Change is afoot. We've known that now for a while. Times have changed beyond recognition but as a nation, we've muddled through it and it looks like we're finally emerging at the other end. But post-crash, the goalposts have shifted and for the first time in a generation we're in danger of losing our brightest to emigration. This isn't necessarily a bad thing – one way to look at it is that Irish talent is flying the flag and making us proud in every imaginable corner of the globe. Because no matter what the state of the country's coffers, creativity is one area where we've always been minted.
There's an entire new generation of Irish making noise in every sphere, from the arts to business to sport to politics and beyond. Some have already become household names; others soon will be. This country is positively exploding with ideas, and people more than capable of making them a reality. And if no one will offer them an opportunity, chances are they'll
create their own.
We're calling the following list – which isn't your usual procession of photogenic young things – 'the New Establishment', an umbrella term, because some of those included mightn't feel like they belong to any kind of establishment at all. Regardless, this is our compilation of young Irish people that we think are doing important things, whether in this
country or abroad. They're not listed in order of brilliance, and it's not a definitive list, but that's exactly the point.
A key part of the creative dynamic behind film production company Still Films, Paul Rowley has given us some of the most intriguing Irish films of recent years: documentaries like Seaview (he co-directed with Nicky Gogan) and, more recently, Pyjama Girls (he edited and produced). He won the Glen Dimplex award for his celebrated video work with regular collaborator David Phillips; they recently completed a major public art commission, 'Local Time', for Los Angeles' LAX Airport. Dividing his time between Dublin and NYC, he's a whirlwind of creativity – and an absolute gentleman.
Most admirers of her oeuvre – and there are many – don't even realise that Linda Brownlee is Irish. All they tend to know is that Brownlee is one of the finest fashion photographers of the modern age. Her unmistakable work can be viewed in any number of publications, from Russian Vogue to Vice magazine; she balances commissions with an ongoing series of personal projects exploring the lives of society's sub-cultures, ranging from her London neighbours to Irish power-lifters. Simply put, her work is extraordinary.
Promoter and party queen Mimi is the evil mastermind (a compliment) behind the monthly Partie Monster bashes: glorious, poly-sexual nights of divine madness, each sporting a different theme, as frequented by an eclectic sprinkling of trainee degenerates, all dressed up to the nineteen ninety-nines… It's a scene. Mimi's extended coterie of creatives has put a long-absent sense of occasion back into Dublin clubland – long may she dance on.
After 2003's acclaimed An Evening Of Long Goodbyes, Paul Murray's second novel was always going to be eagerly anticipated by discerning readers. What no one could have quite anticipated was the stone-cold instant classic that is Murray's Skippy Dies, a sprawling tragi-comic tale of love and loss in a Dublin secondary school, and the arrival of a major talent. The critics went doolally, Neil Jordan snapped up the movie rights and Skippy Dies landed Murray on the 2010 Man Booker Prize long list.
There are chefs who see kitchen life as a springboard to stardom, and then there are chefs who get on with the task in hand – cooking up a storm. Seamus Commons is the latter: as head chef at La Fougère Restaurant in Westport's Knockranny House Hotel, he's been piling up the accolades at a furious rate, while cementing a reputation as an adventurous and playful culinary scientist. His Clew Bay scallops are already the stuff of legend. Best in Mayo? Best in the country, more like.
The artistic director of Dublin's Project Arts Centre runs a good house, presiding over the wave of creative energy fuelling the artistic re-boot of a jaded capital city. Over the past decade, White has offered haven to a generation of emerging artists, creating a safe space for them to simply do their thing. What's more, he's a tireless and eloquent champion of the arts. Here's a man who talks a great show, and then promptly delivers it.
As creative director of Teen Vogue, Aoife Wasser oversees the art department behind the most influential teen publication in America, shaping the tastes of millions – a true position of pop-cultural power. Arriving in New York three months after she graduated from college in Dublin, she landed an internship with style bible V Magazine – and never looked back. Renowned for her inspired design nous and grace under (deadline) pressure, her career trajectory has been swift and spectacular. Here, she's feted by the design élite as a national treasure – and rightfully so.
This teenager completed his Leaving Cert last year, one of eight students in the country to score eight A1s. A year previously, he sold the software company he founded with his brother Patrick for €3.2m. Right now, he's studying science at Harvard University. One day he will return and, chances are, rule the world from a floating castle hovering over his native Limerick. The brothers set up Auctomactic in early 2007, but were unable to find funding from Irish investors. Instead, they won backing from a company in Silicon Vallery. There are lessons to be learned here.
Portlaoise-born thesp Robbie Sheehan has been juggling plum TV gigs – notably Channel 4's Red Riding trilogy – with a burgeoning movie career, having just wrapped Season Of The Witch (with Nicolas Cage) and Belfast-shot comedy Killing Bono. He's best known as Nathan in C4's cult superhero soap Misfits, and any minute now, you can catch him in flagship RTé drama, Love/Hate. He's beautiful, talented, and just 22.
Bubba Cowen spent most of the year bigging up Ireland's animation industry as a model for the way forward – companies like local heroes Brown Bag, two-time Oscar-nominees for Give Up Yer Aul' Sins and Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty. Under the savvy guidance of chief executive Cathal Gaffney, Brown Bag has spent the last few years producing major animated series for the likes of Disney, Nickelodeon and the BBC. Next up: its first animated feature. It's time to celebrate a true Irish success story.
