FiftyTwoWords - "Struggle"

The word ‘Struggle’ was explored at dlr Mill Theatre, Dundrum, Dublin on Thursday the 08th of December 2016.

Dr. Shane Hegarty

‘Life is a beautiful struggle’

UCC Neuroscientist and researcher Dr. Shane Hegarty portrays an academic approach to the concept of 'Struggle'. As a Neuroscientist, he explores the very basis of people to try to define and explain how we experience, create and manage our struggles. Dr. Hegarty explores the impact of struggle on our lives from a biological, psychological and neuro-scientific view-point. He uses the case study of his own life experiences as a Parkinson's researcher to discuss his hypotheses on struggle and what this means to each of us.

Richard Barrett

‘Struggles are necessary and should be embraced’

In this talk Richard Barrett, the Co- founder of both Pundit Arena and One-Zero Sport Tech Conference speaks of the impact struggles have had on his life. His first struggle was a freak accident leaving him wheelchair bound for a number of months. A time where he decided to change career path and make a go of a sports media dream, now known to all of us as Pundit Arena. He presents his experiences of the entrepreneurial struggle in starting out and growing a business. Listen to this fascinating account of how Richard dealt with the withdrawal of Lance Armstrong from the One-Zero Tech conference with less than 24 hours to go. Struggles are what have helped Richard to grow his business. A fantastic account of overcoming struggle and a talk that inspires one and all to overcome our own daily challenges.

Philip Quinlan

‘We’re going to have to make a leap and look at the group struggle’

Philip Quinlan served as an Infantry Captain with the Irish Army and now works as a management consultant with KPMG. Philip presents how our individual struggles are formative in our personal and cultural development. He discusses how struggle can remain personal, even in the midst of wider conflict, citing his overseas experiences in the war torn regions of Kosovo, Uganda and Western Sahara. These personal experiences coupled with his extensive studies in political science and conflict resolution make for a dynamic talk.

Sandra Irwin Gowran

‘Walking down Grafton Street….I felt like I was walking on air’

In this talk, Sandra Irwin Gowran speaks of the profound impact the Gay Marriage referendum has had on her life and the lives of thousands of other lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people across Ireland. However, to get to this day, to say it was a struggle is an understatement. Sandra’s story is an honest and fascinating account of growing up in Ireland under the dominance of the Catholic Church and the constant battle for equality. Sandra shares accounts of coming out at a time when it was illegal to be a practicing homosexual to her battles with breast cancer. This is truly a story of inspiration and courage based around the struggles for LGBT rights in Ireland.

FiftyTwoWords - “Risk”

The word ‘Risk’ was explored at The Sugar Club, Leeson Street, Dublin on Wednesday the 02nd of September 2015.

Feilim Mac An Iomaire

“Taking all of my lifes savings and risking it to get a job was 100% the biggest risk I have ever taken”

In 2011, unemployed commerce graduate Feilim Mac An Iomaire took a risk in a last ditch effort to find work and avoid having to leave Ireland: taking out an advertisement on a billboard. The billboard, which was displayed on Dublin’s Merrion Road for a fortnight at a total cost of €2,000, was Féilim’s last chance of staying in Ireland – but his brave tactic paid off. Less than three weeks after the billboard was unveiled, Feilim began his new job as a communications executive with bookmakers Paddy Power. His story is a positive one but had this risk not have paid off, who knows where Feilim would be today.

Kate McGrew

‘Throughout history, if individuals were more concerned with keeping people comfortable, nothing would have ever changed’

Kate, originally from Ohio in the USA, made Ireland her home on a whim and loves the Irish sense of humour.  Kate is a singer and performer but to pay the rent, she works as a sex worker.  She enjoys her work and feels empowered by it but knows that other people have a very different perception.

Kate’s career choice has many risks. She knew the interview revealing her life as a ‘working girl’ would be published in the newspaper. The interview was a huge risk. How would her family, her friends react? Did she risk destroying the relationships she had with those who loved her most?

Colm Fitzgerald

‘Make friends with risk’

Colm Fitzgerald a lecturer in Financial & Actuarial Mathematics in DCU. He is an actuary and an economist. He was formerly Head of Quantitative Trading in Bank of Ireland Global Markets, and has been trading financial markets from the age of 15. He is managing director of Paragon Research Ltd. He was an author of the Enterprise Risk Management subject of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries and acts as an Examiner and Lead Assessor for a number of their examinations. He has won research contracts with the Society of Actuaries in Ireland and with the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries. Listen to the wise words from Colm as he explores Risk, the meaning of risk and how risks affect us in our daily lives.


Alan Quirke

‘Don’t die wondering’

Alan Quirke a retired Captain in the Irish Defence Forces spent thirteen years working as a bomb disposal officer in places as diverse as the Middle East and Africa.

During non-conflict times, bomb disposal units may be called to investigate and respond to potential terrorist threats such as Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s), often homemade. Bomb disposal officers are responsible for deactivating and analysing explosives in order to ensure the safety of a threatened area. They have a wide variety of tasks all of which are high in Risk. Here Alan Quirke provides his insights into the life of a bomb disposal officer, the dangers and the pressures that co-exist with such a job. He also shares his thoughts on the risks of being an intercounty goalkeeper for the Cork Senior Footballers and juggling family, work and sport all at once.