The Family of Things is an audio transmedia project from award winning production company Athena Media about ideas, life and how we live it. In the audio podcast series, Presenter/Producer Helen Shaw talks to people about their life journey, what forms them, informs them and what drives them forward. “Every week in my job I meet someone I would love to sit down with and talk in depth. Often I just get to chat about the day and never get the opportunity to take an hour and explore the questions that define us. That curiosity, that wonder made me create The Family of Things” - Helen Shaw
Helen Shaw's guest in this episode of The Family of Things is film-maker Frank Berry whose work tells stories of social realism in often tough suburbs from the documentary film 'Ballymun Lullaby' at the time of the tearing down of the Ballymun Towers to dramas like 'I Used to Live Here', touching on youth mental health and suicide to the more recent and acclaimed 'Michael Inside' about a teenage boy caught up in the quicksand of the Irish prison system. Frank loves working with young people and his twin passions are teaching and film-making, looking for the moments when he can turn a switch on in someone's mind.
In this episode of The Family of Things Helen Shaw’s guest is the psychologist and author Dr Tony Bates. Tony founded Headstrong, (now Jigsaw), the National Agency for Youth Mental Health, after a long career in clinical psychology.
He was the co-editor of Vision for Change, the mental health strategic review in 2006 and that work motivated him to create an NGO with a mission to provide mental health resources for young people. Jigsaw now has 13 centres across Ireland and has become a critical part of support services for young people in Ireland.
Tony is also credited as one of the people who brought the practice of mindfulness to Ireland following his own experience at the buddhist retreat centre in Plum Village, France with the spiritual leader Thich Nhat Hanh. He is the author of ‘Coming Through Depression, a Mindful Approach to Recovery’.
Helen Shaw’s guest in this edition of the The Family of Things podcast is Irish scientist and astro physicist Professor Peter Gallagher. The Family of Things is a podcast by Athena Media.
Peter Gallagher leads solar physics and space weather research at Trinity College Dublin. Gallagher researches the Sun, in particular solar storms and their impact on Earth. He is Director of the Rosse Solar Terrestrial Observatory at Birr Castle and leads the Irish LOFAR radio telescope project. Gallagher says he was always fascinated by how things work when he was a small boy, even taking the television apart to see what made it work but was a lack lustre student at school.
He took physics and mathematics at UCD before his PhD in solar physics at Queen’s University Belfast. At UCD he met and married fellow scientist Emma Teeling who now heads the bat lab at UCD and is an internationally acclaimed geneticist. Gallagher spent six years in the US including working at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Vivienne DeCourcy, the writer and director of the new feature film ‘Dare to be Wild’ is Helen Shaw’s guest in episode 12 of The Family of Things.
‘Dare to be Wild’, is based on the true story of Irish wild garden designer Mary Reynolds who won the Chelsea Garden Show in 2002. The film is Vivienne’s directorial debut and in this podcast Vivienne talks about her connection to the film’s message, the importance of the environment, nature conservation on our planet and the connection between man and the environment. Vivienne, a former lawyer, began writing scripts after surviving cancer and she talks about her instinctive relationship with the outdoors and nature from her childhood.
Her parents, her father was in the Irish Army, and her mother was an English teacher, encouraged her to become a doctor or a lawyer, but as a lover of art and history, she feels she was given a special gift – to take inspirational and enlightening stories and share them with an audience.
Helen Shaw’s guest is performer and accidental activist Rory O’Neill AKA the Queen of Ireland Panti Bliss.
Rory talks about his memoir ‘Woman in the Making’ (Hachette 2014) and his personal journey from growing up in rural Ireland to become a ‘national treasure’ as the drag queen Panti who he says has become a sort of ‘avatar for change’. Rory shares the highs and lows of the last two years since his celebrated speech on the stage of the Abbey Theatre which mobilised support for the Marriage Equality Referendum that was passed by the Irish public in May 2015.
He reads from his memoir and talks about the influences on his Panti persona including Charlie’s Angel Farrah Fawcett with her frosted eyeshadow and blonde mane and his exotic Aunty Qy who visited from the US with gifts of ‘jumpers with hoods’ for him and his cousins. Highlights of this funny and insightful podcast include Rory’s description of sharing a stage with Bono in U2’s recent Dublin gig and the story behind the making o
Author and researcher Eleanor Fitzsimons is our latest guest in The Family of Things.
Eleanor’s acclaimed biography of Oscar Wilde from the perspective of the women in his life ‘Wilde’s Women‘ opens new windows on both Wilde and his work.
Eleanor beautifully written and carefully researched study was published in Ireland in Autumn 2015 and is being released in the US this year. In this conversation with presenter Helen Shaw she introduces us to Wilde’s intriguing mother, Jane Wilde a celebrated writer in her own time, and his much suffering wife Constance LLoyd as well as the women writers who influenced and inspired Wilde.
Eleanor describes her work as ‘recovering’ lost stories of women in history and sees her journey as akin to excavating the past; bringing forth what has been forgotten or obscured.
Nóirín Hegarty found her calling as a news reporter but moved into news management at just 25 years of age.
She was editor of the national sunday newspaper The Sunday Tribune at a time when there were very few women editors in Ireland and lead that newspaper from 2005 until it closed in 2011. Since then she’s been at the heart of digital change in the print industry but says she’s finally found her dream job with iconic travel brand Lonely Planet. She moved family and home to London to take up an editorial post with Lonely Planet but she then had the chance to open a Lonely Planet office in Dublin – bringing it all back home again.
