Next Dublin speaker

Andrea Horan

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April 27, 8:30am • The Tara Building • part of a series on Game

Andrea Horan is a powerhouse. She’s the CEO of Tropical Popical, and founder of The Hunreal Issues, and our speaker for #CMGame

The Hunreal Issues came about after the 2015 referendum when Andrea wanted to engage women in politics in a way that appealed to her and her friends. She wanted to engage and educate them in a fun way, and The Hunreal Issues is perhaps most famous for Maser’s Repeal the 8th mural on the wall of the Project Arts Centre in Temple Bar.

So, Specky Scribbler spoke with Andrea to ask her about the power of art in politics, and how the creative scene in Dublin helps promote human rights.

Given that the past 2 weeks saw the both the reemergence and removal of Maser’s mural, it seemed fitting to ask Andrea what she thought that meant for the repeal movement.

‘I think it’s a positive thing. The amount of media that were present at the removal was huge. We had TV channels, newspaper journalists, loads of people recording for social media. There’s so much coverage had now, that it’s bringing awareness to it.’

For Andrea, art was a really powerful platform for political engagement,

‘Art provides a platform for people who don’t have a voice. Everyone engages in a different way, and some people engage with art. For others, art is an extra platform, a platform that’s visual. Art is playing a key role in getting the message out there - more people are buying and wearing t-shirts, they’re mobilised and galvanised, all because of art - a mural on a wall.’

For Andrea, she only has one game in mind: spending the next 4.5 weeks to get the issue of women’s rights in people’s minds and pushing for the repeal of the 8th amendment.

Specky Scribbler wants to introduce you to: Fiona Ni Bhroin, our valued member. 

Fiona Ni Bhroin was our live illustrator for a number of the CreativeMornings/Dublin events.

Fiona runs FioFioDesigns as an artist, illustrator and graphic designer. She’s always been a creative person: drawing, painting, designing, writing stories, recording music, taking photos, baking, sewing. Pretty much everything that has to do with making something.

Fiona is, once again a member of The Tara Building, and she wanted to try out live illustration or graphic recording. However, she did find that she preferred to take her time and so the illustrations were only finished the next week.

This because Fiona believes in the ‘do what you love’ idea and it allows her to jump from project to project, because she loves them all, and doesn’t like to define what it is that she does.

Fiona loves the events and also loves the sense of community and meeting other like minded people. Her creativity has grown since becoming involved in the community.

Her favourite speaker? Caroline Foran’s take on #CMGenius, when she outlined her life with anxiety.

It’s my turn now. This is Specky Scribbler writing. Or, as I like to be called offline: Michelle.

I’m a full time freelance copywriter. This means that I tell and sell the story of your business. I specialise in content for online, ranging from social media posts, blogs and website pages. I first joined The Tara Building in April 2017, when I decided to bite the bullet and work for myself.

That’s how I found out about CreativeMornings, when in June I found out that Will St Leger was giving a talk and I had to go.

For the next event, Aiden needed someone to live tweet it, and I agreed. I didn’t think it would lead to me being the head of social and resident blogger for CM/Dublin, but here I am.

I love being involved in CreativeMornings/Dublin. I think the events are great for people in the creative world in Dublin, and are definitely needed. Apart from getting great coffee and breakfast while listening to wonderful people speak, the events are great for getting to know people in the creative industry.

My favourite speaker was Will St Leger, I left his speech moved to tears and wished I could experience it again.

My favourite musicians were Pine the Pilcrow. Their music was the perfect accompaniment to Donal Moloney’s talk about Death; completely melodic, haunting and relaxing.

If you want, you can follow me:

CreativeMornings/Dublin is run by Aiden McGale, who spends a lot of time working behind the scenes to ensure everything runs smoothly for each event. Now it’s his time to shine in this interview with our resident blogger, Specky Scribbler.

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Aiden not only hosts CM/Dublin, but he also runs a boutique recruitment agency called Affinity Recruitment. This agency headhunts designers for companies in Ireland, and all over Europe.

