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Love and Courage
57 minutes | a month ago
Noelle Brown - Actor, Playwright, Campaigner on Mother and Baby Homes
Noelle Brown is a well-known Irish actor, playwright, and activist. Noelle was born in the Bessborough Mother and Baby Home in Cork and much of our conversation centres around her campaign work to advance the rights and voices of Mother and Baby home survivors. Mother and Baby Homes were institutions mostly run by the Catholic church where pregnant women who were unmarried were sent to have their babies. These institutions were established in 1922, the same time as the foundation of the state, and the last one didn’t close until as recently as 1998. In that time, tens of thousands of women were sent to these institutions. Many of the women, incarcerated against their will in often cold and cruel conditions, were under the age of 18. Some were as young as 12. Some were the victims of rape. The Irish state, which in many ways modelled itself as a catholic state, had the world’s highest proportion of women sent to such institutions in the 20th century. At the heart of this regime was a dominant moral and religious code which deemed these women to be somehow impure and lesser, and their children, for some reason, were to be seen as illegitimate, despite the creed that we’re all God’s children. It is estimated that 15% of babies born in these homes died. At one point an inspection of the Bessborough home revealed a 82% infant mortality rate. These children were often buried in unmarked mass graves such as that discovered in Tuam, Co. Galway. One of those buried there was a relative of mine by the name of Peter Malone, someone my family only recently found out about thanks to the campaigning of historian Catherine Corless. Large numbers of children were sold to foreign couples, often in secret deals and against their parents’ wishes. Many of those born in the homes are unable to access their birth certificates, despite years of trying. Many, like Noelle, never got to meet their birth parents, and were often blocked by the authorities and the relevant institutions from doing so. Another guest on this podcast, Joseph Farrell, talks about his story in a previous episode that is worth checking out. At the time of recording this episode Noelle was fresh from running a powerful St Patrick’s Day production at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin called Home where the testimonies of survivors were given voice on the stage of the national theatre. This was in the wake of a controversial report from the Mother and Baby Home commission. Noelle is a hugely important voice on all of this and brings great depth, passion, insight and humanity to her work and her activism. We also talk about her life as an actor and a playwright.
57 minutes | 2 months ago
Tony Griffin - Writer, Charity founder, Former Sports Star
Tony Griffin is a writer, speaker, co-founder of the Soar Foundation which does amazing youth empowerment work throughout Ireland, and he’s a former sports star who played hurling for his native County Clare and he is the recipient of a prestigious all-star award. I talk to Tony on the day his new book The Teenagers Book of Life is released into the world and we explore his own childhood, his days playing for Clare, his charity cycle across Canada, his views on what it means to live a good life, and so much more. Video version of this conversation available on YouTube.
24 minutes | 2 months ago
Syrian refugee campaign and life during lockdown - My interview on the United Ireland podcast
This is a crosspost of an interview I did on Una Mullally and Andrea Horan's United Ireland podcast. In it, I talk about a campaign I lead concerning Syrian refugees in Longford and other topics such as life during lockdown.
56 minutes | 3 months ago
Michael McCaughan - Writer
Michael McCaughan is a former Irish Times Latin America correspondent and has spent three decades working and writing in places like Mexico, Cuba and Colombia. He’s the author of several books and his most recent book Coming Home explores his journey to reconnect with the Irish language.
58 minutes | 5 months ago
Fr Peter McVerry - renowned homelessness campaigner
My guest in this epsisode is Fr Peter McVerry, a Belfast born Jesuit priest who grew up in Newry, County Down before moving to Dublin. After his ordination in 1975 he lived and worked in summerhill in North Dublin and came face to face with homelessness, poverty and deprivation. He went on to set up a trust to help struggling young people, including those facing addiction. This work started life in a 3 bedroom apartment in Ballymun and later became the Peter McVerry Trust which grew to include hostels, apartments, a detox centre and other services for people affected by addiction and homelessness. It is now one of the largest and most important organisations of its kind in Ireland. Fr McVerry has consistently been one of the most outspoken critics of government policy on housing and homelessness and is one of Ireland’s most respected campaigners and activists, a man who is very much walking his talk. It was great to get the time with Peter over Zoom and you can see the video version of this episode over on the Love and Courage YouTube channel or on my Facebook page, just look up Ruairi McKiernan – Hitching for Hope.
64 minutes | 6 months ago
Bronagh Gallagher - Renowned actress, singer, songwriter
Bronagh Gallagher is one of Ireland’s best-known actors and musicians. Originally from Derry city, she famously starred in the classic Irish movie the Commitments and has had roles in films such as Pulp Fiction, Star Wars and Sherlock Holmes, in numerous TV shows including Holby City and Moone Boy, and in stage in productions such as War Horse. A prolific singer, songwriter and musician, she has several albums to her name and has collaborated with the likes of Brian Eno. Thanks to all Love and Courage podcast patrons for supporting this episode. You can support over at www.loveandcourage.org. Please share this episode if you like it.
