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05th Jan 2017

27 Irish Trailblazers To Watch Out For In 2017


2017 is set to be an exciting year for many of Ireland’s movers ‘n’ shakers, who are establishing themselves both here and abroad. 

Last year saw new sounds from exciting musicians such as All Tvvins and our very own red carpet star Saoirse Ronan impress audiences across the world with her performance in Brooklyn. Activism played an important role in our lives with the Repeal the 8th campaign and more recently, Apollo House and Home Sweet Home.

So, what to expect in the next 12 months? Thanks to the following champions across the categories of Music, Sport, Film, Tech, Fashion, Business, Activism, Food and Media, the upcoming year is already looking as bright as that one day of sun we get in July.

Here’s our top picks of the influential Irish people to watch out for in 2017:



The Balbriggan singer grabbed everyone’s attention this year with her release Love No More, a drum and bass R&B tuuuune. The young and talented Soulé has performed live with Kendrick Lamar, so expect big things in the next 12 months.


Wicklow raised, 20-year-old Bonzai is a fluoro blend of rap, grime, dubstep, techno and D&B. Signed to Columbia Records and playing a stellar gig at District 8 at the end of the year, music lovers are eagerly awaiting to hear more.


Eden, the alias of 21 year old Johnathon Ng, has sold out venues in LA, New York and Toronto with his electronic blend of EDM, dance and pop music. His singles have over 4 million views on Youtube and he’s being managed by the same people behind Justin Bieber, which says it all really. 


Sarah Lavin: Athletics

The Limerick hurdler, who holds the Irish junior records at 60m and 100m hurdles, had hoped to compete in the Rio Olympics last year but was set back last minute with an injury. Now healed and ready to go for the European Indoor Athletics Championships in March, she’s a strong contender for Tokyo 2020.

Garry Ringrose: Rugby

Rising star and Leinster centre Garry may only be in his second professional season, but already he is tipped as a future stronghold of the team. He started his first senior play for Ireland at the end of 2016, with many more to come.

Dylan Connolly: Soccer

The 21-year-old Dubliner netted seven goals in 35 appearances as a winger for Bray this year, amid reports that a €100,000 price tag was being held out for before any transfer to another club. Having just signed a new two year contract, the Bray player has his eyes on big goals this year.


Aoife Kelleher: Director

Aoife has recently established herself as an exceptional documentary maker, with her work One Million Dubliners, which brought Glasnevin Cemetery to life, and Strange Occurrences in a Small Irish Village, a reflection both on Knock and the position the Irish Church occupies in modern Ireland. Expect more conversation-starting work from her in 2017.

Ruth Negga: Actor

She’s graced the cover of Vogue, has been nominated for a Golden Globe and is hiiiighly tipped to win an Oscar this year for Best Actress. Rising star Ruth, who has acted in TV series Love/Hate, Misfits, and acclaimed film Breakfast On Pluto is going to be HUGE in 2017.

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Photo: taniavolobueva /

Patrick Gibson: Actor

You may recognise Patrick from Netflix sci-fi series The OA, and the young talent also had roles in What Richard Did and The Tudors. This year, he already has some big projects in line, including a mini-series opposite Idris Elba to air on Sky Atlantic.

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Patrick in The Passing Bells on Youtube


Garret Flower

Co-founder of Krust Bakery, Garret ventured into the tech world with his parking space rental app, Parkpnp, which allows people to make money from their unused car parking spaces. Having secured a €500,000 of seed funding, this year is an exciting start for the young tech entrepreneur. 

Edel Browne

This 19-year-old biotechnology student at NUI Galway is the co-founder of Free Feet Medical, a start-up developing technology to help people with Parkinson’s Disease overcome ‘gait freeze’ by shining a light in front of the foot. Having won first prize at NUI Galway Student Enterprise Awards, Edel is continuing to develop her exciting project.

Cathal O’Sullivan

Cathal founded start-up company GameX, a games recommendation engine that gives gamers a range of different titles based on their previous gaming history. Supported by Enterprise Ireland and already labelled as a ‘high potential startup’, GameX is set to be big.

