Monday 24 October 2016

Ireland's 40 under 40 you should know

From business to politics and sport to science, they're the next generation talents putting Ireland on the map. Andrea smith rounds up 40 Irish people under 40, whose names you'll want to drop

Published 25/09/2016 | 02:30

Seana Kerslake in Dun Laoghaire for Weekend Magazine. Picture: Fran Veale
Seana Kerslake in Dun Laoghaire for Weekend Magazine. Picture: Fran Veale
Seana Kerslake. Photo: Fran Veale
Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh, inventor of Sugru
Rex Ryan
'Snap Chat King' James Kavanagh
Helen McEntee
Richard Malone
Ireland's Gary O'Donovan (right) and Paul O'Donovan (left) celebrate winning silver in the Lightweight Men's Double Sculls Final at The Lagoa Stadium on the seventh day of the Rio Olympic Games, Brazil
Dundalk's Robbie Benson at Oriel Park

We may joke that, here in Ireland, everyone knows everyone else but in fact some of our biggest talents and most accomplished citizens are not household names.

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To this end, Weekend has sought out the bright young things set to be the future leaders of every area of Irish society. You may be familiar with some of their faces, but doubtless few will realise the depth of their achievements. Read on for (in no particular order) the 40 Irish people under 40, whose names you need to know…

1. Seána Kerslake: Acting

With her lead role in Irish film A Date for Mad Mary, this beautiful 25-year-old actress from Tallaght is the name on everyone's lips at the moment. The middle child of John and Deirdre Kerslake's three daughters, Seána was studying English and music at NUI, Maynooth, when a casting agent visited Maureen Ward's Talented Kids Performing Arts School where she studied drama. He sent the tape to director Kirsten Sheridan, who selected Seána aged 19 for the lead role in Dollhouse. She received a best actress nomination for her performance at the 2013 IFTA awards. She was also awarded the Bingham Ray New Talent Award at the Galway Film Fleadh 2016. Aside from acting, Seána sings and plays the piano and is also keen on kick-boxing. She is currently on TV screens in RTÉ comedy Can't Cope, Won't Cope, and is touring with Stephen Jones's play From Eden.

2. Rob Doyle: Writing

Rob Doyle (34) is one of the most exciting emerging voices in Irish literature. The Dubliner only started publishing work when he was almost 30. After much rejection, his debut novel, Here Are the Young Men, was published by Bloomsbury in 2014. It was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards 'Newcomer of the Year,' and chosen as a book of the year by many media publications, including Hot Press, which included it as one of its '20 Greatest Irish Novels Since 1916'. Rob's second book, This is the Ritual, was published earlier this year, also to great critical acclaim. Coming in the middle of Antoinette and Jimmy Doyle's three sons, the writer grew up in Crumlin. His degree was in philosophy and he did a master's degree in psychoanalysis at Trinity College. He travelled around the world after college, teaching and doing various jobs to make ends meet. Rob has been writing essays, reviews and short stories for a variety of newspapers and journals, and is currently editing an anthology of Irish literature for the Dalkey Archive Press.

3. Lynn Ruane: Politics

At 31, Senator Lynn Ruane has transcended some early difficulties to become a key player on the political scene. The daughter of Bernie and the late John, Lynn grew up in Killinarden, west Tallaght. Having dabbled in drugs, robbing cars and shoplifting as a teenager, her life completely turned around when she became a mum at 15 to her actor daughter, Jordanne Jones, now 16. She also has a nine-year-old daughter, Jaelynne Wallace. Lynn completed her Leaving Cert through a young mothers' education programme. She worked in the field of addiction for several years, prior to entering Trinity College in 2012 via the Trinity Access Programme. Having been elected student president from 2015-16, she is now in the final year of PPES (philosophy, political science, economics and sociology). Lynn was elected to Seanad Éireann in May. She's on the education committee, and is keen to work on the issues of drug usage, education funding, teacher training and homelessness.

