Ruairi McKiernan and Susie Q travel the country helping to support people through the tough times, writes Andrea Smith
They say three is the magic number, and Susie Q and Ruairi McKiernan certainly felt that way when they got married three times in one week in May 2014. Their first ceremony was on the Hill of Uisneach, an ancient ceremonial site, on their own; the second was a small private ceremony with a celebrant friend and two witnesses.
“The third was what we call our ‘big wedding’, which was upstairs in Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin,” says Ruairi. “We ‘tied the knot’ as part of the traditional Celtic custom where one hand is tied together and the other remains free, symbolising unity but also individual independence.”
The pair have been together for 10 years and met while working in the national youth organisation, SpunOut.ie. Ruairi is one of its founders and Susie took on the communications role. They slowly became good friends and found themselves talking for hours on end about the meaning of life.
“I thought Ruairi had a beautiful humanitarian heart and huge integrity,” says Susie. “I loved how kind
he was to everyone he came in
contact with. It was clear we were both dreamers looking at the stars, and after over a year of working
together, Cupid shot his arrow.”
Ruairi says he felt at ease with Susie in a way he had never done before. “I remember thinking she was a beautiful human, inside and out,” he says. “She is very clear that the thing that matters most in life is love, and is really grounded, compassionate and courageous in how she lives her life. She’s also a stunner, which is an added bonus.”
Known as Susie Q (short for Quirke), Susie (36) comes from Oola in Limerick and is the youngest of Mairead and Bertie’s three children. Ruairi (40) is from Cootehill in Cavan, and is the eldest of Ann and Sean’s three children.
Susie studied communications at DCU after school, and has been training in New York to deepen her work as a meditation teacher. She works with various companies and groups and also teaches one-to-one. More recently, she co-founded the A Lust For Life mental health and well-being movement. Alongside the meditation work, she’s a singer-songwriter, and her debut album as Susie Q is called Into the Sea (www.susieqmusic.com). Recording it has been a dream come true, she says, and her next single is called I Like The Way. “People often cry when I sing, which I think is a good thing,” she says. “Making music, singing and supporting people to drop deep into meditation is my happy place. I see it all as sending loving vibes out into the world.”
Ruairi is a huge fan of both Susie’s music and her meditation work, although he says that her musical ear has made her particularly sensitive to sound. “She has a special aversion to ticking clocks, and either has to get them taken down or leave the room,” he laughs. “It can make for some entertaining scenarios.”
Ruairi studied business at university in Scotland and got involved in volunteering, campaigning and community activism while living in San Francisco. Back home in Ireland, he became involved in health promotion and youth development work in Donegal. From there, he went on to found SpunOut with friends and worked there for eight years. President Michael D Higgins appointed him to the Council of State, which he says was a great honour, and he helped co-found the Uplift campaign organisation and undertook a Fulbright fellowship in Berkeley. He is also the host of the Love and Courage podcast.
“I now work all over Ireland and internationally, doing campaigning, communications, mentoring and leadership work,” he says. “I speak a lot in schools, colleges, workplaces and at conferences, and my work is centred around the themes of well-being and people power, looking at either personal or social transformation or the interface of both.”
More recently, Ruairi and Susie have embarked upon a joint venture called Road To Connection (www.roadtoconnection.com), as they both felt they wanted to do more to support people through the tough times. “We will travel the country offering donation-based talks and workshops that explore the theme of connection through the lens of personal connection with oneself, community connection with each other, and connection with ecology, our environment and the planet we live on,” says Ruairi.
Susie Q and Ruairi are both looking forward to talking about this project at the Get Up and Go Conference in Sligo later this week, which has the theme of ‘Inspiring Contribution — Thinking Outside The Box’. Hosted by Bibi Baskin with “TED-style” talks and 12 inspiring speakers, the two-day event aims to encourage and motivate participants to follow their dreams. The speakers will address topics like entrepreneurship, adventure, artificial intelligence, human consciousness, sport, business for good, well-being and sustainable development.
Now living in Dublin, Susie and Ruairi were part of the organising team that brought the Dalai Lama here in 2011. They are both really into music, share a passion for the whole area of human development, and nature is very important to them.
Susie says Ruairi is the best fun to be around, and they have a laugh dancing to his favourite reggae music in the morning when making porridge. “I genuinely feel like the luckiest woman on the planet to be his wife,” she says. “He treats me like a queen and is full of integrity, humanity and wisdom.
“And I feel Susie is my anam cara — my soulmate,” says Ruairi. “We have great fun together and have each other’s backs through thick and thin. I’m blessed to have found her to share this great adventure that we call life, and it’s not something I take for granted.”
Get Up and Go Conference, Clayton Hotel, Sligo this Friday and Saturday. www.getupandgoevents.com