52 People Changing Ireland – And The World – For The Better Right Now
Here's our list of people who are making a difference
Whether it's fundamental changes to the structure of our society, or small but significant changes to the way we live our day-to-day lives, there are dozens of people here transforming the future of Ireland and the world.
Be it through charity work, entrepreneurial prowess, or their contributions to entertainment, these trailblazers are the ones we should be looking at right now.
Here are 52 people who are shaping Ireland right now.
Recently crowned the top young chef in the world, Mark represented Ireland and the UK in San Pellegrino Young Chef competition last June. The Kerry-born kitchen maestro wowed judges with his celeriac baked in barley and fermented hay.
Founder of Dublin’s Little Ass Burrito Bar, the young entrepreneur travelled Mexico to see how locals produce their tortillas and brought authentic, corn-based, soft-shell tortillas back to Ireland for us all to enjoy.
The brains behind Bunsen Burger on Wexford Street, who developed his passion for incredible hamburgers while in New York and who decided to bring some of that meaty goodness to Dublin.
Co-founder of The Fumbally Café, Aisling brought this hipster haven to Dublin 8, with its Mediterranean and North African inspired dishes – and they've gone on to expand into new and exciting areas in the adjoining Stables.
Owner of Sober Lane (in Dublin and Cork), Cork City’s Electric Bar, and the Fish Restaurant, a 40-seat seafood speciality restaurant with a no-booking policy. His Sober Lane venue in Cork has just won the Bar of the Year Award.
This entrepreneur is behind Prospr, a nutrition app that aims to connect nutrition professionals with their clients in a more effective and efficient way – and one that could change our relationship with food.
Brian and Rachel Nolan
Brian and Rachel Nolan are the folks behind the ice cream company Nobó, a Dublin-based food company dedicated to creating dairy-free, healthy, and delicious ice cream – made from avocado and coconut milk, and sweetened with honey.
Responsible for Dillinger’s, The Butcher Grill, 777, and most recently the glamorous Luna, it seems this 41-year-old restauranteur isn’t happy unless he’s opening a new restaurant.
Bray threesome Karen Cowley, Saoirse Duane and Caoimhe Barry may have come to prominence while supporting Hozier on his recent tour but after signing their own deal with Rubyworks and releasing EP The Widow Knows, the band are gaining international success on their own terms.
Hermitage Green's innovative musicianship has won them a loyal fanbase at home over the past number of years – but the band's career looks set to explode here and abroad after signing a deal with Sony Ireland in May.
You may not recognise the name but we have a feeling you'll be very familiar with Cavan lady Áine Cahill by the end of the year. Drawing comparisons to Adele, Lana Del Rey and Amy Winehouse, her sets at Electric Picnic last weekend went down a treat.
Given the success that they've managed to squeeze into the last year, we can only imagine what lies ahead for Donegal duo Little Hours. After playing their first gig at last year's Electric Picnic, they've since managed to secure a Meteor nomination for single It's Still Love, sign a record deal with RCA and play nearly every major festival in the country. We're tired even thinking about it.
Daughter of Bono and Ali, Eve Hewson left Dublin behind to pursue a film career in New York and currently stars opposite Clive Owen in HBO drama The Knick. She's also set to appear in Stephen Spielberg's latest project St James Place and is a regular fixture on the red carpet.
The risqué comedian has been making waves for a while now but went mainstream with a sold-out Vicar Street gig and an appearance on The Late Late Show earlier this year. King of the double-entendre and exemplary wearer of suits – need we say more?
It's been some year for Irish music, with a host of exciting new acts breaking through and Hozier cleaning up across the UK and US. It takes a lot of hard work to get to the Grammys, though, and it all has to start somewhere. First Music Contact – the driving force behind the Hard Working Class Heroes festival – is an invaluable resource for emerging artists.
Dún Laoghaire man James Earley is one of Dublin's leading street artists and his work can be seen all over the country. He recently created a eyecatching mural at City Quay for Visit Dublin and you can see more of his work here.
They stormed the Whelan's stage at this year's Longitude and Girl Band look set to go global this year, with tour dates across North America later this year. New album Holding Hands With Jamie is out at the end of the month on Rough Trade Records.
As a senior publicist at MCD, Rory is behind some of Ireland's most prominent music events and is always a reliable authority on the 'next big thing' – it was from him that many an Irish journo first heard of Hozier, and he's recently been championing Wyvern Lingo.
Charity & Social Entrepreneurs
Iseult Ward and Aoibheann O’Brien
These ladies are hugely passionate about reducing food waste, fighting poverty and restoring Irish community spirit based on shared food. They created the Foodcloud app, where businesses can upload details of their surplus food and specify a time for collection, which those in need can then avail of.