4. Cian Twomey: Social media

With 5.3 million followers on Facebook from over 70 countries, Corkman Cian Twomey is an internet comedy sensation. The 22-year-old from Blackrock is the son of Elizabeth and the late Paul, and he inherited his flair for comedy from his dad. Cian studied TV and film production at St John's Central College. His videos took off when he began featuring his girlfriend 'Emily' and her demanding behaviour. He struck gold playing the dual roles of himself and Emily, although he assures us that real-life girlfriend Emily Rochford is nothing like the character he portrays. Although he has written stand-up sets, he feels his type of humour is best served in a video format.

5. Grace Dyas: Theatre

At 27, activist, playwright and director Grace Dyas has established herself as one to watch. In November 2008, she formed THEATREclub with two colleagues, with an aim of attracting the younger crowd she felt was generally being alienated by theatre. The daughter of Imelda and Sean, Grace is from Rialto, and she got married to Martin Sherry during the summer. Grace's interest in making theatre came about when she joined Dublin Youth Theatre as a teenager. She won the Fishamble New Writing Award as part of Absolut Fringe 2009 for her play Rough. Another production, HEROIN, won the Spirit of The Fringe award in 2010. Her sex-industry production, The Game, is currently running at the Brisbane Festival in Australia. It's Not Over is part of Dublin Theatre Festival in October, while The Ireland Trilogy, comprising three works, The Family, HEROIN and HISTORY, will be at the Abbey's Peacock stage in November.

6. Dr Lydia Lynch: Medicine

Dr Lydia Lynch had a major breakthrough when she discovered iNKT (invariant natural killer T-cells) in fat, and demonstrated that therapies to activate these cells could help manage obesity, diabetes and metabolic disease. Lydia (36), is from Greenhills in Dublin and is the only child of Agnes and Jimmy. She is married to Paul O'Grady, and has three children, Erin (20), Luka (12) and Layla (6). She was a single teenage mum to Erin and went on to do a BSc in cell biology and genetics followed by a PhD in immunology. She was recruited as an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, and now lives between Boston and Dublin. She was recently awarded a European Research Commission starting grant (€1.82m), which allowed her to return to set up a laboratory at Trinity College, where she is an associate professor.

Lydia has won a dazzling array of awards, including the UNESCO-L'Oréal International Women in Science Award ($40k/€36k), a Marie Curie International Fellowship ($350k/€313k), and an American Diabetes Association Award ($600k/€537k). She was selected as one of the 'Women on Walls' of the Royal Irish Academy, and her ambition is to make a real difference in human health, particularly by finding new ways to use our immune system to fight against cancer.

7. Rex Ryan: Theatre


His father, the late broadcaster Gerry Ryan, gave him his name because he thought Rex Ryan would look good on a poster. It proved a prophetic move. Rex completed a business degree before entering the full-time acting course at The Gaiety School of Acting. Since then he has carved out an impressive career in theatre, and was nominated for Best Actor in the 2013 Fringe Festival for his performance in The Birthday Man. Now 26, he received rave reviews for his performance in Pilgrim - a one-man show in which he played 27 different characters - both in Dublin and Edinburgh. Rex has also worked in radio drama for Radio 1, Newstalk and 2fm, and his film credits include Monged and the award-winning short, Solitaire. He's artistic director of The Corps Ensemble acting company, which has a 2016 residency in The Viking Theatre in Clontarf.

8. Paul & Gary O'Donovan: Sport


Cork brothers Paul (22) and Gary O'Donovan (23) made us all proud when they won a silver medal in the men's lightweight double sculls at the Rio Olympics. Apart from securing the country's first-ever medal in rowing at the Olympics, they also added greatly to the gaiety of the nation with their funny personalities and gave us great sayings like "pull like a dog". The 'steak-and-spuds' fan, Paul, also won gold at the 2016 European Rowing Championships. Members of Skibbereen Rowing Club, the brothers were previously coached by their dad Teddy, and their mum Trish led the welcome home party when they arrived back to Skibbereen.

