Friday 20 January 2017

Stars for the next generation

As 'Time' magazine includes Saoirse Ronan in its crop of Next Generation Leaders, Tanya Sweeney picks the young Irish whose best is yet to come

Published 10/06/2016 | 02:30

Playing ball: Footballer Stephanie Roche now plays for Sunderland Ladies Photo: Caroline Quinn.
Playing ball: Footballer Stephanie Roche now plays for Sunderland Ladies Photo: Caroline Quinn.
Joanne O'Riordan
Grace Dyas. Photo: Gerry Mooney.
Grace Dyas
James Whelton
Aine O'Domhnaill.
Dean McKillen
Daire Hickey.
Iseult Ward
Simone Rocha

Saoirse Ronan is no stranger to finding herself in eminent company. And when she appeared on the cover of 'Time' magazine as part of their Next Generation Leaders list, she headed a charge of glittering young greats.

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Saoirse is also part of a groundswell of young Irish powerhouses, who are all outstanding and inspiring in their own fields. Here are some of the bright young things who are already shaking things up at home and abroad.

Joanne O'Riordan


Fresh from a spot as Grand Marshal at this year's St Patrick's Day parade, this Cork-born disability activist, right, shows little sign of slowing down. As well as winning the Outstanding Person Of The Year award last year, she was also nominated for the International Junior Chamber Award, previously been bestowed upon Henry Kissinger and John F Kennedy. As well as successfully taking on Enda Kenny, she has also addressed the UN and talked technology with Apple and MIT. Not bad going for a 20-year-old.

Grace Dyas

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Setting up her own theatre company in 2010 at the age of 21, playwright and theatre-maker Dyas is not afraid to shy away from the tough issues: 'The Game', showing at Dublin's Theatre Festival last year, was part commentary, part social experiment, focusing on the theme on sex work. Already, she has won the Fishamble New Writing Award as part of Absolut Fringe 2009 for her play 'Rough'.

Simone Rocha


No London Fashion Week is complete without a slice of sheer sartorial drama from the Dublin native (pictured right). While fashion is in her genes, Rocha (29) has had to overcome accusations of nepotism: she did this with no shortage of élan when she graduated from the Fashion MA and Central Saint Martin's in London. Now selling to some of the most prestigious stockists in the world, including Browns in London and Bergdorf Goodman in New York, she also recently launched a collaboration with US denim label J Brand.

Dean McKillen


The son of Belfast-born developer Paddy and younger brother of property whizz Paddy Jr, Dean (29) is no slouch himself when it comes to business. Dean came to attention when he sold a mansion he revamped to Sam Nazarian, an Iranian hotel and nightclub tycoon, nicknamed Los Angeles' 'King of the Night.' The price-tag was $39m for the lavish home which was once owned by 'Naked Gun' villain Ricardo Montalban. Dean also owns the hip Laurel Hardware restaurant and nightclub on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Iseult Ward


Ward made the cut for 'Time's' Next Generation Leaders list last year, and with good reason. The 25-year-old Phibsboro native (pictured below) is a co-founder of FoodCloud - a non-profit food-sharing company that connects charities in need of food with businesses that have too much, all through an app. The Trinity graduate met her co-founder, Aoibheann O'Brien, through a social enterprise evening; after forming a bond over talk of food scarcity, they created the app while Ward was doing her finals.

Aine O'Domhnaill

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Born in the US but now resident in Meath, Aine O'Domhnaill (29) (pictured below left) came to attention after bagging a six-figure deal from Harper Collins for her crime novel 'Freedom's Child', mere days after completing the book. The novel centres on the story of a woman who has spent 18 years under a witness protection programme and embarks on a search for the daughter she gave birth to in prison, and has won O'Domhnaill (whose nom de plume is Jax Miller) worldwide acclaim. Expect a lengthy and prolific career in crime writing.

Stephanie Roche


Who can forget the moment that Stephanie Roche (26) glided past an agog Ronaldo at the FIFA Puskas Awards in 2014? Playing with Peamount against Wexford Youths, Roche landed a goal in the back of the net that won her not only YouTube glory, but a place on the FIFA Puskas' goal of the year shortlist alongside Robin Van Persie and James Rodriguez (both playing in the 2014 World Cup). Now happily ensconced at Sunderland AFC Ladies as part of a lucrative deal, Roche very much has career greatness still in her crosshairs.

Bridie Monds-Watson

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The Derry songbird, known by her stage name SOAK, now 20, has been lauded for her intimate, lo-fi and thoroughly modern folk music, but the Derry teenager is also a vocal LGBT activist too. She picked up a guitar at 13 and began uploading acoustic demos online; at 16 she was flying to London for meetings with labels. Now sitting pretty on esteemed indie label Rough Trade, her album 'Before We Forget How To Dream' also won the 2015 Choice Music Prize.

James Whelton


Whelton (23), pictured, is a familiar name in tech circles; he co-founded CoderDojo, an acclaimed network of coding clubs for youngsters. The start-up has branches as far afield as Japan, India and Brazil. Quite apart from that, Whelton runs his own social media start-up Disruptive Developments and is hacker-in-residence with billion-dollar American private equity firm, Resolute Venture Capital. Whelton's other achievements include being the first person to hack the iPod Nano and being named an Ashoka Fellow for his social entrepreneurship. Not bad for someone who turned down €100,000 for a 10pc stake in his company Social Force.

Daire Hickey

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Proving that Ireland is teeming with tech heavyweights, Daire Hickey (29) has also shone on the world stage as a co-founder of the Web Summit (alongside Paddy Cosgrave and David Kelly). 'Forbes' magazine have named him as a youngster to watch, while he has pulled in more than $2 million in media partnerships for his tech conference events, including the Web Summit, as well as Collision in Las Vegas and Rise in Hong Kong. And with the Web Summit heading to Lisbon this year, only time will tell if Hickey, right, can scale more dizzying heights.

Irish Independent

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