Muhammad Al-Hussaini

Sheikh Dr Muhammad Al-Hussaini is a second-generation British Muslim who grew up in London the 1970s. He is senior fellow in Islamic Studies at the Westminster Institute and was previously fellow in Islamic Studies at Leo Baeck Rabbinical College, and lecturer in Abrahamic Religions at Al-Azhar College, Al-Azhar Al-Sharif. He was taught to play the fiddle by Karen Ryan and learned Sean Nos singing from such people as Kathleen O Sullivan and from listening to such influences as Iarla Ó Lionáird, Joe Heaney, and the late Waterford singer, Nioclás Tóibín. In 2014 he competed and won as Sean Nós singer in Gaelic Voices.


John Carty

Born in London, fiddle and banjo player John Carty is considered one of Ireland’s finest traditional musicians.  In 2003 he was awarded the coveted title of TG4 Traditional Musician of the Year firmly establishing him among the elite in traditional music. Since moving to Ireland in 1991 he has recorded extensively and performs both as a solo player, in duets notably with Matt Molloy and Brian Rooney and as part of At the Racket and super group Patrick Street. Known for his innovative key changes and subtle variations John’s music is firmly rooted in the North Connaught region where he lives and he is a staunch supporter of its preservation.


Steve Cooney

Australian born guitarist, bassist, producer and didgeridoo player Steve Cooney is one of the most dynamic modern performers in traditional music.
He’s also a fine composer, known mainly for the reel Skidoo which was originally recorded by Stockton’s Wing and since recorded by Sharon Shannon amongst others. He’s a noted songwriter too and his songs have been recorded by artists including Altan and Mary Black.

An Australian of Irish ancestry, Steve Cooney has been living in Ireland for many years. He spent a number of years living in the parish of Moore where he got to know and play with the local musicians, one of those being Maidhc Dainín. One of Ireland’s leading guitarists, he is also a much sought-after and highly regarded producer, having worked with many of the big names in the Irish music industry.

In 1981 he bought a one-way ticket to Ireland where he joined Stockton’s Wing, playing bass guitar and didgeridoo. Since then he has been very active performing and recording with Dermot Byrne, Sharon Shannon, Altan, Martin Hayes, Mary Black, Sliabh Notes, Séamus Begley and many others.

Rita Gallagher

Referred by many as a hidden treasure, RITA GALLAGHER is a native of Ballymacahill, near Frosses in South West Donegal. Influenced by many singers of the area, including the late Paddy Tunney, Rita’s broad repertoire includes many songs of the area.

She is a three-time winner of the Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann All-Ireland title for female singing in English and regularly participates in festivals, workshops, and singing events throughout the country. Rita has also toured throughout Britain, Canada and the U.S. with Comhaltas.

Rita comes from a family of wonderful singers, including both her parents and her siblings. Although she always sang, she only came to traditional singing in her early twenties. She credits the great traditional singer Paddy Tunney among her most significant influences.

Rita’s recordings include The May Morning Dew, a collection of 20 traditional songs in English released in 2010, and her 14-song collection, Easter Snow, recorded in 1997. Her low, beautifully rich voice, eloquent ornamentation and restrained delivery make Rita a compelling and much admired singer.

Henry Glassie

Henry Glassie is College Professor Emeritus at Indiana University. With specializations in folk art and vernacular architecture, oral literature and traditional song, Glassie has written twenty books concerning Ireland, Turkey, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Brazil, and the United States. Three of these have been named Notable Books of the Year by the New York Times.


Glassie has served as the president of the American Folklore Society and the Vernacular Architecture Forum. He has won many awards for his work, including commendation from the ministries of culture of Turkey and Bangladesh, and the Haskins Prize of the American Council of Learned Societies for a distinguished career of humanistic scholarship.


In 1972, Henry Glassie began eleven years of ethnographic work in a place locally known as Ballymenone in County Fermanagh. That work led to five books on Ireland, beginning with All Silver and No Brass in 1976, and ending with The Stars of Ballymenone, republished in a new edition in 2016. His work in folklore, anthropology, and history is recognized to be a unique contribution to understanding the culture of the Irish borderland.