9. Cassie Stokes: Broadcasting


Her soft, mid-Atlantic tones and smiley demeanour have made 29-year-old Cassie Stokes a very popular addition to Xposé's glam squad. The accent is a result of several childhood years spent in Canada with her parents Deirdre and Michael and younger sister, Alex. Cassie went to school at Mount Anville upon her return, before embarking on presenting and communications courses at Ballyfermot College. While still at college, she became an assistant at TV3, where her mum also worked. Cassie went back to Canada at 24 and worked as a voiceover artist and presenter for four years, before moving to London to work at a digital production company. She was invited to return to Dublin earlier this year to cover maternity leave on Xposé, and was recently unveiled as a permanent presenter on the show. Currently single, Cassie is gay and has been very open about her sexuality. She says that as there was nobody in the public eye for her to look up to when she was younger, she's happy to be someone to whom younger people can relate.

10. Dr Shane Bergin: Science

It's fairly unusual for an academic to run a public campaign, but Dr Shane Bergin was behind the 2013 DARTofPhysics project that saw adverts on the DART to spark conversations between commuters. He teamed up with Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin for the 2015 City of Physics campaign, which involved physics art, pop-up installations, podcasts, blogs and stand-up. The 35-year-old grew up with two brothers in Newbridge, Co Kildare, as the son of Siobhan and Philip. Shane did a degree in physics and chemistry of advanced materials at Trinity College, followed by a PhD in physics. He was nominated by his Trinity students for a Provost's Teaching Award, and is now assistant professor of science education at UCD. In 2013, Shane had a scientific first when he caught a drop of pitch falling on camera, and the time-lapse video produced attracted considerable global media attention. He is working with the National Concert Hall on a science/music series for primary schools called Quavers to Quadratics, and with the European Commission to re-imagine the ways we empower and enable young researchers. He presented an RTÉ science radio show Bright Sparks, and he and some fellow physicists have their own ukulele band.

11. Stefanie Preissner: Script-writing

Her darkly funny comedy-drama series, Can't Cope, Won't Cope, is currently lighting up the RTÉ2 schedule, and writer Stefanie Preissner is enjoying a bit of a moment. The 28-year-old first came to attention when she wrote and starred in her successful one-woman show Solpadeine is my Boyfriend. The theatrical and witty Stefanie was born in Munich to a German dad and Dublin mother, but her parents separated early on. She returned to Ireland aged two with her mum Bernie, and they settled in Mallow. Having completed Spanish and drama and theatre studies at UCC, Stefanie attended the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin in 2008. She wrote her first play, Our Father, which enjoyed a sell-out run at the Dublin Fringe Festival and a national tour. Solpadeine was adapted for radio, and is RTÉ's most downloaded podcast to date. It was also performed in Bucharest, Edinburgh and Australia. Stefanie rises at 4.30am to write, and is currently working on a possible follow-up to Solpadeine while also developing projects with Parallel Films UK.

12. Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh: Inventor


Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh is the inventor and CEO of Sugru, the mouldable glue that sticks to almost anything and cures overnight into a durable silicone rubber. Originally from Kilkenny, her NCAD training was in sculpture, and she came up with the concept for Sugru while doing an MA in product design at the Royal College of Art in London. After graduating in 2004, Jane worked on the formula and Sugru launched in 2009. It has earned dozens of awards and global scientific recognition, and was listed in TIME magazine's best inventions. Now 37, Jane is married to James Carrigan and has a five-month-old son, Paddy Óg.

13. Anna Cosgrave: Social entrepreneurship

Those Repeal jumpers you see people wearing are the brainchild of the committed Anna Cosgrave (26) from Rathnew, Co Wicklow. Anna's Repeal Project, and its clothing, acts as a conversation opener and fundraising tool for the Irish pro-choice movement. Its recent video featuring 80 Irish woman went viral. Anna is the youngest of Valentine and MaryPat's three children. She dropped out of sociology and geography at Trinity College, and worked in sales and production and as a volunteer with FoodCloud. Her future ambitions include helping other women across the world who are facing injustices around reproductive rights.