In June 2017, Aiden took over CreativeMornings/Dublin from Brian Colhoun. He now curates and hosts each event with, as he says, ‘lots of help from an amazing bunch of people who give up their time and skills every month’.

Aiden feels he has big boots to fill because Brian not only ran the events for a few yeats, but he was the one who brought CreativeMornings to Dublin in the first place! Even still, Aiden jumped in when he heard that Brian was looking for something to take over from him!

The reasons Aiden did this were twofold:

‘I love the concept and CreativeMornings felt different to other meetups happening around town. … I work with designers everyday and wanted to be more actively involved in the creative community in Dublin, and having just moved my business into the Tara Building, it felt like the right timing and perfect home for CreativeMornings/Dublin.’

Given that Aiden is behind choosing the speakers for each event, it’s incredibly difficult for him to choose his favourite. He did it, though! 

His favourite speaker was Will St Leger, someone who has committed his life to art and activism and because, ‘his talk is something that has stuck with me, not least because he did the whole thing without any notes!’

Aiden also introduced music to the events this year, and his favourite musician was actually the first musician he’d had, Jackie Hennessy.

‘It was the first time we’d opened an event with music, The Tara Building was flooded with morning sunshine and Jackie’s beautiful voice just filled up the room’.

It was this that lead CreativeMornings/Dublin to having musicians open the events ever since.

Meet the team: Lassi Valkonen!


Our resident blogger, Specky Scribbler, has been chatting to the members of the CM/Dublin team to introduce them to you, and let you know who’s who in the community. This time, she met with Lassi Valkonen to chat to him about what it is he does.

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Lassi is CM/Dublin’s resident videographer. You’ll see him at the back of the room manning a tripod and DSLR camera. However, not only does Lassi film each event in Dublin, he edits the footage and passes it onto us. That way, people who miss the talk get the chance to see it in full on the CreativeMornings/Dublin website.

When Lassi moved to Dublin and started his own business here, he brought with him 6 years of agency experience at a UK-based market research company. That agency specialised in video content, and while he has a wide skill set, his main client focus is on video production and web development.

Like pretty much everyone else on our team, Lassi is a member of The Tara Building co-working community, and it’s that sense of camaraderie that got him involved in CreativeMornings. To support an event such as CreativeMornings is hugely important to Lassi and it allows the space to open itself up to the wider Dublin community once a month.

For Lassi, getting involved in the events was a great way for him to attend inspiring talks and embark in some casual networking. But, as he also points out: ‘The lure of delicious coffee and breakfast pastries was definitely a major selling point!’

Jennie McGinn was our speaker for ‘Pioneer’ and Lassi found her talk to be very inspirational. He found that she connected creative practice with entrepreneurship seamlessly, something that Lassi feels creative people can struggle with.

“Creative types can often focus too much on their own work at the expense of practical business sense, so it’s always great to hear sound advice from someone who has gone through the rigmarole of pitching rounds, funding applications and failed business ventures.”

In 2017, we began asking musicians to perform at the start of our events, and for Lassi, this can been a way for him to effortlessly discover new Irish artists. Pine the Pilcrow performed as part of the #CMDeath talk and Lassi loved ‘the brooding tone of their music, with hints of a folk/trad influence’. They were his favourite act of 2017.

If you want to see some of Lassi’s work you can find him at:

Following on from our feature of one of our photographers, Nathalie, next up is Eoin Dixon Murphy, Tara’s resident DJ EDM.

Eoin is, in his own words, ‘the unqualified but over eager sound engineer’ for CreativeMornings/Dublin. 

He’s responsible for turning on the microphone, making sure the speakers are hooked up and everyone can hear. He’s not chained to the sound desk though; he loves the Coffeeangel coffee and the breakfast just as much as everyone else!

By day, Eoin is an entrepreneur. He’s the founder and creative director of two Dublin-based digital agencies: Castle33 and Craft Digital. He’s got other side projects, too. His '5-bullet Friday’ blog posts are something we would definitely recommend checking out. Each week, Eoin lists 5 things that tickled his fancy that week, from quotes to movies and music. You never know what you might discover.