In this podcast interview for The Family of Things with Helen Shaw, Nóirín talks openly about how tough and macho the editorial newspaper world was and how being a mother of three and a national newspaper editor was a challenging balancing act.
In Episode 8 of The FAMILY of THINGS, Helen Shaw’s guest is a man known for his winning speed and more recently his winning food – it’s champion sprinter and Celebrity Masterchef David Gillick.
David Gillick, who is now retired from competitive running, still holds the Irish indoor and outdoor 400m records and he won two Gold European medals as well as being a world finalist during his track career. In this episode of The Family of Things David shares his life story, what motivates him and what he has learnt along the way. Today he is a corporate coach sharing his sporting strategies with business leaders and he is also mentoring school students in athletics as well as playing in his local GAA team.
David Gillick tells Helen about the moment he knew he wanted to be a professional athlete as well as discussing his move to Loughborough University, the place that not only furthered his career but where his met his wife, Charlotte Wickham. David’s story of the boy from Ballinteer who made
Helen Shaw’s guest this episode is Cork born composer Linda Buckley who writes contemporary music drawing inspiration from the world around her, from the soundscape of her childhood growing up on a diary farm overlooking the Old Head of Kinsale to other places close to her heart including Iceland. Buckley’s work has been performed by Crash Ensemble, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the University of York Javanese Gamelan to name a few, and its mix of vocal, acoustic and electronic sounds is often termed spacial music. Buckley draws references from medieval music and sees her works not just as compositions but as live engagements defined by space and audiences. The podcasts draws from Buckley’s work including Torann, Eriu, Chiyo, Telephones and Gongs, Revelavit, Numarimur, Do you remember the planets, Fall Approaches Jump and O Iochtar Mara, and you can find out more on her website www.lindabuckley.org.
Helen Shaw meets actor and writer Mark O’Halloran the creative force behind the darkly comic films Adam and Paul and Garage. Mark talks about growing up in a big family in Ennis and his journey to become a writer and performer. He describes how limiting Ireland was as a young gay man and how a year spent in Amsterdam liberated him. He found a creative soul-mate in director Lenny Abrahamson and the two made the acclaimed independent film Adam and Paul in 2004. Mark shares life, love and loss in an open and revealing conversation stretches from his recent time filming in Havana for his film ‘Viva’ to his poignant experiences in Iran.
Sean nós singer and songwriter Iarla Ó’Lionáird is Helen Shaw’s guest in this edition of The Family of Things. Iarla is the voice of the acclaimed Irish ensemble The Gloaming whose album by the same name has received multiple award nominations. Iarla grew up in Cúil Aodha in Co Cork in an Irish speaking community in what he calls ‘ a hive of song’ and along with his ten brothers sang, as a child, in Seán Ó Riada’s choir. He talks about his relationship with his voice, his language and his creative journey from singing the cows back home to releasing his work through Peter Gabriel’s label Real World Records. Today he performs across the world not just with The Gloaming but also with operatic work by Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy.
Helen Shaw’s guest is Hans Zomer, Director of Dóchas, a development network, and lead organisation on the European Year of Development in Ireland. Hans talks about being shaped by his Dutch presbyterian roots, his family’s experience of World War 2 and his childhood growing up in Cameroon. He speaks five languages but says he now feels Irish and dreams in English. 2015 is an action year for world development with two landmark UN events aiming to secure a new set of development goals and a global agreement on the environment and climate change.
In Episode 3 of our podcast series The Family of Things presenter Helen Shaw talks to Trinity based physicist Dr. Shane Bergin. Shane says people often think science is ugly but necessary, while he thinks it is beautiful and essential. Shane talks of his passion to communicate science to the world and to inspire the next generation of scientists through his teaching work at TCD.
Shane is behind the award winning project ‘Dart of Physics’ and in this interview he describes nano-science and its future. As a scientist, researcher and teacher Shane is often in the public ear and eye through his work but he shares his love of music, his delight in cooking and baking (every weekend!) and talks about the people he admires including Irish President Michael D. Higgins and Nobel poet Seamas Heaney.
While Shane unpacks the world of science and education he also brought his favourite instrument along – the ukulele!
In the second episode of the series, Helen Shaw speaks to Irish writer Denise Deegan, author of the hugely popular Butterfly Novels for teenagers. More recently Denise has also adopted the pen name ‘Aimee Alexander’ under which she has started to self publish her adult fiction novels through Amazon.
Helen talks to Denise about her self publishing and where the idea for Aimee Alexander came from as well as taking it right back to the beginning to ask Denise when she started writing.
Denise, who has previously worked as a nurse, a checkout girl and a china restorer among other things, shares readings from her books, her approach to writing her novels and how her life experiences have been reflected in her stories and visa versa.
In this first episode of ‘The Family of Things’ series presenter Helen Shaw talks to Irish poet Nessa O’Mahony about her life, poetry, what inspires her.
Having spent 15 years in journalism and public relations, Nessa O’Mahony was one of the first writers in Ireland to complete a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing in 2007. She is a published writer having released poetry collections and verse novels such as ‘Bar Talk’ (1999), Trapping a Ghost (2005), In Sight of Home (2009) and more recently ‘Her Father’s Daughter’ (2014)
In this episode, Nessa tells us how she first began writing and the inspiration and stories behind her poems as well as giving us an insight into her personal life by sharing tales from her childhood memories with her father to what her family really think of her writing.