14. Killian Farrell: Music

Earlier this week, Killian Farrell moved to the National Opera Studio in London to pursue his training as a répétiteur - a vocal coach or pianist who specialises in opera. The baby-faced 22-year-old from Templeogue is the elder of Orla and Paul's two children, and he began piano lessons at five and was also in the Palestrina choir at St Mary's Pro Cathedral. Killian was only 15 when he offered to produce and conduct a performance of Bach's St John Passion for the golden jubilee of his local church, featuring top international soloists, an orchestra, and a choir he formed and trained for the occasion. This choir, known as the Jubilate choir, has now grown to a membership of over 60 choristers and has performed to great acclaim under Killian's baton. Killian studied music at Trinity College and aims to become a full-time conductor. He is dating opera singer Aoife Gibney, who has just moved to Germany to pursue a master's degree in opera.

15. Joe Caslin: Art


Artist Joe Caslin (30) is behind some of the most thought-provoking and significant street art in Ireland. These include the much-heralded images of same-sex couples embracing, which were placed on the sides of buildings during the same-sex marriage referendum. Another project, Our Nation's Sons, saw large-scale installations being placed in both urban and rural settings in the name of improving mental health among young men. Joe grew up in Roscommon as the middle child of Leo and Carmel's three sons. He is currently in a relationship, and has been a secondary school art teacher in Tullamore for 10 years. He holds a degree in glass design, a higher diploma in education, a diploma in the psychology of counselling and an MFA in illustration. His future ambitions include installing drawings on listed and historically noteworthy sites.

16. Soak: Music

At 20, Bridie Monds-Watson, aka SOAK, already has a Choice Music Award for Irish Album of the Year under her belt, winning a trophy and a cheque for €10,000. Not bad going as Before We Forgot How To Dream was her debut album, and was full of ethereal and affecting songs sung in her sweet, stark voice. It was also nominated for the Mercury Prize. The Derry singer-songwriter first picked up a guitar at 13 and began writing and uploading acoustic demos online. She entered local music website Chordblossom's Kickstart competition and won the chance to record an EP, and by 16 was having meetings in London with publishers. At 17, Bridie dropped out of her diploma in music in Derry to concentrate on her career. She was initially managed by her parents, Jimmy and Aisling, and has now signed to leading indie label, Rough Trade. Bridie came out as a lesbian at 14, and is known for her distinctive androgynous style. She has been tipped as one to watch in the UK, having made it on to the BBC's Sound of 2015 longlist, performed at music festivals, and won a coveted slot on Later With Jools Holland.

17. Ferdia Walsh-Peelo: Acting/Music

At 17, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo has already won international plaudits for playing the lead role of Cosmo in the musical Sing Street. Not many people his age could say that they have attended the Sundance Film Festival and also appeared in a fashion shoot in British Vogue. The teenager grew up in a house steeped in music as his mum, Toni Walsh, is a soprano and singing teacher. She's married to Mick Peelo, and Ferdia comes third of their four children. He started studying as a boy soprano at seven and sang O Holy Night on The Late Late Toy Show in 2012. A classically trained pianist, he won his first professional contract with the Opera Theatre Company at 12. Ferdia queued for six hours at an open casting for Sing Street. Aged 14, he attended Coláiste Ráithín in Bray, and had a tutor to help him prepare him for his Junior Cert while filming. His performance in the leading role was widely praised, leading to him scooping the seventh Michael Dwyer Discovery Award at the Dublin International Film Festival.