Phil Kearney Byrne

P. Kearney Byrne’s work has appeared in Per Contra Magazine, Compose, The Incubator and other journals in the USA, UK and Ireland. Her awards include the Francis McManus, Bryan McMahon, Words on the Waves and the 2016 Inaugural John McGahern Bursary. She was long-listed in the 2013 Sunday Times EFG Competition and the 2016 Bord Gais Irish Short Story of the Year. Phil has an MA from University College Dublin and is the recipient of a 2017 Irish Arts Council Literature Bursary. She is currently working on a novel and a short story collection.


Paul Lynch

Paul Lynch is the prize-winning author of Grace, The Black Snow and Red Sky in Morning. He was born in Limerick in 1977 and lives in Dublin with his wife and daughter.


His debut novel Red Sky in Morning was a finalist for France’s Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger and was nominated for the Prix du Premier Roman. In the US, it was an Book of the Month and was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, where Lynch was hailed as “a lapidary young master”. It was a book of the year in The Irish Times, The Toronto Star, the Irish Independent and the Sunday Business Post.


His second novel The Black Snow was published in 2014. In France it won the French booksellers’ prize Prix Libr’à Nous for Best Foreign Novel and the inaugural Prix des Lecteurs Privat. It was nominated for the Prix Femina and the Prix du Roman Fnac. It was hailed as “masterful” by The Sunday Times, “fierce and stunning” by The Toronto Star and featured on NPR’s All Things Considered where Alan Cheuse said that Lynch’s writing was found “somewhere between that of Seamus Heaney and Cormac McCarthy”. The American writer Ron Rash has called Lynch “one of his generation’s very finest novelists”.


His new novel Grace was published this year to huge critical acclaim both in the US and at home. The Washington Post hailed the book as “like a hybrid of John Steinback’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ and Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’.” While the New York Times Book Review said that Grace “asks timeless questions about suffering and survival”.

Paschal Mahoney

Paschal Mahoney graduated from University College Dublin in 1987 and began his career with Evans & Shalev Architects, London. In 1990 he was elected a Member of the Royal Institute of Architects Ireland and returned to Dublin to join de Blacam & Meagher Architects as Project Architect for the Samuel Beckett Centre in Trinity College. He worked for Murray O’Laoire Architects based Moscow from 1993 to 2000.


After winning Belfast’s Four Corners architectural design competition, Paschal formed Mahoney Architecture in partnership with his sister, Elaine Mahoney McCabe.


Their buildings have received various awards including Glen Dimplex Award for Lemonstreet Gallery (2000), RIAI awards for Bray Lights (2004) and Raglan Lane Mews (2006), Teagasc Research Facility (2007) and Castleblayney College (2017).

Raglan Lane Mews also won the OPUS Building of the Year award in 2005.


His provocative Trees on the Quays project which proposed to transform the abandoned concrete shell of the intended headquarters for the collapsed Anglo Irish Bank into a Vertical Park was widely published and was exhibited, in conjunction with visual artist Anthony Haughey’s Settlement project, at the Copper House Gallery 2011 and Belfast Exposed 2012.


Paschal was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland in 2015.


His Essay Grim Bastilles of Despair - The Poor Law Union Workhouses in Ireland published by Cork University Press in 2016 as part of the University of Quinnipiac’s award winning Famine Folio series is his first published work.and innovation summer education programme.

Bernadette McAliskey

Born in Cookstown, Tyrone in 1947 Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, is a civil rights activist and former politician. She studied psychology at Queen’s University, Belfast and as a member of the People’s Democracy she participated in the civil rights marches of 1968-69.


In 1969 aged 21, she was the youngest person to be elected to Westminster as an Independent Unity member for Mid-Ulster. She was suspended from parliament in 1972 for attacking Home Secretary Reginald Maudling over Bloody Sunday. She lost her seat in 1974 but remained politically active, serving on the National Executive of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) in 1975.

She continues to campaign for the rights of those marginalised and is currently director of South Tyrone Empowerment Programme (STEP) - a not for profit community development organisation based in Dungannon. STEP’s projects range from small group development to large partnership projects and trans-national networks which aim to contribute to building a rights based, participative, peaceful and prosperous society providing equality of access and opportunity, embracing diversity and respecting difference.

