All posts by niamhsmith

Beowulf – A Thousand Years of Baggage

There are many things I am looking forward to at the 2011 Kilkenny Arts Festival. From the first moment I heard the words rock-opera though, I was intrigued. I had been wondering what would be the thing this year that everyone would be talking about? The universal topic separating them from us among the crowd of friendly strangers and new friends at the arts festival. Last year, without a doubt, it was The Smile Off Your Face. “Have you been yet?” “Did you enjoy it? How did it feel?” “Did he do that thing, with your hand?” – it seemed that eventually everyone you met asked the question or answered it from you.

On this year’s Theatre & Dance programme, I am intrigued by Beowulf – A Thousand Years of Baggage. Even the name is epic, never mind the eponymous poem. I’ve read the blurb on the Kilkenny Arts Festival site: Continue reading Beowulf – A Thousand Years of Baggage


Kilkenny Arts Festival 2011 Theatre and Dance Strand

The Kilkenny Arts Festival launched this morning in the grounds of the beautiful IMMA in Dublin amid the song of a Baroque Choir. Or so I am told as I couldn’t make it along.

Each of the bloggers this year have taken charge of blogging a particular strand of the festival. I’ll telling you all about the Theatre & Dance Strand. Each of the strands are curated by someone who works (and usually lives and breathes) the art that they are curating. This year Tom Creed has taken on the Theatre & Dance Strand and again it looks magical, as it did last year. I’m very excited about the festival again this year!

I’ve put the official info from the Kilkenny Arts Festival site below on each piece but plan to write a bit more about them individually coming closer to the festival. You can keep on top of Festival News on the blog, on twitter, on Facebook or by signing up for email updates at the bottom of the homepage. And let’s not forget YouTube. Continue reading Kilkenny Arts Festival 2011 Theatre and Dance Strand

Know the movie industry? Want to write about it?

Movie Extras are looking for someone to take over the writing of their monthly ezine, It’s A Wrap, covering movie news, gossip, interviews and competitions. Here is the blurb from their monthly newsletter about it:

Every month we want to produce an ezine called ‘It’s A Wrap’. It will cover film news, gossip, interviews and competitions. We are looking for a journalist with an avid interest in movies and the film industry to write this this exciting ezine.

Click here for a previous version of our ezine

The new ezine, needs to be about half as long as the previous editions.

One of the perks of the job is that you will also be able to go to press screenings of movies coming up, a week or two before they are on general release! And you may get to interview some of the top people in the film industry.

Naturally this is not a full time job, more of a ‘nixer’ on the side. The contract will be for 12 months. Payment will be on a monthly invoiced basis. The fee per ezine is €250. There may be other opportunities to supplment this income.

If you are interested in this role, please send an email to (remove spaces) with the subject line ‘Ezine Submission’, with the following:

– Your CV
– Short sample submission (maybe just a section)

Please reply by July 1st 

Sounds like a great opportunity for anyone looking to get into that area of writing 🙂

Kilkenny Arts Festival 2011

One of the highlights of my summer last year was the Kilkenny Arts Festival. Purely by accident I was asked to work on the online PR for the festival which I did and as part payment got to go down to Kilkenny with Darragh for the first weekend and go to as many shows as I liked. We really packed them in and saw a great variety of shows, performances and gigs.

I promised myself that I would go back this year no matter what and luck intervened again – I’ve been asked to be one of a large team of bloggers blogging events at the festival. Yay!


So you will see me wandering around Kilkenny in August with a big smile on my face running from one end of the town to the other, from event to event and loving it. You might also see me sneaking up to Café Sol Bistro for some well-deserved delicious dinner 😉

I wonder what the talk of the town will be this time round? Last year it was definitely this.

Kilkenny Arts Festival runs from 5th -14th August 2011 and you can check out the programme once it has been announced on

I haven’t got time for that!

How many times have you thought of volunteering and then thought, “I haven’t got time for that!”? Many people are under the impression that to volunteer requires dedicated hours every week for an indefinite period of time. And for volunteering with some charities, particularly helplines that require you to undergo extensive training, it is true.

However there are many things we do from day to day that most of us don’t think twice about but are considered volunteering all the same.

Maybe you offer a lift to a neighbour who has no car?