18. Helen McEntee: Politics


At 30, Helen McEntee is the Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People and one of the youngest TDs in Dáil Éireann. She grew up in Meath in the middle of Kathleen and the late Shane's three children, and became engaged last Christmas to Paul Hickey. A DCU graduate, Helen previously worked as parliamentary assistant to her father for three years. She was first elected as a Fine Gael TD in a by-election in 2013 that was brought about by her dad's tragic death. She is chair of the Government's youth mental health task force, and recently announced a Young Persons' Reference Group, co-chaired by Bressie and Emma Farrell.

19. Terry Cavanagh: Games Development

Video game developer Terry Cavanagh was twice named on the influential Forbes '30 under 30' list, which chooses people tipped for success in entertainment. Now 32, the innovative Trinity maths graduate from Tydavnet in Monaghan is based in London, where he runs his company, Distractionware. Terry previously worked as a market risk analyst before focusing on game development full-time. He has created over two dozen smart and experimental computer games. He was nominated for a BAFTA in the Best British Game category for Super Hexagon, and it was a runner up in Apple's 2012's Game of the Year.

20. Robbie Benson: Sport


Robbie Benson (24) from Athlone plays for League of Ireland champions, Dundalk, but had his pick of career options given that he achieved 600 points in the Leaving Cert. A former Ireland underage international, he began his career with Athlone Town in 2008 before winning a scholarship to UCD in 2010. The midfielder gained a degree in maths and chemistry, and also has a master's degree in actuarial science under his belt. This is Robbie's first year to fully concentrate on football. He scored important goals in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers against BATE Borisov and Legia Warsaw. The Warsaw goal was a 'goal of the tournament' contender, and now that he's training full-time, his manager Stephen Kenny thinks he will really improve. He may have left it too late to really make a go of it in England, but some feel he still has a chance if he chooses to go that route.

21. Brian Lee: Business

It probably comes as no surprise to Brian Lee's parents, John and Eileen, that he has become such a successful entrepreneur: he set up a gardening business aged 11 in Kilbarrack. The 31-year-old did a carpentry apprenticeship after school, and used the money he earned to set up a property management company and a convenience store in Dublin city centre aged 22. An avid gym goer, Brian found an opening for convenient food with good nutritive value. He and business partner Andy Chen opened their first Chopped store in 2012, followed by their first gym, Fitness Studios, in Fairview. They opened Chopped up to franchise in 2015, and will have over 20 outlets by the end of 2016, employing over 320 people. Chopped was named as the Best Emerging Franchise at the Irish Franchise Awards in 2016, and Brian was shortlisted for best emerging entrepreneur at the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. The plan for next year is to take Chopped international. In the meantime, he has his hands full, as he and partner, kick-boxing champion Sinéad Beasley, welcomed their first baby, Logan Lee, last week.

22. Danni Barry: Chef

As head chef of Eipic restaurant in Belfast, Danni Barry is the only female Michelin-starred chef in Ireland. She has garnered widespread praise for the excellence of her cooking and inventive menus, and was recently unveiled as Food and Wine magazine's best chef in Ulster and Chef of the Year. Now 31, Danni's interest in becoming a chef was sparked as a teenager when she washed pots at a local restaurant to save money for a car. At the time she lived at home in Mayobridge with her three siblings and parents, Dan and Teresa. Her career path included working at Deanes in Belfast and gaining experience in Australia, New Zealand and Spain. Danni headed up Rogan & Company in the Lake District, and it achieved three AA rosettes with her at the helm. After she came home to Eipic, it also won three AA rosettes as well as that Michelin star. Her future plans include working for herself and having the opportunity to teach people about food and cooking.

