The Love and Courage podcast features interviews with inspirational people who are making a real difference in the world today. Guests are typically people passionate about social justice, and who have demonstrated courage and conviction in their lives. Ruairí McKiernan is a multi award winning Irish social innovator, campaigner, writer and public speaker. He is the founder of the pioneering SpunOut youth organization, and helped set-up the Uplift and the A Lust For Life non-profits. In 2012 the President of Ireland Michael D Higgins appointed Ruairí to the Council of State, a constitutional advisory body whose members include all former leaders of the country. Ruairí is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Fulbright fellowship, and he contributes regularly to the media on youth, health, community and social justice issues.
Rev Tim Costello - Renowned Australian Humanitarian
Tim Costello is one of Australia's most well-known and respected community leaders. In recent times he was voted one of Australia’s 100 national living treasures. A recipient of Victorian of the Year and Victoria's Australian of the Year accolades, as well as an Officer of the Order of Australia, he is an influential leader on a range of social issues, including the huge harm caused by the scourge of gambling in Australia.
Tim is a previous longtime CEO of World Vision Australia and has helped lead the response to some of the greatest humanitarian disasters of recent times, including the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. A former Lawyer, Tim is a man with many hats. He’s the Director of Ethical Voice, Executive Director of Micah Australia, Chair of the Community Council of Australia, Senior Fellow for the Centre for Public Christianity, and Chief Advocate for the Alliance for Gambling Reform. He is also the Chief Advocate of the Thriving Communities Partnership and Patron of the National Youth Commission. He’s also the author of several books, including his excellent memoir, A Lot with a Little, which I highly recommend. I particularly enjoyed the section of that book that describes Tim and his wife Merridie’s journey in building a congregation at St Kilda Baptist Church and an accompanying drop-in centre and outreach program. It was from here that Tim’s advocacy grew and he later went on to become the Mayor of St Kilda, where he developed a reputation as an outspoken social and political voice for change, a voice that is very much a voice of love and courage.
Don O'Leary - Director of Cork Life Centre
This episode features a conversation with Cork man Don O'Leary. Don is the Director of the Cork Life Centre, which is a voluntary organization established over 20 years ago to offer an alternative learning environment to young people aged 12-18 who have not thrived or coped in a mainstream educational setting.
I have visited the centre as a guest speaker in the past and witnessed first-hand the loving and creative environment in which young people can flourish. The centre has struggled to receive state support and recognition and the first few minutes of the podcast include some updates and insights from Don concerning the battle to stay open in recent months despite the centre winning widespread acclaim, and being the feature of a major TV documentary, among other accolades, which has included Don receiving an honorary doctorate from University College Cork.
There's lots more in this conversation including Don's reflections on a lifetime of youth and community work and social activism, his thoughts on the recent tribute concert for him by folk music legend and previous podcast guest Christy Moore, and lots on his critiques of social, economic and education inequalities.
Don also shares openly about his experience of living with a terminal illness and how he has responded to that challenge with great grace, strength and dignity.
There's so much we didn't get to talk about including his overland visit to Ukraine as part of an Irish community fundraising and war relief effort. At the heart of the conversation is a passionate appeal for greater care, support, love and investment in children and young people, especially those that are on the margins.
Wallis Bird - Musician and Songwriter
Wallis Bird is one of my favourite artists and perhaps my favourite all-time performer. Originally from Wexford Ireland, Wallis has been based in Berlin Germany for over a decade. She has 7 albums to her name including her latest called Hands, which is in many ways is a celebration of uniqueness and difference. The origin story goes back to when Wallis was 18 months old 5 of her fingers were severed in a lawnmower accident. 4 were sown back on meaning she ended up losing one and from then on was forced to do things differently to many people, including how she learned to play the guitar. And for anyone that has seen her play, she truly is a force of nature.
Michael Barron - Human Rights Activist, Founding Director of BelongTo (LGBTI+ org)
My guest in this episode I Michael Barron. Michael is a well-known Irish human rights activist originally from rural Co Kilkenny where he grew up as a young gay man dancing to Madonna while many of the other boys focused on hurling and sports. He shares some fascinating stories and insights from that time in his life and his coming of age in Dublin and New York.
Michael is currently working as the Executive Director of the Rowan Trust, which is an important independent foundation that funds important social movements, campaigns and initiatives. Since the 1990s Michael has worked with communities pushed to the margins - as a front-line youth and community worker, an executive director of a number of national organisations, a researcher, a grantmaker and a campaigner. As well as being an activist, hes also a great thinker and a bit of a scholar – he has a PhD in the social sciences and he tells me he’s also working on a book.
I first met Michael when he was working as the founder and Executive Director of the BeLonG To, a pioneering LGBTI+ organisation that does amazing work with young people in Ireland. Michael went on to play a leading role in the Marriage Equality referendum he also headed up a campaign to remove the so-called Catholic baptism barrier from Irish public schools in 2018 - both major milestones in our recent history. As you’ll hear now, Michael doesn't shy away from taking on important issues such as the separation of church and state, Trans rights, and the rise of the far right. We also reflect a lot in this on our shared experiences of working in the non-profit sector, some of the trials and tribulations, and the importance of authenticity, creativity, and self-care.
Eugene O'Brien - Playwright, Screenwriter, Former Actor
Eugene O'Brien is a playwright, screenwriter, and former actor originally from County Offaly in the Irish midlands. He has written for the stage, screen and radio. His work includes the critically acclaimed TV drama Pure Mule, winner of five IFTA Awards, and which, according to the Irish Times, ‘spectacularly raised the bar for Irish TV drama’. The show was inspired by his play Eden, which debuted at the Abbey Theatre and has since played the West End and Off-Broadway. At the time of recording, Eugene is on the cusp of a creative wave with a new play called Heaven, a film called Tarrac, and a new book, his first novel, which is called Going Back. Eugene is someone hugely dedicated to his craft and to the role of the artist in exploring ideas and understanding in society and we cover this and so much more in this conversation.
Grace Dyas - Artist, Activist, Director, & Performer
My friend Grace Dyas is still relatively young but she’s already something of an Irish legend. Grace is an artist, activist, writer, director, producer, and performer. Originally from south inner-city Dublin, she now lives on the Inis Oirr, one of the beautiful Aran Islands off the coast of County Galway.
Grace has an incredible portfolio of work and award-winning achievements to her name. She has created films, plays, live performances and large-scale projects with people who had never done art before. She has made art about all facets of addiction, and topics such as sex work, social housing, political conflict and corruption, abortion, and the legacy of Church and State abuse in Ireland, mostly with survivors of Magdalene Laundries. Grace writes on her website, “I make art because I know it changes lives for the better”.
We’re going to dive into some of these areas and more in this rich conversation. We also talk a good bit about emotional health and some of the challenges Grace has been through and I want to say if you find yourself in need of help or support, please do reach out to a friend, a GP, a relevant helpline, or support service in whatever country you are in. It’s also important that we look out for each other these days when so many people are under pressure.
As if we didn’t already love Christy Moore, this confirms he’s the man I thought him to be. And he reminds me not to give up on the craziness of the 21st century, that it is people, like our host, who gives us hope through ‘Love and Courage.’ Time for me to go pick up all the plastic lining my roadside... because that does take love and courage.
Great content! Keep shedding love and light
I look forward to listening to all of the podcast and to share them with my network in the US
We need more podcasts like this and people like Ruairí in the world!
Been a subscriber and patron of this podcast from the beginning. I really admire the work Ruairí does and what he stands for, and with this podcast he brings heaps of love and courage into the world. I dare you to listen to it and not feel hopeful and inspired. Thanks Ruairí for everything you do.