As an actor, Dylan Tighe is fearless, willing to shed all inhibitions to satisfy his vision. As the creator of audacious and inspired theatrical experiences, he relocated Lorca's The Horse Of Bernarda Alba to a Travellers' halting site. And then there's the envelope-pushing live art: Tighe's legendary 2006 performance Mise Éire involved him getting naked and drinking shots of Guinness – one a minute, for 60 minutes – before vomiting on the Irish flag. You had to be there. When not planning new adventures for his company Stomach Box, he's recording an album. We're always excited to see what he does next.
Carroll's 'On The Record' blog is essential reading, a coruscating take on The Final Days Of The Music Industry; things get even better when he goes off-topic, offering his thoughts on everything from the weekend's GAA fixtures to his current favourite American TV import. A labour of love is the Choice Music Prize, Ireland's answer to the Mercury – he's still mad about the music, see. He should really do that book he's been talking about. It's a bestseller waiting to happen.
Cork dynamo Bushnell is the chief executive of Bushnell Solutions, a company that creates opportunities for emerging Irish and European companies to make inroads on that elusive US market. That's for starters: she also works with MoneyMate, a Dublin-based company offering fund data management services to global investment banks. From her downtown Jersey City base, Bushnell has spent the past decade offering invaluable assistance to any number of Celtic Cubs on the up. Now that we're left picking up the pieces, we need her more than ever.
There was an awful lot of tosh talked during the Tiger years, not least concerning the virtues of the interweb. One of the few serious players still in the game is JFo, founder and managing director of Cybercom, Ireland's leading digital marketing agency. The proof is in the client list: Cybercom handles online marketing for Guinness, Diageo, Vodafone, Coca Cola, and AIB. He talks it. He walks it. And he's Mr Sheana Keane after hours.
Meet Mr Saturday Night, the mad genius behind New York's coolest party nights: since his arrival stateside in 2004, Harkin has been bringing da funk (translation: he creates opportunities for fashionable young people to dance) to venues across Manhattan and Brooklyn – he also produces his own tunes, spins discs at clubs across the globe, hosts a regular radio show and remixes tracks for the ikes of Crystal Castles.
It's questionable whether Annie McManus's career would have flourished had she remained in her native Dublin: instead, she's living it large on the London scene, hosting BBC Radio 1's flagship dance show, Annie Mac's Mash Up. Her busy live schedule reads like a checklist of all the essential clubs and festivals worldwide, and her ear for a happening groove remains faultless.
Not yet 30, composer Jonathan Nangle is making a career out of beautiful noise, be it an interactive sound installation for Culture Night or works to be performed by the Dublin Guitar Quartet in collaboration with his own Spatial Music Collective. Writing about his work is, to badly paraphrase David Bowie, like clog-dancing about economics. Listen instead.
A decade's worth of solid graft has paid off for Dublin born, LA-based screenwriter Eilis Kirwan: she wrote The Whistleblower with regular writing partner Larysa Kondracki, which won standing ovations at its world première at this year's Toronto Film Festival. The cast includes Rachel Weisz, Monica Bellucci and Benedict 'Sherlock' Cumberbatch. Now Kirwan is developing several projects, including a series for a major US cable network. To paraphrase Ron Burgundy, she's kind of a big deal 'round here.
Becoming A Jackal, the debut album by Villagers, was the sound of the Irish summer. The rapturous critical applause, followed by a Mercury Prize nomination, marked a coming-of-age for Conor O'Brien, whose previous outfit, the Immediate, came tantalisingly close to greatness before falling apart. It would have been too easy for O'Brien to become another cult hero – instead, he's a radio-friendly sensation and the co-creator (Villagers, it should be stressed, are a band) of the finest Irish record of the new decade. He's setting the bar high. He'll raise it further.
The son of veteran PR consultants Terry Prone and Tom Savage, Savage Jr was born positively camera-ready: as managing director for the Communications Clinic, Anto spun spin into gold, all the while honing those broadcasting chops at Today FM… Now he's hosting The Apprentice: You're Fired, a gig that didn't do Brendan O'Connor any harm. Tubbers is the new daddy of Irish broadcasting, and urbane young/old TV smoothies are in serious demand – this Savage eye is already on the prize.
As the national nursing officer for Siptu, Dubliner Louise O'Reilly was partially responsible for the brokering of one of the most controversial agreements in recent Irish history – the Croke Park deal. She's a principled, impassioned and fiercely intelligent advocate for nurses' rights, a new face wrought from old-school union stock. More often than not, she's to be found on the frontlines, calling it as she sees it. She's far too smart to hold political office – what about broadcasting?
The celluloid surprise of the year is His & Hers, a stunning feature-length documentary about Irish women – and their troubles with men. Ken Wardrop's first feature, after a series of delicious, awardwinning short films, became a sleeper hit at the local box office: now he's diving headfirst into his first fictional work, entitled Probable Parent. We're going to take a punt and wager that His & Hers might just see Wardrop at the Oscars next spring. It couldn't happen to a nicer (or more talented) bloke.
The former frontman of Dublin's Il Primo bought the business and ran it himself, rather successfully. Now his latest endeavour, Dillingers in Ranelagh, is flying. This man knows what Irish people want from a restaurant these days: an informal, easygoing vibe, great food and well-priced wine. Next up: a new NYC-style Mexican restaurant. Foodie types are already salivating in anticipation. Farrell travels to Italy, importing his own wines direct from the producers to keep costs down.
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