Eoin loved the content of CreativeMornings, and really enjoyed the events and the type of people I met at them. When the organiser, Aiden, mentioned in passing that we were having issues sourcing sound equipment, Eoin stepped in. It turns out he had his own sound system and offered to bring it in, set it up and muck in for the events.

He’s been twiddling the dials and looking busy at the events ever since!

Eoin is a huge advocate for mental health, and I was delighted to meet Caroline Foran after #CMGenius. He’d just finished her book, Owning It: Your Bullsh*t-Free Guide to Living with Anxiety a few weeks before the event. He was struck by her honesty, realness and intelligence.

Brian the Lion stepped up to the microphone before Roisin Agnew talked about Compassion, and that was Eoin’s favourite musician of the year. As he put it, 'great guy and great voice!’

Eoin loves social media, so I’m sure he wouldn’t mind you connecting with him:

As you may, or may not know, everything we do here at CreativeMornings/Dublin is done voluntarily. That’s why we are so grateful for our global sponsors - Adobe, Mail Chimp and WordPress - and our local sponsors, The Tara Building, Intercom, and Coffeeangel. Without our sponsors and our volunteers, we couldn’t make these events happen.

So, as a way to thank our CreativeMornings/Dublin team - we’re going to feature them and introduce them to you all properly. Starting off with our photographer, Nathalie Marquez Courtney.

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Nathalie is a photographer and writer who splits her time three ways: shooting lifestyle and travel content for print publications and brands, as Business and Tech Editor of Image Magazine and writing features for other Irish newspapers and magazines.

Really - is there anything she can’t do??

Luckily for us, Nathalie has been capturing the CM/Dublin events through photography. In her words, she’s ‘snapping everything from speakers and performers to the tasty snacks and lovely Tara Building details that make the events as special as they are.’

Nathalie is a member of the Tara community, the coworking space that has hosted our last 6 events. She got involved simply by chatting to the CM/Dublin organiser, Aiden, in the kitchen. She is a huge fan of CreativeMornings, so she was delighted when she was asked to document the events.

If you want to have a look at how she sees the CreativeMornings/Dublin events, check out these albums on Flickr: #CMSurvival, #CMEquality, #CMGenius and #CMDeath.   

We don’t like to just ask easy questions of our team members, though. So we asked Nathalie who her favourite speaker of 2017 was.

‘So hard to pick! I found Will St Leger’s talk phenomenally inspiring and eye-opening. It was incredible to learn about the symbolism of the pink triangle and learn about how powerful design can be.’

If you want to see what she’s talking about, you can watch Will St Leger’s speech here.

We also decided to have music to start off the events, and asked local musicians to play before the speakers take to the proverbial stage. Nathalie’s favourite performer was Jackie Hennessy, who had her first ever solo performance before Anna Cosgrave spoke about Equality.

Nathalie has such a wonderful website, it would be a shame if you didn’t check it out.

And of course, if you want to follow her on social media, I’m sure she wouldn’t mind.

So, here’s to Nathalie and thanks for the beautiful photos!

The November CreativeMornings/Dublin event is taking place on 1 December at 8:30am in The Tara Buildings. The theme is Death, and the speaker is Donal Moloney, who’s a photographer with more than 30 years experience. Our resident blogger, Specky Scribbler, sat down with him to discuss all things photography, death and decay.

Donal is perhaps best known for his documentary, Martin, about a man who lived under the railway bridge on Westland Row for years. Donal came to know and build a relationship with Martin, and to this day, they go out once a week for dinner or to the cinema. Donal loves ‘characters’, and getting to know people’s stories. Perhaps then you might wonder why he loves taking photos of derelict and abandoned buildings.

‘Well, when you go into these houses or buildings, you find things left behind. Often the houses are left because there are no families to take them back, so nature does.’

But if nature takes them back, how do you find the stories and find out more about the people?

‘I just ask. I go to the next neighbour - they may be 20 miles away - and I ask about the house up the road, what happened to the people there. Then people just start to talk. They love to talk and share. They don’t mind. I just tell them I’m a photographer and this is what I do for fun.’

It was about 5 years ago when Donal decided that there was something missing. His agency work is something he really enjoys, but he didn’t get the chance to get back into photography, back into what he loved doing.

