Ireland is full of incredible people who are continuously making our little country a better place and making us very proud in the process.
These people are breaking out of their comfort zone every day, inspiring thousands to do better and making Ireland a better place.
2018 was a remarkable year for Irish women so with that in mind we have decided to start 2019 off by focusing particularly on five Inspiring Irish women who promise to make this year even more remarkable than the last.
From starting their dream business to standing up for those who don’t have a voice, these inspiring Irish women need to be known.
Be sure to follow them on social media for daily inspiration and encouragement. Prepare to be amazed (or to feel wholly inadequate).
5. Joan Mulloy
Joan is the embodiment of a ‘can do’ attitude and is certainly not one to back away from a challenge.
County Mayo’s Joan is currently going where no Irish woman has ever gone before and is taking part in ‘La Solitaire du Figaro’, a solo marathon offshore sailing race which she sees as practice for her ultimate goal, the 2020 Vendeé Globe.
Proving her ambition and urge to challenge herself she is currently preparing for this acclaimed around the world non-stop solo sailing race.
If Joan succeeds, she will be one of 8 women in the World to have competed in the Vendeé Globe, an intense sailing race which has been nicknamed the ‘Everest of the Seas’ and will be the first ever Irish woman to ever compete in the race and to sail solo around the world.
4. Vera Twomey
Vera Twomey is a hero to both her young daughter and to the people of Ireland. Vera’s daughter Ava suffers from a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet’s syndrome, the symptoms of which include severe seizures and can be treated effectively with medical cannabis.
When the Minister for Health restricted her access to the drug, Vera took matters into her own hands (or legs) and walked 260km from Cork to Dublin in protest, twice!
Vera was not only successful in getting a special licence for her daughter to treat her condition with medical cannabis, the publicity she attracted sparked a nationwide discussion on the subject of helping other people who were sick like her daughter.
Sometimes actions speak louder than words.
3. Iseult Ward
At the ripe age of 28, Iseult Ward co-founded the award-winning social enterprise Food Cloud which she is now the CEO of.
Food Cloud connects retail stores across Ireland and the UK, such as Tesco and Aldi with charities where they can donate surplus food waste in an attempt to combat food waste, one of the most pressing environmental issues facing our time.
Proving that succeeding in business and doing something good for society can come hand in hand, Iseult Ward was Green Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014 and featured on the Forbes 30 under 30 list in 2017.
To add to a long list of other awards and achievements Iseult is one of Time Magazine’s Next Generation Leaders and is One Young World Ambassador.
2. Mary Nolan Hickey
Mary Nolan Hickey proves that you should never let age stop you. At the age of 65, Arklow woman Mary ran the entire length of the Irish Coast in 2018 to raise money for the Irish RNLI.
Not only did she achieve this major physical accomplishment, but she raised over €60,000 for the RNLI, triple what she set out to achieve.
Choosing to represent an organisation close to her heart, Mary chose to run anti-clockwise around the coast starting in Arklow in the worst of the winter conditions to symbolise the rough conditions faced by members of the RNLI on a daily basis.
There is no doubt that Mary tested herself to the limits as she was hit with two of the year’s worst storms throughout her journey, Storm Emma and The Beast from the East. What a legend!
1. Joanne O’Riordan
Joanne, aged 22, is a truly inspiring Cork native who has achieved so much in her life so far despite being one of seven people in the world living with the rare tetra-amelia syndrome which means that she was born without limbs.
It is safe to say that Joanne hasn’t let this diagnosis define or limit her in any way.
She rose to fame on our TV screens when she publicly challenged the then Taoiseach Enda Kenny after he made cutbacks in disability funding, a decision which was later withdrawn.
After furthering her impact during a profound Late Late Show TV interview, she continued to stand up for people with a disability when she spoke before the United Nations in New York in 2012 and challenged them to build her a robot for her use.
Since graduating from UCC in October 2018 with a BA in Criminology, Joanne has pursued a career in sports journalism and is a regular contributor to the Irish Times. Nothing can stop her now!