54 minutes | 7 months ago
John Connell - author, journalist, playwright, film producer
John Connell is an award-winning Irish author, playwright, journalist, and film producer. A native of County Longford in the midlands, John is from a rural farming background, something that has greatly influenced his work and thinking, as you'll hear in this conversation. John spent several years living and working in Australia where he was a university lecturer, the founder of a media production company, and an investigative journalist. His last book, the Cow Book (called the Farmers Son in the US) was a number 1 bestseller and spent over 6 months in the charts. At the time of speaking to him John was busy working on his first TV drama, featuring BAFTA winner Stephen Rae, while preparing for the release of his new book The Running Book, which you're about to hear more about.
73 minutes | 9 months ago
Easkey Britton - surfer, scientist, author & film-maker
Easkey Britton is a scientist, surfer, writer, artist and film-maker with a PhD in Environment and Society. Her work explores the relationship between people and nature, especially the sea. A life-long surfer, her parents taught her to surf when she was four years old and she channels her passion for surfing and the sea into social change. Her work is deeply influenced by the ocean and the lessons learned pioneering women’s big-wave surfing in Ireland and introducing the sport of surfing to women in Iran, which led her to be invited to give an inspiring TEDx talk: Just Add Surf. Passionate about facilitating creative & collaborative processes, she founded Like Water, a platform to explore innovative ways to reconnect people and nature, especially through water and she also designs and organizes a variety of leadership retreats, summits and programmes, including the annual wavemaker retreat in Portugal. Easkey currently lives in County Mayo on the west coast of Ireland and is working on her next book after just finishing her memoir, which we talk about in this conversation.
54 minutes | 10 months ago
Ibrahim Halawa - Finding hope after 4 years in an Egyptian Prison
Ibrahim Halawa is a 25-year-old law student from Tallaght in Dublin, Ireland. Between the ages of 17 and 21 he was wrongfully imprisoned in an Egyptian prison after being arrested during a visit to Cairo in 2013. The trip coincided with pro-democracy protests which had swept the country and led to hundreds of civilians being killed by the forces of the military-led government of General el-Sisi. I was involved in campaigning to free Ibrahim from prison and it was great to finally get the chance to talk with him about his experiences, his insights, and his incredible story. I hope you enjoy this conversation with Ibrahim Halawa.
53 minutes | a year ago
Mary Reynolds - Environmentalist, Author, Activist
Mary Reynolds is an Irish author, former landscape designer and nature activist, known for being the youngest contestant to win a gold medal at the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show. She became highly sought after in the world of garden design but later gave it up to explore new ways of looking at life and work in relation to ecology. A film inspired by her story was released in 2015 and in 2016 her book The Garden Awakening was published. Her work has attracted praise by Jane Goodall and other major figures. More recently Mary is the founder of the We Are The Ark movement which promotes rewilding land by returning gardens to nature in order to increase biodiversity.
22 minutes | a year ago
'Make life beautiful' - an interview with Ruairí
Ruairí McKiernan interview with Dave Fanning on RTÉ 2fm
77 minutes | a year ago
Andrew Boyd - trailblazing author, humorist & campaigner
Andrew Boyd is an American author, humorist and veteran of creative campaigns for social change. He led the decade-long satirical media campaign Billionaires for Bush. He co-founded Agit-Pop Communications, an award-winning “subvertising” agency, as well as the netroots social justice movement The Other 98%. He's the author of four books: Beautiful Trouble, Daily Afflictions, Life’s Little Deconstruction Book and the Activist Cookbook, and the forthcoming I Want a Better Catastrophe: Hope, Hopelessness and Climate Reality. He lives in New York City.
13 minutes | a year ago
Hope and healing in troubled times
A short interviewed with podcast host Ruairí McKiernan recorded on the Today FM Last Word show with Matt Cooper. Discussing community, connection, resilience and hope in the context of the release of Ruairí's book Hitching for Hope - a Journey into the Heart and Soul of Ireland. www.hitchingforhope.com
62 minutes | a year ago
Joe Farrell - from Irish mother & baby home to New York playwright
Joe Farrell on the Love and Courage podcast. Joe Farrell was born in an Irish mother and baby home in Ireland in 1960 where he lived with his mother who had been sent there as an unmarried mother. He lived there for the first 2 years of his life before being adopted by an Irish American family and brought to the United States. This is the remarkable story of his life and his quest for identity, understanding, and peace. Joe is a writer who supports his work by working in the New York city restaurant business. His forthcoming play is about his time as a student in an all-boys Jesuit High School. It is titled ‘Now, and At The Hour’. He also has another upcoming stage play titled ‘The Original’ about his search for an original photo of his birth mother and subsequent discovery and meeting of her surviving nephews and nieces in County Clare and London.
64 minutes | a year ago
Tom Prendergast - artist, DJ, ex record label owner
Limerick man Tom Prendergast is an artist, a DJ, a former record store owner, former successful record label co-founder, a passionate community volunteer and so much more.