Eugene McCabe

Considered to be a master storyteller and dramatist, Eugene McCabe was born in Glasgow in 1930 to Irish parents. His family returned to Clones in Monaghan in the early forties where he now lives. In the early seventies, he wrote what is probably regarded as his most famous set of works, a trilogy of television plays on the differing traditions in Northern Ireland. The trilogy, broadcast by RTÉ Television in 1973 was titled Victims and consisted of Cancer, Heritage' and Siege. Cancer won the Writers' Award in Prague and second prize in the Prix Italia.

His 1992 novel Death and Nightingales set in 1883, has become something of a contemporary classic. He has received many awards for his work including the Irish Life Theatre Award in 1964 for King of the Castle which was first produced that year by the Dublin Theatre Festival; the Legum Doctorate from University of Prince Edward Island, Canada 1990 and the Butler Literary Award for Prose from Irish American Cultural Institute in 2002. From the American/Irish Ireland Funds, he received the 2006 AWB Vincent Literary Award.

His short fiction includes the novella and stories Victims: A Tale from Fermanagh (London, Gollancz/Cork, Mercier, 1976); Heritage and Other Stories'(Gollancz, 1978); Christ in the Fields', A Fermanagh Trilogy (London, Minerva, 1993); Tales from the Poor House (Oldcastle, The Gallery Press, 1999); Heaven Lies about Us (London, Cape, 2005) and The Love of Sisters (The New Island Press, 2009). 


Druid Theatre will present King of the Castle at the Town Hall, Galway from 29 September to 7 October and at the Gaiety Theatre as part of Dublin Theatre Festival from 11 - 15 October.

Pat McCabe

Patrick McCabe was born in Clones, County Monaghan in 1955 and is widely known for his mostly dark and violent novels set in contemporary, often small-town, Ireland. His books include The Butcher Boy (1992) and Breakfast on Pluto (1998), both shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He has also written a children's book (The Adventures of Shay Mouse) and a collection of linked short stories, Mondo Desperado, published in 1999, and several radio plays broadcast by the RTÉ and the BBC Radio 4.


The Butcher Boy and Breakfast on Pluto have both been adapted into films by Irish director Neil Jordan. The play Frank Pig Says Hello, which he adapted from The Butcher Boy, was first performed at the Dublin Theatre Festival in 1992. Emerald Germs of Ireland (2001), is a black comedy featuring matricide Pat McNab and his attempts to fend off nosy neighbours and Winterwood, published in 2006, was named the 2007 Hughes & Hughes/Irish Independent Irish Novel of the Year.

He is currently performing his Analogue Monologue series on Irish Writers, including Dermot Healy and Patrick Kavanagh.

Mick Mulvey

Mick Mulvey is an East End Londoner now living in Leitrim and one of the best exponents of north Connacht flute playing you’re likely to hear. Early exposure to the playing of Seamus Tansey and Matt Molloy intrigued the young Mick, and their influences can be heard in his warm, rolling style.

Though largely self-taught, tips and advice came to him from all quarters; Brendan Mulkere, Brian Rooney, Bobby Casey and Raymond Roland, all friends of his father, with whom he played regular sessions in Camden Town and Shepherds Bush while still at school. 

Meanwhile, among the his own generation in the East End - Mick and Joe Searson, The Cartys, Kevin Shanahan, the Hayes Brothers and many more - he shared enthusiasm and energy as they pushed the boundaries and created for themselves a continuing and lasting niche in the music and in the Irish community in London as a whole.

It was annual holidays spent at his father's home in Lisgarney outside Jamestown, however, that forged a strong affinity for him with the music and musicians of that part of Co Leitrim.  He credits an in-law of his father, John Daly, as a major influence on his music, and he describes him as "an all-round musician, singer, poet, craftsman, wit and raconteur; a mighty man.” 

He has the fondest memories of sessions with Packie Duignan and Mick Woods around Carrick and Drumshambo, and Monday nights in the Butcher's in Drumsna. But he puts the whole thing in perspective when he says, "I have been stone mad on the Leitrim style of flute playing since I first heard John McKenna recordings...McKenna's style is just superb.” 