‘I’ve been behind a camera since I was very young. 5 years ago I just wanted to get back to it and find my love of photography again. So that’s what I did. I looked for abandoned and derelict properties around Ireland and I infiltrated them. I liked going into old abandoned asylums and seeing what was left. Generally though, they’re small little normal houses. The big manor houses don’t exist anymore, but the small ones do. Little farm houses, coach houses. They’re left on the edge of property, left just the way they were years ago.’

So, Donal is known for his commercial work, and for Martin, but that’s not what he’ll be talking about in December.

‘There’s nothing to do with Death in Martin’s story. Nothing at all. I hope people don’t expect to see much of that stuff when I discuss death. I’ll be showing photos of the old buildings I found. Hopefully they don’t find it boring.’

If my coffee with Donal is anything to go by, his talk will be the farthest thing from boring.

CreativeMornings couldn’t happen without sponsorship, and we’ve been so lucky here in Dublin that we have found wonderful sponsors. This month, our resident blogger, Specky Scribbler, sat down with the director of coffeeangel, Caroline Sleiman-Purdy to chat about what involvement in CreativeMornings/Dublin means to her.

For Caroline Sleiman-Purdy, the origin of the coffeeshop is the salon, where creative minds met and shared ideas. In the salon, creative minds met, debated and fleshed out ideas over a cup of coffee (or four). That’s why, when CreativeMornings got in touch, she jumped at the opportunity to get involved in the creative community.

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“It’s exactly what I wanted. I love the idea of the salon, and I wanted to enable people to come together to share creativity over fantastic cups of coffee. The people who go to CreativeMornings make the effort to be up early, to hear someone share their story. For us, the creative spirit tied in exactly with what we wanted to do with coffeeangel.”

CreativeMornings sets out to do just that: provide people with a space to listen to someone speak about their idea/business/art, drink coffee, talk to like-minded people and kick start their Friday morning with some creative thinking.

“The people who attend CreativeMornings are passionate about art/social change/music. We’re passionate about coffee. Every coffee has a different flavour profile, which is why we bring different blends to CreativeMornings/Dublin. We want to let people see that there is more to coffee than just a caffeine fix, or a coffee with milk.”

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coffeeangel is about giving people a great cup of coffee in the right environment, and the muted, understated design of the coffeeangel shops is to enable people to do just that. Everything to do with coffeeangel is sophisticated. The aesthetic is one of muted colours, clean lines and well-thought out design. So much creative thought has gone into the design of coffeeangel shops and products, so that you can focus on enjoying the coffee without the clutter.

“The walls are kept clean so that our customers are not overwhelmed by visual clutter. When you sit down for a coffee in our café, we want you to be able to enjoy yourself. Sit down, take the time to relax, indulge in the coffee, and savour its flavour profiles and clear your mind. Focus on what you want to do, and any creative thoughts you might have. It’s hard to do that if there’s a lot going on.”

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coffeeangel will be at our Pioneer event in The Tara Building on Friday, 27 October, and you’ll get the chance to take a moment to enjoy the coffees they have. Chat to Justin, who’ll ask you what you look for in a flavour profile, and then sit back, relax and enjoy the creative morning because that’s what it’s all about.

“Everyone who’s called a genius rode their own bandwagon. I’m all for that.”

Our speaker for August’s edition of Creative Mornings was Caroline Foran. Caroline wrote a best-selling, non-fiction book about overcoming anxiety, which has been on the top of the charts in Ireland since it was released. 

Owning It: Your Bullsh*t-Free Guide to Living with Anxiety details how Caroline lives with anxiety and how it came to be. So, for her take on our theme of Genius, Caroline spoke about what genius means to her.

“Everyone who’s called a genius rode their own bandwagon. I’m all for that.”

Caroline discussed how, genius to her, means going against the tide of what’s expected and embracing who you are. When she realised her anxiety had overcome her, she sought out ways to feel better.

For her, part of that was embracing it, embracing how she felt, understanding her triggers and finding ways to live with it.

Be a genius, embrace who you are, toot your own horn. 

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