued her studies there at third level. Tracey is a versatile pianist, comfortable with performing in a wide range of styles. Her excellent sight reading and musical abilities have led her to become one of Cork’s most popular accompanists, including for the brass and woodwind department at CIT Cork School of Music, and audition and corporate pianist for Cork Opera House. Tracey has also performed for the Taoiseach.
In addition to her work as a performer, Tracey is a freelance musical director. She is proudly associated with the Montfort College of Performing Arts in Cork, with a group from the college selected to showcase an arrangement by Tracey at the RDS in Dublin in 2018. Tracey relocated to London in 2017, and established herself as an in-demand piano teacher and accompanist. Recent collaborations in London have been with various Irish artists through Irish Heritage in St. George’s Hanover Square. Tracey also serves as the Musical Director of the Academy of Performing Arts in Essex.
Lisa Tierney Keogh
Photo credit Ros Kavanagh
Lisa Tierney Keogh was born in Dublin and recently returned home after ten years living in New York. She is Associate Playwright at the Abbey Theatre, and her new play, This Beautiful Village, will receive its world premiere on the Abbey stage in 2019. Lisa’s plays have been performed in Dublin, New York, London, Belfast, and Mexico City. Four Last Things, her critically acclaimed play, has been translated and performed internationally, and will receive its U.S. West Coast premiere in 2019. Lisa received the Irish Times Theatre Awards Bursary and was nominated for the Stewart Parker Trust Award, the BBC Tony Doyle Television Award, and the Dublin Fringe Festival Awards for Best New Play, Best Production, and Judges’ Special Award for Four Last Things.
Lisa was a core member of #WakingTheFeminists and in 2016 accepted the first International Lilly Award for #WakingTheFeminists at the annual Lilly Awards in New York. She is also a co-founder of Irish Stand, a grassroots movement that supports and raises money for immigrants in vulnerable communities. Lisa co-hosts the Irish Stand podcast with Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.
Lisa has written for radio and print media and, since 2017, has regularly contributed to the Irish Times about living in the U.S. and her return home to Ireland.
Actress Eileen Walsh is originally from Cork and lives in London.
Eileen’s recent work includes for television Catastrophe (Seasons 3 and 4) and Women on the Verge; for film The Children’s Act; and for theatre Aristocrats at the Donmar Warehouse, Absolute Hell at the National Theatre and The Plough And The Stars at the Abbey Theatre.
Originally from Sweden, Birgitta studied Marine Biology and started up Burren Smokehouse in Lisdoonvarna 21 years ago. The Burren Smokehouse produces award-winning organic salmon, trout, eel and mackerel. Birgitta is Chairperson of Slow Food Clare, Chairperson of IASC, a member of Good Food Ireland and a member of the Forás Orgánach marketing board.
Director of Cashel Blue Cheese, Sarah joined the family business in 2003 bringing her experience of the wine trade to both the commercial/branding, organoleptic and making aspects of the cheese business. Recognised as one of Ireland's premier farmhouse cheeses, Cashel Blue and its sister Crozier Blue are available widely on the cheeseboards in many of Ireland and Britain's Michelin Star Restaurants and the business has a growing retail business in Irish and UK supermarkets.
MD of Goatsbridge Trout Farm and a recognised innovator in the Irish food scene, Mag along with her husband employ more than twenty staff in their Kilkenny-based business. Goatsbridge supplies supermarkets, restaurants, delis and specialist fishmongers with fresh trout and for the past three years has also focused on the production of its award-winning prepared fish products, such as smoked rainbow trout, pâté and their award winning trout caviar.
Colette is chief executive and co-founder of what is now known as the Clonakilty Blackpudding Co. The business has grown from a single butcher's shop to be one of the best known brands in the Irish food business, supplying branded black and white pudding, sausages and rashers to multiple restaurants and shops throughout Ireland and the UK. A finalist in the 2010 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Colette is the 2011 recipient of the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year Award, and also the awardee of the 2011 Women Mean Business Entrepreneur of the Year, on the basis of her entrepreneurial spirit, innovation and leadership.
Siobhan Ni Ghairbhith
A former school teacher turned cheese maker, Siobhan took over the St Tola cheese company after the original owners were selling up in 1999. Siobhan is the former Chairperson of CAIS, a member of Slow Food Ireland and a member of the Taste Council. She is fervent believer in organic farming practises, a fluent Irish speaker and a passionate advocate of Irish food, culture and music.
Dorene hails from a family farm which has been rearing grass-fed beef for five generations. This culture was in part the inspiration behind The Farmer's Daughter as Dorene noticed that there was a gap in the market for Irish-branded beef burgers. The burgers are also gluten-free, water-free and additive-free. Dorene has worked in the food industry for ten years.
Pamela is the Founder and Managing Director of Wicklow Way Wines, producers of Móinéir Irish Strawberry, Blackberry and Raspberry Wines. With a background in engineering and management Pamela is a strong believer in the power of innovation and the environment, having worked in Airtricity to develop Ireland's only offshore windfarm and others in Ireland and abroad. That care for the environment is one of the driving forces in Wicklow Way Wines, which has been a member of Bord Bia's Origin Green programme since its first wines were sold. Móinéir wines are served in a number of Ireland's Michelin star restaurants, speciality food outlets, and online. Winery tours and tastings are now being run to demonstrate the winemaking process and offer tastings of the three wines.