Gaia Narciso

Gaia Narciso is Associate Professor at the Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin. After gaining her MSc in Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science, she started her PhD in Economics at Bocconi University, Milan. During her PhD she worked as a consultant for the Development Research Group at the World Bank in Washington DC. Gaia joined the Department of Economics at Trinity College Dublin in 2007, soon after completing her PhD. Her fields of research are Political Economy, Development Economics, and Migration. Her research has been widely cited and featured in international media. In particular, her study on the Sicilian mafia has informed the policy debate in Italy. She has successfully attracted international and national funding. She has extensive experience in survey design and implementation and has conducted field experiments in Ireland and abroad. She is currently the Director of the Trinity Impact Evaluation Unit (TIME). Her most recent project, funded by the Irish Research Council and by Trinity College Dublin, investigates the consequences of the Great Irish Famine in a long-run perspective.

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin was born in Cork City in 1942, educated there and at Oxford before spending her working life as an academic in Trinity College, Dublin. She was a founder member of Cyphers, a literary journal. She has won the Patrick Kavanagh Award, the Irish Times Award for Poetry, the O’Shaughnessy Award of the Irish-American Cultural Institute which called her “among the very best poets of her generation”, and the International Griffin Poetry Prize.

Her collections include Acts and Monuments (1972, winner of the 1973 Patrick Kavanagh Award), Site of Ambush (1975), The Second Voyage (1977, 1986), The Rose Geranium (1981), The Magdalene Sermon (1989) which was shortlisted for the Irish Times/Aer Lingus Award, The Brazen Serpent (1994), The Girl Who Married the Reindeer (2001), Selected Poems (2008) and Legend of the Walled-up Wife (translations from the Romanian of Ileana Malancioiu, 2011). The Boys of Bluehill (2015) is her first collection since The Sun-fish which won the 2010 Griffin International Poetry Prize and was also a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin is a Fellow and Professor of English (Emerita) at Trinity College, Dublin and a member of Aosdána.  She was appointed as Ireland Professor of Poetry in 2016. She is married to Macdara Woods and they have a son, Niall.

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill was born in 1952 and grew up in the Irish-speaking areas of West Kerry and in Tipperary. She studied English and Irish at University College, Cork in 1969 and became part of a group of Irish language poets who were published in the literary magazine Innti. She now lives in Dublin.

She has published four collections of poems in Irish, An Dealg Droighin (1981), Féar Suaithinseach (1984), Feis (1991) and Cead Aighnis (1998). The Gallery Press has published four collections of her poems, with translations into English, Pharoah’s Daughter (translations by thirteen writers, 1990), The Astrakhan Cloak (translations by Paul Muldoon, 1992), The Water Horse (translations by Medbh McGuckian and Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, 1999) and The Fifty Minute Mermaid (translations by Paul Muldoon, 2007).

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill held the Heimbold Chair in Irish Studies at Villanova University in 2001 and has taught at Boston College and New York University. She has received many scholarships, prizes, and bursaries and has also won numerous international awards for works which have been translated into French, German, Polish, Italian, Norwegian, Estonian, Turkish, Japanese and English.

She is a member of Aosdána and was Ireland Professor of Poetry (2001-2004) and the first Professor of Irish (language) Poetry.

Mick O'Grady

Mick O’Grady is a singer and fiddle player from Dowra, Co. Leitrim. He moved to Ballaghaderreen on the Roscommon/Mayo border as a child and grew up listening to the likes of Fred Finn and Pack Spellman. He has lived in London and in various locations all over America.


Mick released a CD of songs in 2009 entitled The Long Distance Kid and released a CD together with Jesse Smith and John Blake in 2013 entitled At My Grandmother’s Knee And Other Such Joints.

Deirdre O'Mahony

Deirdre O’Mahony’s research and practice is grounded in engagement with different publics and communities. She completed her PhD New Ecologies Between Rural Life and Visual Culture in the West of Ireland: History, Context, Position, and Art Practice at the University of Brighton in 2012. In 2007 she revived a defunct rural post-office as a public space, X-PO, to reflect the complex social, psychological, economic and natural issues affecting rural life and landscapes. Animated by a process of collaborative exhibition-making and the co-creation of artworks, X-PO made visible invisible histories, unconscious projections and expectations underlying place-based attachments. The project was included in Modern Ireland in 100 Artworks and in Tania Bruguera’s Arte Útil Archive.