Maybe you call on an elderly neighbour for a chat or to see if they need anything in the shops?

Maybe you mind children for a friend so they can get some valuable time out with their partner?

All are a form of volunteering – giving your time free of charge for someone else’s benefit.

On 1st October next, Volunteering Ireland will be celebrating a National Day of Volunteering and they would like as many people as possible to participate. One idea is the Random Act of Volunteering. They are asking that everyone make an effort to do one thing for someone else on that day, no matter how small. And if you really can’t do anything, then maybe you could thank the people you know who volunteer their time or services either by thanking them in person or by adding them to the Thank You Roll of Honour on the website.

“Even if a person can just do just one small thing on the day, such as walk an elderly neighbour’s dog, or register to give blood, it does make a difference.  And, as all the research indicates, helping in this way is just as beneficial for the volunteer, as it is for the recipient”, Dr. Yvonne McKenna, CEO of Volunteer Centres Ireland says.

Miriam O'Callaghan volunteers her time at the launch of National Day of Volunteering

It’s not all about helping others – volunteering can be good for you too. VolunteerMatch, a US counterpart of Volunteer Centres Ireland, released a study in April 2010 showing that volunteering not only enhances physical and mental health, but also strengthens relationships between employers and employees.

Key findings were that 68% said volunteering made them feel physically healthier, and 29% of volunteers suffering from a chronic condition said volunteering helped them manage their illness.  73% of volunteers reported lower stress levels, and over 75% volunteering through work said they felt better about their employer as a result.

Dr. Yvonne McKenna, Volunteering Ireland and Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh at the launch of the National Day of Volunteering

It has been a pleasure to be part of the steering committee for the National Day of Volunteering, everyone involved was incredibly enthusiastic, a wonderful group of people! And I am reliably informed that being on the steering committee also counts as me volunteering my time 🙂

If you want to find out more about the National Day of Volunteering, please follow them on Twitter, visit the website and tell as many people as you can about it.

Measure It!

On 2 June last, Damien Mulley ran a Measure It! seminar. The idea of Measure It! was that there would be a few speakers to talk about social media metrics and measurements and then a group exercise to get a few ideas and debate flowing.

The first speaker of the morning was Keith from Realex Payments.

Keith advised that you should know what your key metrics are – for Realex they are customers, transactions and times spent on site. They now have QRCs online – Qualified Realex Commentators – individual members of staff who are allowed represent the company online. They collectively focus on one theme at a time so as not to dilute the company message.

Barry Hand of was next up and gave a very interesting and in-depth presentation on how to measure social media and it’s worth to your business.

Points made include that social media is not free – it takes resources, most importantly time. ROI is a business metric and not the same as social media. Social media is basically communication with your customers but what is the objective of using social medi – you need to work out what it is – more sales? Customer service? Does social media do this for you?

Final speaker of the morning was Stephen O’Leary of O’Leary Analytics.

Stephen gave a really great synopsis of the recent Hunky Dorys campaign, which was entirely run offline but which exploded in the online forum. It was very interesting to see where the noise about these posters and the Hunky Dorys came from – you can see all of Stephen’s data here.

Measure It! was a great insight into how much I don’t know and need to learn about social media in order to use it to the best of it’s ability. If there is another Measure It! I heartily recommend that anyone using social media for business goes to it.

It was free of charge and took place in the Academy Plaza Hotel in Findlater Place, Dublin 1, just off O’Connell Street.

“Celtic Chernobyl”

Last week while all of the Anglo Irish Bank stuff was coming to the fore and they could talk of nothing else on radio, tv and at lunch tables the length and breadth of Ireland, a certain clever man coined the phrase “Celtic Chernobyl”.

While on Newstalk Radio, Dr. Peter Bacon, economist, uttered the phrase. I’m sure he had come up with it long before the interview and dropped it in there hoping that it would capture the attention of the media in the same way that “Celtic Tiger” did. And for a few days it did.

Thankfully, here we are just over a week later and it seems to have died away. There was just something inherently wrong with comparing what, to me, is fantasy money, numbers on a computer screen – to the horrendous and perpetual human suffering caused by the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986.

Good riddance to the “Celtic Chernobyl” in more ways than one, I say.