Next Dublin speaker

Community Takes The Stage

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August 24, 8:30am • The Tara Building • part of a series on Community

CreativeMornings/Dublin open every event with live music from local artists. This month, Dowry will be performing ahead of Briony Somers.

Michelle from Specky Scribbler sat down with the voice behind Dowry, Éna Brennan to discuss all things creative in Dublin (and beyond).

How did you get the gig to perform at CM?

I was recommended to the host by a mutual friend of ours, Robbie Blake, of Tonnta. He suggested to Aiden that I might be a good performer and so then Aiden sent me a brief email and asked if I’d be interested.

I definitely was, and the context of the event made me even more interested. I’d heard about CM, more so the international branches, but I’d heard about them and I liked the sound of them and then watching the archive I saw how engaged people are.

Then when I was asked to perform, I like having to think about the ways in which my music links in with the theme of the event: intention.

My music is going to open up the conversation in the room and I like that. It’s something I’m really looking forward to.

How do you find the creative scene in Dublin?

I got involved in the creative scene/industry in Ireland initially through my social circles in university. Then I got involved in playing with bands, and with people who were in bands. So I initially started in the scene as a performer and then I began to appreciate performances based on participation.

What I love about it is that it’s so supportive. We all go to each other’s shows. We all collaborate with each other. Some people are in 5 bands. It’s also the collaboration between visual artists and musicians.

What are you most excited about for Friday?

The engagement. I’ve chosen music that fits the topic and the event is a very focused one. You can be dynamic as a musician, and adapt to the audience. From watching videos of past events I saw that the audience are respectful and engaged.

I’ll play music to fit a theme, a topic. It gets into the nitty gritty of that topic and it’s a more considered approach to other gigs. I’ve had to think about how I open up the theme of the event, the conversation.

I’m mixing instrumental pieces and pieces with lyrics because as literal as some lyrics are, there is a tranquility in non-linguistic pieces of music. They are evocative in different ways for different people without being imposing.

I’m just excited to get involved.

Briony Somers is a model and one of the creators of Franc Magazine and Francly, their podcast. Franc is a magazine that came about when Briony was still studying History and Politics. Briony and Lauren Henshaw set up Franc as a side project, and it’s taken off.

Ahead of speaking at our July event: Intention, Michelle of Specky Scribbler sat down with Briony to discuss the creative industry in Ireland.

Why do you want to speak at an event?

I’ve attended a number of CreativeMornings events and watched even more online, so when I saw there was an open call for speakers, I jumped at the opportunity. I want to stand in front of people and tell them why I do what I do.

I do pretty much everything for the magazine, and then Lauren works 2 days a week with copy-editing, stockists, etc. Whereas I have ended up doing everything: sourcing contributors, styling the photoshoots, working with the designer on the layout.

I also now do a podcast as well. So it’s a mix of everything and we have funding from Launchbox, a Trinity accelerator programme. Thanks to them we have a place to work from, and a bit of backing.

It’s through that programme that we developed a company, in the form of a magazine.

I want to speak about who I am, why I do what I do, and how I navigate all these different aspects.


Is Franc then a way for you to bring all these things together?

Yeah, fashion has always been something I’ve had an interest in. I wasn’t in the Fashion Society in college, but I would make my own dresses for the black tie events. That was kind of how it was.

Then academically, everything had a view to fashion. When I was in London with John Rocha, I was interested in it and I got to see a lot of things and insights into design, but my interest is in the business side of it.

I am not an editor, a stylist or a writer, but I am those things for Franc Magazine because they all are a part of me. My self transcends the magazine. We wanted to create a fashion magazine that embraced fashion but left all the negativity beside. Fashion is often viewed as being materialistic, capitalistic, etc. So we made Franc to be humanistic.

We’re not writers, or fashion designers or stylists, so we couldn’t compete with the big publications out there. We have no way of competing with that, as that’s not where our expertise lies. Ours lies in writing considered, thoughtful and lengthy essays about fashion. That’s where we started and that’s what we want to continue to do.

I want to be involved in CreativeMornings because it’s a community. It’s somewhere for creatives to voice their experiences in a way that people will listen. There’s not many places that is a possibility.

This month, CreativeMornings/Dublin celebrate our 5th birthday, and our 1 year anniversary with The Tara Building! Be sure to party with us on Friday!!!

June’s theme is Craft, and ahead of our event on 29th June, our resident blogger, Specky Scribbler, met with our speaker, Gerry Scullion, to have lunch and pick his brains.

Gerry Scullion is only recently back in Dublin. He’s been back just over 2 months, after spending 12 years in Australia. He set up Humana Design down under, where he offered his human-centred design services to everyone and anyone who wanted them.

I’ll admit that when I heard that Gerry was a ‘human-centred designer’, I thought he coded things for humans. Like artificial intelligence or robots, or something like that. I guess human-centred design could include these things, but it also is a lot more.

When I spoke to Gerry, I had ideas in mind about what I’d ask him. How he came to be a human-centred designer, how he found CreativeMornings, what he thought about the creative community in Dublin. I basically asked him one or two questions and the rest of the time we talked about design, society and what we do.

Human-centred design is design that has people as its focus. Gerry said that being in a cafe was the perfect example of human-focused design. The services offered in a cafe are designed with people in mind, because people need to know how to react and interact with the different aspects of the cafe. That’s what he does. He works everyone involved projects to design a service for people in the way they need it.

This is human-centred design. It’s taking into account how every single human being interacts with the things that are around them. It’s the consideration of the complexities of human perspective into problem-solving.

The other thing I wanted to know, was what Gerry thought of the creative scene in Dublin at present, having left years ago.

He said that he would not have come back to the same Ireland he left, because he wouldn’t want to. He came back to Ireland because he saw potential in it, to become something great. He has been to design conferences here in recent years and he believes that design thinking in Ireland is onto something new.

Given that he’s only been living here for around 8 weeks, he hasn’t fully immersed himself into the creative sphere in Dublin. CreativeMornings is a good start, and his talk is sure to be a good one!

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.


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.


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.


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!