23. Gary Dunne: Arts

Gary Dunne has been a marvellous representative for the Irish in London. The 36-year-old grew up in Portlaoise as the second-eldest of John and Denise Dunne's four children, and did a degree in music and education. He combined teaching and music until he left for London in 2002, where he became a full-time recording and touring musician. He is very proud of his creative relationship with Ed Sheeran, which goes back to Ed's 15th birthday. When Gary realised that a lot of the homeless people in Camden were Irish, it led to him volunteering with The London Irish Centre. He subsequently became its cultural officer and is now director of arts. He is also creative programmer of the London St Patrick's Festival, was the first presenter at Google's new 'Spark Sessions' and has been a consultant on mindfulness in schools' programmes. He worked on the globally broadcast Ceiliúradh concert at the Royal Albert Hall, and is busy working on the week-long Irish Arts Festival in London in June 2017. Based in Dublin, Gary is married to Swedish writer and editor Linnea Dunne, and they have two sons, Eddie (4) and Kalle (2).

24 Austin Gleeson: Sport

At 21, Austin Gleeson is a hurler on the Waterford senior team and a Mount Sion clubman. He made his senior debut during the 2014 All-Ireland championship, where his ability to excel in all positions, prowess as a striker and exceptional long range marked him out as a player of exceptional ability.

Austin first came to prominence while at De La Salle College, and arrived on the inter-county scene at 16 when he joined the Waterford minor team. He drew great praise for his five-point haul in a skilled display against Clare in June during the Munster SHC semi-final at Semple Stadium.

25. Emily Butcher: Model


At 19, Emily Butcher has already become one of our hottest exports on the international catwalk. She has been tipped as 'one to watch' by Vogue Italia, and has walked for both Gucci and Armani. Emily was born in England, but moved to Galway with her mother, father and brother aged eight. A friend sent her photo to Dublin-based model agent Andrea Roche, who immediately signed her. Emily is now based in London and is signed to Next Models worldwide. At 5ft 10in tall, she has appeared in several magazines including Glamour Italia and Harper's Bazaar Indonesia. She won an exclusive contract with Gucci and walked runway shows in Milan. Emily went on to shoot the brand's holiday advertising.

26. Paula McSweeney: Radio


Originally from Kilkenny, Paula comes seventh of Sheila and David's eight children. Now 30, Paula joined Today FM in 2012 as a marketing assistant, and moved to work on the Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show as a researcher. After presenting a couple of weekend shows, she began presenting Early Breakfast from 5-7am on weekdays in 2015. A panellist on TV3's Midday, Paula is steadily making a name for herself as a fantastic media personality.

27. Bláthnaid Treacy: Broadcasting

The effervescent Bláthnaid Treacy has graced our TV screens since she was three months old, as she played Biddy and Miley's daughter, Denise Byrne, in Glenroe for 13 years. In real-life, she is the youngest of six from Bray, and her dad is an aircraft engineer while her mum is a special needs assistant. Bláthnaid studied Irish and archaeology at UCD, but realised she wanted to get back into TV when she completed a stint on set as a runner. Her break came when she got a job on the TG4 travel show Ó Tholg go Tolg, after which RTÉ invited her to be co-presenter of TwoTube. She has been working on the weekday young people's show for four years. She presented Saturday Night Takeover on Spin1038 on Saturday nights, before moving to 2fm at the beginning of the year to present The National Chart Show every Friday night. Bláthnaid (28) is currently working on a 10-part fashion-themed series for TG4, and also presents the Lotto. A fluent Irish speaker, she is dating Charlie Mooney of indie band, Croupier.

28. Aisling Daly: Sport


Aisling Daly or 'Ais the Bash' is the best-known face of women's MMA in Ireland. The 28-year-old professional mixed martial artist from Drimnagh is a skilled fighter who competes in the UFC women's strawweight division. She became known for her participation in the UFC reality TV series, The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion Will Be Crowned, where she was eliminated in the quarter-final. Aisling has spoken openly about her experience of suffering with depression and subsequent treatment, and has given talks on the subject. She started MMA at 14 having succeeded in karate and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and has been coached to success by Conor McGregor's trainer, John Kavanagh.