This young man created a website that helps children with disorders on the autistic spectrum learn. A sufferer of autism himself, Adam was recently awarded the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Elevator award for his charity asiam.ie.
This Cork man was so deeply affected by the recent images in the media of a Syrian child drowned at sea that he’s started to organise a fostering and adoption programme for Syrian refugees throughout the country, in the hope of making a real difference in the lives of young asylum seekers.
One of the driving forces behind the Irish Housing Network, an organisation that has been trying to combat the homelessness crisis through the reclamation of NAMA buildings.
Jamie promotes mental heath awareness with his work for the TeenLine, helping teen suffering from anxiety and depression with the free service. He also made headlines recently after talking a suicidal man down from a bridge in Dublin’s city centre.
Heading up the Dublin Simon Community, Sam is one of the most prominent forces in the fight against homelessness in the capital –aiming to address the problem, while providing services that enable people to move to a place they can call home.
Fr Peter McVerry set up the Peter McVerry Trust in order to reduce homelessness and the harm caused by drug misuse and social disadvantage, which is becoming increasingly prevalent in Ireland.
A social entrepreneur, after studying economics and politics Darren spent time working overseas in order to encourage development in South Africa and Kenya. He now sits on the board of Soar, an Irish social to help enterprise working with young people in schools all over Ireland.
Business & Tech
Gammell started Stagit.ie from his bedroom in 2010 and the booking website for stag parties has now mushroomed into a huge business. Gammell’s business now includes henit.ie and thegroupsystem.com. With a turnover of several million, he was recently named winner of the ‘Best Established Business’ Category at #IBYE 2014.
Perceval is CEO of Phorest, the leading salon management software company in the UK and Ireland. The software is used in more than 1,000 salons in ten countries around the world – and if that wasn't enough, he also runs a very popular Salon Summit.
Feilim Mac an Iomaire
Feilim originally began working for Paddy Power after his 'Jobless Paddy' Billboard campaign caught the public imagination and propelled him into media across the UK and Ireland. As PR manager for the bookies, Feilim has his hands full getting Stephen Hawking to predict world cup results, Nigel Farage to support Europe in the Ryder Cup and causing general mischief to successfully get newspaper column inches. He was also responsible for the controversial cousin kissing booth.
Coleman left a high-flying role in PWC to co-found Hassle.com – Hailo for cleaning, as it's called – recently entered millionaire territory as the company was sold to German company helpling. Hassle.com could be described as Hailo for cleaning.
Geraghty is founder of Big Boss Events, which is Ireland’s leading debs, graduation and college ball experts.
Geraghty, while still only in his mid twenties, is co-owner of Crush 87 nightclub and the Orchard Bar in Limerick. The refurbishment of the 14,000 sq ft nightclub was believed to have cost close to €1 million when completed in 2013 in Limerick.
Sean is co-founder of UniTuition with Orla McCallion. UniTuition matches students looking for grinds, with vetted tutors who have excelled in the courses you are struggling with. Unituition recently completed the NDRC launchpad programme before joining Trinity’s launchbox programme this summer.
Buckley has been an absolute game-changer since coming on board with Aer Lingus to head up their social media programme, comprising social customer care, social media marketing and social insights. The airline has recently been smashing it out of the park on social with some great video content, featuring newly skinned Rugby World Cup planes to their weekly sweep of Instagram submitted photos….
One of the leading figures in PR at the moment, Rosney recently made the move from Wilson Hartnell to Edelman Ireland and is something of a Twitter hero.
If there's one must-read website in Ireland at the moment (apart from ours, of course), it's Waterford Whispers and the site has been bang on with its biting satire of late. Targeting anyone and everything, from Denis O'Brien to, um, Lovin Dublin, everyone's waiting to see how they'll react.
Having taken Balls.ie from a “transatlantic phone call to a multimedia business entertaining over 1.1m people each month” with former Newstalk colleagues Ger Gilroy and Donny Mahoney, Reynolds recently made the move home from Toronto to develop Balls Media.
Since her move to 2FM, McSharry has become one of the station's biggest stars and a documentary on her recent battle with Hodgkin's Lymphoma entitled F*ck Cancer will be aired on RTÉ Two in the autumn.
With 275,000 subscribers and 24 million views on YouTube, Melanie Murphy is one of the new wave of online stars and has cultivated a dedicated following for her beauty and lifestyle website.
Quigley is CEO of NewsWhip, which has become as essential as Google in most newsrooms in the country for tracking breaking stories and viral content.
He may be only in his early 30s but Donoghue has continued his dominance of the airwaves by adding News Anchor at UTV to his illustrious CV. He's best known as co-presenter on Newstalk Breakfast, where he spends three hours every morning trying to keep Ivan Yates under control – and the formula has been a winner for the station, growing steadily with every JNLR book.