23 minutes | a year ago
A story and a song
A few words of reflection followed by a special song. Find links to the song and video by Susan Quirke, newsletter links, donation info etc. via this link: http://linktr.ee/ruairi
75 minutes | a year ago
Dearbhla Glynn - Documentary Filmmaker, Photojournalist, Yoga Teacher
Love and Courage podcast with Ruairí McKiernan. Originally from County Cork, Dearbhla Glynn is a multi-award winning documentary filmmaker, photo-journalist, artist, writer and yoga teacher. Her films explore themes of culture, human rights and conflict and have seen her travel to conflict zones around the world including Palestine, DR Congo, Iraq, and Haiti and she has also made films based around the Burning Man festival in Nevada and the Festival in the Desert in Malai. In recent times she has been focusing more on her work as an advanced yoga teacher although at the time of recording this podcast she wasn’t long home from a trip to the Greek island of Lesbos, where people from Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere remain stranded in search of sanctuary. Our conversation explores Dearbhla’s fascinating life journey and I found it really insightful and inspiring to hear how she first found her path and has stayed true to it since. I do want to mention that part of Dearbhla’s work has involved looking at the theme of trauma and in the part of our conversation about Eastern Congo she talks about the devastating reality surrounding sexual violence there. Overall Dearbhla’s story is one of shining a light on the darkness and it’s one I hope many people get to hear.
71 minutes | 2 years ago
Mari Kennedy - Meditation, Yoga, & Wisdom Teacher
Originally from Sligo in the north-west of Ireland, Mari is an organisational wellbeing and leadership consultant, an integral facilitator, a mindfulness and meditation teacher, a social entrepreneur, a yoga teacher, and I might add she’s quite a stunning singer too. Mari has worked with former President of Ireland Mary McAleese, with leading companies such as Microsoft and Ernst And Young, and more recently she launched the Celtic Wheel – Radical Wisdom for Contemporary Women, a year-long online programme that has attracted huge interest from women from around the world. www.thecelticwheel.com
79 minutes | 2 years ago
Luka Bloom - folk singer
Luka Bloom is one of Ireland’s best known and most respected contemporary folk artists. Originally from County Kildare, Luka Bloom has been singing and performing since the age of 14. He released his debut album Treaty Stone in 1978 and soon after moved to the Netherlands, where he remains hugely popular. He also previously lived in Washington DC and in New York, where he was signed by Reprise records, the iconic label that signed Tom Petty, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac and so many other greats. Over 20 albums on, Luka Bloom is living not to far from me on the west coast of County Clare while continuing to tour the world. His brother is the folk musician and previous guest of this podcast Christy Moore and his sister Anne Rynne is also a singer, songwriter and musician. I’ve seen Luka perform a number of times now and have always been struck by his unique sound and a real sense of social and ecological consciousness that ripples through his songs.
68 minutes | 2 years ago
Peggy Seeger - legendary folk singer & activist
At the time of this interview, the 84-year-old folk singer is still songwriting, touring, entertaining, informing, educating and inspiring as part of the great folk tradition that she embodies so well. Born in 1935 to a folklorist and musicologist father and a mother who was an accomplished composer and music scholar, Peggy has lived her life surrounded by music and the great folk tradition. She learned to transcribe music at just 11 years old and the likes of Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly were visitors to her childhood home in Washington DC. Her brother was the world-renowned singer and activist Pete Seeger who was famously attacked under the 1950s era of McCarthyism that fostered the so-called ‘red scare’ by the U.S government of the time. Peggy has been on the road from a young age, hitchhiking around Europe at age 20, and being invited to perform in places like Russia, China and Denmark in her youth. In 1956 London, at the age of 21, she met her future husband, the legendary folk musician Ewan MacColl and they played a leading role in the British folk revival. The classic song The First Time Ever I saw Your Face was written by Ewan for Peggy.The pair remained together for over 30 years, until MacColl’s death in 1989. In the period that followed, Peggy found love again and formed a civil partnership with Belfast-born New Zealand based singer Irene Pyper Scott and they have been a couple ever since. Peggy plays 5-string banjo, guitar, Appalachian dulcimer, autoharp, English concertina and piano. She has written several hundred songs, covering everything from drugs, to war, hormones, politicians, unions, women, love and ecology. Perhaps her best-known songs include Gonna Be an Engineer (which has become one of the anthems of the women's' movement) and The Ballad of Springhill (about the 1958 Springhill, Nova Scotia, mining disaster, a song famously sung here in Ireland by Luke Kelly. 149 of her songs appear in her songbook, The Peggy Seeger Songbook, Warts and All. Overall, Peggy has made 24 solo records and collaborated with Ewan MacColl and others on countless more. She tells her fascinating life story in her award-winning memoir ‘First Time Ever’ published by Faber and Faber. Peggy is a mother of 3 and grandmother of 9. Now 84, she is still living in England, writing songs and performing. She often plays alongside one of her two sons, Neill and Calum MacColl, who have been playing music with her since their teens. Her daughter Kitty, a graphic designer creates the artwork for her albums. Her daughter-in-law, co-founder of Red Grape Music, Kerry Harvey-Piper, is her manager. Her other daughter-in-law is the musician and member of Dream Academy, Kate St. John, with whom she co-wrote a track on her most recent album, ‘Everything Changes’.
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