Subsequent research has reflected on the relevance of tacit, place-based knowledge. SPUD examines ideas of sustainability, food security and rural/urban relationships, through potato projects in Ireland, USA, Spain and the UK, most recently The Village Plot at the Irish Museum of Modern Art as part of the Grizedale Arts research residency A Fair Land. A new film, The Persistent Return received an Arts Council Project award to conclude SPUD.

O’Mahony has published and been written about extensively, had numerous national and international gallery and museum exhibitions, and been awarded fellowships and residencies including a Pollock-Krasner Award and Arts Council of Ireland bursaries. She is also an academic and lecturer at the Centre for Creative Arts and Media, GMIT, Galway.

Karen Ryan

Born in London to Galway and Mayo parents, Karen Ryan started playing music at the age of nine, taught by the North Leitrim musician Tommy Maguire at the London Irish Centre, where she herself now teaches.

Karen honed her musical skills through playing with a vast array of musicians in the London Irish scene and notes Bryan Rooney, Brendan McGlinchey, Danny Meehan and the recordings of Andy McGann as having the most influence on her fiddle playing.

As a founder member of the renowned London Lasses, Karen has performed at some of the world’s most prestigious festivals and events, including Dublin City Hall, Cambridge Folk Festival, the Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Ennis Trad Festival, Glastonbury, Philadelphia Irish Festival and the Royal Albert Hall, where the band performed the first ever BBC Proms Céili in 2008 and supported The Chieftains on their 50th Anniversary tour.

Karen is Director of the Return to Camden Town festival of traditional Irish music, song and dance. Now in its nineteenth year, the festival has become a key date in the Irish music calendar and celebrates the historical link between Camden and traditional Irish music. In 2011 Karen was given the Mayor of Camden's 'Unsung Heroes Award' for services to music in the borough.

In 2013 Karen was awarded 'Female Musician of the Year' by Chicago Irish American News and 'Instrumental Album of the Year' by Live Ireland. In 2014 she was award a 'Bliain na Cruinne' Award by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann for teaching and other services to Irish culture overseas.

Karen has released two new albums in 2017: From Camden to Tulla with East Clare accordionist, Andrew Mac Namara and her husband, pianist, Pete Quinn - and Wild Winds with her new quartet Artisan Row.

Sarah Searson

Sarah Searson is a curator and cultural consultant and is director at The Dock. Prior to this she was inaugural Head of the Centre for Creative Arts and Media (CCAM) at GMIT, where she led academic programmes in Fine Art, Film and Textiles. She has worked with statutory agencies, local government organisations to form policy and long-term development initiatives for local authorities such as Dublin City and Galway City Councils, her clients have included The Grangegorman Development Agency, The Arts Council, and Waterford Healing Arts Trust.

She is a graduate of Cultural Policy and Arts Management (UCD) & Public Culture Studies (IADT) and Fine Art (DIT). She has led several significant arts and cultural initiatives; including, a communication tool to support public art commissioning and was an adviser to Arts and As Arts Officer with Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council she delivered two major capital projects, Dance Theatre of Ireland and The Pavilion Theatre.

Vincent Woods

Vincent Woods’s plays include At the Black Pig’s Dyke (Druid Theatre Company, 1992); Song of the Yellow Bittern (Druid Theatre Company, 1994); and A Cry from Heaven (Abbey Theatre, 2005); and for radio, The Leitrim Hotel, The Gospels of Aughamore and Broken Moon. Poetry collections are The Colour of Language and Lives and Miracles. He has co-edited The Turning Wave: Poems and Songs of Irish Australia, and Fermata: Writings Inspired by Music (with Eva Bourke); and in 2016 published Leaves of Hungry Grass: Poetry and Ireland’s Great Hunger (Quinnipiac University Press). Awards include the Stewart Parker Award for Drama and The Ted McNulty Award for Poetry. For many years he has been a regular presenter of arts programmes and documentaries on RTÉ Radio 1. He is a member of Aosdána.