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photo: Cathal O’Sullivan LinkedIn


Aideen Gaynor

NCAD alumni Aideen’s graduate collection recently won the coveted Designer to Watch prize awarded by the fashion director of Brown Thomas, and she has also worked on costumes for the Penny Dreadful TV series (shot in Dublin). Expect even more beautifully printed silhouettes in 2017. 

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Photo cred: Aideen Gaynor

Aidan Walsh

The Ennis-born model and dancer landed a coveted Vogue cover at the end of 2015 and is currently living and working in London. Signed to AMCK Models, Aidan is steadily building his portfolio and will be a very popular face this year. 

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Conaill O’Dywer

Another mega-talented NCAD grad, Conaill is turning traditional menswear into an exciting and colourful concept. His design work is based on manhood, masculinity and gay identity, using the traditional tailored suit as a catalyst. His future plans include starting his own design house, a plan we would love to see come to light.


Wicklow Wolf

Craft beer company Wicklow Wolf has plans to extend its business internationally this year, after the recent success of securing a whopping €2 million investment. The company currently sells its 16 varieties of beers to off-licences and pubs across Ireland, so we are expecting them to be just as much of a hit abroad.


Lottie Dolls

This Irish doll company makes dolls based on positive role models, such as doctors or adventurers, which are designed to inspire girls and boys into the world of STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering and Maths). They recently had a viral campaign featuring a Lottie Doll at the International Space Station, and have received a €1 million investment to expand globally.

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Buymie is an Irish startup that picks up groceries from the shelves of any supermarket in the city and transports them to a customer’s door with the ambitious promise of a one-hour delivery time. The company launched last year and works with supermarkets such as Tesco, Aldi and Lidl. With consumers looking for easier ways to shop, this year could see Buymie really take off. 

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Anna Cosgrave

Anna started the REPEAL project, designing clothing in an effort to promote awareness of women’s rights and the Eighth Amendment. Working alongside the Abortion Rights Campaign, this is a massively important movement for pro-choice supporters and is sure to gather more steam this year.

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Ellie Kisyombe

Ellie is the co-founder of Our Table, a community-led non-profit organisation aiming to end direct provision and provide migrants with opportunities to find permanent employment. The pop-up Our Table cafe was set up in Dublin before Christmas and the founders hope to find a more permanent location in 2017.

Orla Tinsley

Orla is an active Cystic Fibrosis campaigner, whose writing has played a huge role in improving healthcare services and awareness of cystic fibrosis in Ireland. She fights for Irish people’s rights to access life-saving drugs at a fair price, and was a key supporter of recent protests against the news that the HSE would not fund CF drug Orkambi. Studying in New York, Orla continues to be an advocate for CF rights. 



born and now London based, chef Robin Gill now has four restaurants
to his name: The
 and Counter
. He
has also set up a popular supper club in London, and owes his success
to his expert use of seasonal produce. We’re excited to see what’s next.

Karl Whelan

Owner and head chef of hottest new restaurant in town, Hang Dai, Karl is also behind the popular Super Miss Sue, 777 and SMS Luna; this man clearly knows his food. It’s safe to say that he has transformed the Dublin restaurant scene in recent years by bringing new cultures to our palates. Who knows what Karl will bring to the table in 2017?

Samuel Dennigan

Sam first got the food bug by working at the Smithfield Fruit Market, and is influenced by healthy and nutritious food. His company, Strong Roots, sells healthy frozen sweet potato chips, kale burgers, and our personal fave – frozen and perfectly ripe avocado halves. Here’s hoping Sam expands his brand even more this year. 

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is a Dublin vlogger and presenter on 2FM, who recently
impressed with his documentary Playing
shone a light on issues surrounding homophobia in football. As part of RTE’s Reality Bites series, Stephen looks destined to bring quality work to Irish screens this year.

Ellen Coyne

Ellen Coyne, who works for the Irish edition of The Times, is a highly experienced young journalist and her 2016 coverage of abortion clinics who dealt false information to vulnerable women made headlines across the nation. We have no doubt she’ll continues to expose important information to the Irish public over the next twelve months.

Ali Ryan

Still in her mid-twenties, Ali is already a fixture on the media scene due to her success as a showbiz journalist and subsequent launch of With two new sites going live this week, including US-based, there’s no stopping her!

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