29. Dean McKillen: Business

At 29, enterprising Dean McKillen has developed and built up an impressive portfolio of property in the US. Last year, fashion designer Calvin Klein paid $24m (€22m) for a home Dean developed in the Hollywood Hills. The sale was handled by his brother Tyrone, while his other brother Paddy owns properties that include nightclub Everleigh Gardens, The Dean Hotel and The Vintage Cocktail Club in Dublin. They are the sons of high-profile property investor Paddy McKillen. Dean also owns the hip Laurel Hardware restaurant and nightclub on Santa Monica Boulevard. A mansion he revamped in LA last year was sold to Iranian hotel and nightclub tycoon, Sam Nazarian, for $38m (€35m).

30. Lisa Chambers: Politics

Fianna Fáil TD Lisa Chambers has a colourful background, as she's a practising barrister and was also a member of the Irish Defence Forces. She was in the Army Reserve for 13 years, achieving the rank of 2nd lieutenant, but had to relinquish her service upon being elected to the Dáil in 2016. The articulate 30-year-old from Ballyheane in Mayo received her barrister qualification at the King's Inns, and was a member of Mayo County Council from 2014 until her election to the Dáil. Lisa's political interests are in the areas of health and jobs, and she was appointed spokesperson on defence in the Fianna Fáil shadow cabinet in May.

31. Katie Donohoe: Fashion

Having followed her dream and gone back to study fashion as a mature student, Katie Donohoe was crowned Young Designer of the Year at the 2015 Dublin Fashion Festival. The 32-year-old Terenure woman is the elder of Catherine and Michael's two children, and she studied business and accounting at DIT. Katie worked in the buying office of Arnotts and as retail operations manager at Warehouse, before embarking on fashion design at Griffith College. Her passion is for good fabrics and she designs to flatter women's shapes. Now that she has qualified, Katie's graduate collection is being stocked at Om Diva on Drury Street.

32. James Kavanagh: Social media


This 27-year-old from Churchtown is hilariously funny and daring, and has become the breakout star of Snapchat, where he offers his followers a no-holds-barred view of his daily life. His parents Margaret and Alan have also got in on the action, Snapchatting their trips away with aplomb. James has two older siblings, Coach John Kavanagh of Conor McGregor fame, and Ann Mulligan. Ann's children often pop up in his videos, and James made a video for autism awareness with nephew Sean, who has autism. Having begun his career in PR, James is now launching a food business, Currabinny, with his boyfriend of four years William Murray. They aim to open cafés in Dublin and Cork, publish a cookbook, and have their own product line.

33. Maeve O'Rourke: Law

Maeve O'Rourke is a human rights lawyer and barrister in London, and a graduate of Harvard Law School. While still a student, Maeve represented victims of the church-run Magdalene laundries at the Irish Human Rights Commission, the UN Committee against Torture and the UN Human Rights Council. She was named Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year in the Family Law Awards for her work. The 29-year-old Dubliner is the eldest of broadcasters Seán O'Rourke and Caroline Murphy's six children. She previously worked with Equality Now, an organisation committed to ending violence and discrimination towards females around the world.

34. Gavin James: Music

Gavin James Windmill Lane Sessions_16.jpg  

His success has steadily built through word-of-mouth, and Irish singer-songwriter Gavin James is fast rising to the pinnacle of the Irish music popularity charts. He won the Choice Music Prize Song of the Year for Say Hello in 2013, and again in 2015 for Bitter Pill. As a testament to his appeal, Gavin is the only artist to sell out Dublin's Olympia Theatre and Amsterdam's Paradiso before he ever released an album. Born Gavin Wigglesworth, the 25-year-old musician grew up in Ashington in Dublin and released his debut studio album, Bitter Pill, in 2015. He is currently headlining on tours to the UK, Europe, the US and Canada, culminating in a Dublin gig at the 3Arena in December.

35. Iseult Ward: Social entrepreneur

Iseult Ward's big achievement is the noble one of tackling food waste in Ireland while addressing food poverty in the process. The 25-year-old from Phibsborough in Dublin is co-founder and CEO of FoodCloud, an easy-to-use charity app that matches businesses who have food left over with local charities in need. The Trinity business and economics graduate was named on TIME magazine's prestigious 'Next Generation Leaders' list in 2014, after founding the non-profit company with Aoibheann O'Brien in 2013. FoodCloud facilitates the donation of more than a tonne of surplus food every day to the people who need it.

36. Ashling Thompson: Sport/Mental Health

Ashling Thompson's work in changing attitudes around mental health issues have garnered her as much praise as her prowess on the camogie pitch. The 26-year-old Cork captain has openly talked about the depression she suffered following a car accident in 2009, compounded by losing her boyfriend to suicide in 2012. Ashling is from Newtownshandrum and has two older brothers, Michael and Nigel. Her dad Mattie was a hurler while her mum Sheila was a successful athlete. A self-employed sports therapist, Ashling's talent and athleticism saw her becoming county captain in 2014. Under her leadership, the team won the All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship in 2015 and were runners-up in 2016.

37. Sam Keeley: Acting

When he was only two, Sam Keeley could repeat the Russian conversation from the beginning of the movie, The Hunt for Red October. The son of Regina and musician Brendan Keeley, his dad says that the eldest of his three children had "magical stuff" from an early age. Sam's break came when he was cast in 2011 film The Other Side Of Sleep, after attending an open casting in his hometown of Tullamore, Co Offaly. By the time he got into the DIT acting degree, he was already working alongside Sean Penn in This Must Be the Place, and became too busy for college. Roles included the part of Jamie in E4's Misfits, Philip in RTÉ's Raw and the Jack Taylor films on TV3. Sam became best-known internationally for What Richard Did and Burnt, and he shed a lot of weight to play a starving sailor in Heart Of The Sea. Now 25, he stepped out in Dublin with Jamie Dornan this week for the premiere of The Siege of Jadotville, and is also starring alongside Dornan and Cillian Murphy in Anthropoid.

38. Melanie Murphy: Youtube


When Melanie Murphy started her YouTube channel as a hobby in 2013, she didn't imagine she would end up with over 413,000 subscribers and 40 million views. The 27-year-old from Skerries had embarked on a degree in education and training at DCU with a view to becoming a teacher, and she made a series of natural and honest videos about acne and health. They went viral, and she grew enough of an audience to make creating online content her full-time job after graduating with a first-class degree. Melanie's videos cover confidence, sexuality, health and skincare. She is currently writing her first book. Melanie's family consists of dad Paul, mum Sandra and stepfather Frank, and her younger siblings Andrew and Jessica. Her awards include Blogger of the Year at the Digital Media Awards and Best Vlogger at the Irish Beauty Blog Awards. She also received the silver play button from YouTube for her following.

39. Ellen Kavanagh-Jones: Beauty

While working in retail, Ellen Kavanagh embarked on a beauty therapy course aged 25 at Coogan Bergin College, where she specialised in waxing. She worked in various salons before opening her own salon, Waxperts, in Dun Laoghaire. In partnership with Trish O'Brien, Ellen developed her own professional range of products in 2012 and launched an academy to teach waxing skills. Ellen's Waxperts range is now used in 900 Irish salons, and is nationwide in the UK and Poland. The 36-year-old Rathfarnham woman employs 10 people. She is married to Conrad Jones and they have a three-year-old son Cooper.

40. Richard Malone: Fashion


Richard Malone has already made his mark by being the first Irish fashion degree student at Central Saint Martins in London to be awarded the Louis Vuitton-Moët Hennessy Grand Prix scholarship of £12,500 (€14,570). He was also the first Irish designer to win the Deutsche Bank award of €11,660 for his graduate collection. According to his parents, James and Helen Malone, the colourful 26-year-old from Ardcavan in Wexford was always drawing from an early age. He spent a year in Paris working with Louis Vuitton, and now splits his time between London and Ardcavan. His designs have been featured in British Vogue and Vogue Italia, and singer-songwriter Lorde wore his designs in Dazed.

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