By Sarah Ruane and Mary Kate Hickey.

Thecity.ie went along to ‘Céilí sa Chlub’ organised by Conradh na Gaeilge in search of an alternative night out in Dublin City.

This hidden gem on Harcourt Street promised a great atmosphere with lots of dancing and music and it delivered in every way.

(Originally posted on TheCity.ie https://thecity.ie/2016/11/12/ceili-sa-chlub-alternative-nights-out-in-dublin-city/)


By Rachel D’Arcy, Sarah Ruane and Mary Kate Hickey

Spending on young people’s programming by RTÉ decreased steadily from 2013, The City can reveal. This news comes as it was announced that in-house production on Young People’s programming is set to face the axe. RTÉ announced in November that from 2017, all their young people’s programming will be outsourced to independent production companies. However, that decision has been postponed temporarily while discussions with staff continue.

In figures released to The City through the Freedom of Information Act 2014 (FOI), Young People’s programming saw a 15% decrease in spending from 2013 onward. There was a 4.3% decrease on spending in the young people’s sector within RTÉ in 2015.


While young people’s broadcasting will continue to be shown on RTÉ 1, RTÉ 2 and RTÉ Jr, production of RTÉ’s own young people’s programming – such as Swipe TV and Two Tube – will be abandoned by the state broadcaster amid claims that outsourcing will provide ‘greater value for money in a challenging financial environment’.

In terms of broadcasting time, young people’s programming saw a cut in their hours broadcast during peak time for the station. In 2014, RTÉ broadcast 24 hours of children’s television, which reduced to just 15 hours in 2015 – a 37.5% decrease.

“RTÉ is not reducing its commitment to young people’s programmes, nor is it reducing spend,” the broadcaster stated. Even though young people’s programming will be outsourced, RTÉ claims that they are not going to outsource children’s programming abroad. Rather, they will be allowing independent production companies and animation companies within Ireland to pitch new ideas and programmes to their young viewers.

RTÉ Trade Union Group (TUG) are not happy with the recent revelation claiming that the decision was made without any consultation with trade unions.

“There is no justification for the manner in which this decision was taken and this cavalier attitude to unions and staff only compounds the bad decision,” said TUG Chair, Shirley Bradshaw.

Another person who has publicly voiced their outrage over the decision is Paula Lambert, the voice of Bosco and daughter of Wanderly Wagon’s Eugene Lambert. Ms. Lambert described how cutting children’s TV was always the easy option for RTÉ in the past.


“It brought back incredibly bad memories for me. I remember Wanderly Wagon was axed and how it was done, and it hurt my dad back in the day. It happened with me with Bosco and it just brought back all these memories of how badly people are treated by RTÉ,” she said.

Following the TUG statement, RTÉ accepted that there had been insufficient consultation before the announcement and that further talks would therefore have to take place. These discussions are set to take place before January 31 2017.

While 2013 saw the introduction of RTÉ Jr, a channel specifically for children, which featured programming indigenous to RTÉ as well as acquired content, from this year onward RTÉ Jr will show programming entirely acquired from independent sources.

Most of RTÉ’s programming saw a decrease in 2015, however, factual television such as Nationwide saw an increase of 56 hours in 2015 compared to the 2014 figures.

As well as a decrease in broadcast hours, RTÉ’s spending on programming fell as a whole in 2015. RTÉ spent €1,149,000 less on television programming last year, a small 0.79% decrease. In house productions by RTÉ were down 7% in 2015 compared to 2014, however programming commissioned and acquired by the broadcaster increased by almost 17% in the same period.


Even though there was a decrease in spend, RTÉ’s financial income increased in 2015 compared to the previous year.  They received €178.9m from the television licence fee in 2015, up 0.16% since 2014. They also had an increase of 3.7% in their commercial revenue over the same period.  At the end of 2015, RTÉ had a cash, and cash equivalent, figure of €22,746,000, up 34.6% increase from the previous year.

Young people’s programming within RTÉ has still been cut despite the overall increase in income received, and in cash and cash equivalents, with more time and money being invested in factual programming over the years. It is yet to be seen where RTÉ will invest the money in the coming year.


By Mary Kate Hickey & Rachel D’Arcy

Ireland has been named as one of the top three countries in Europe for social media usage by businesses.

In figures posted by the CSO, it showed that Ireland came second to top, just behind Malta. 64% of Irish businesses, employing 10 people or more, used some form of social media in 2015 – an increase of 16% since 2013. The EU average for social media usage, such as Twitter or Facebook, in a business is 39%.


“I have to say I am surprised by those statistics,” said social media expert at Fuzion PR, Greg Canty. “I do social media training for local enterprises and I am astounded by the amount that aren’t on Facebook, Twitter and the likes. Perhaps this could be due to us having a big SME (small medium enterprise) culture in Ireland, and maybe smaller businesses are embracing social media more than larger ones who may get caught up and feel more anxious about it,” he commented.


Malta had the highest percentage of enterprises utilising social media at 72%, with the Netherlands coming in third, with 63% of Dutch businesses using social media for promotion or otherwise. Poland ranked bottom of the list, with just 22% of Polish businesses utilising social media in their businesses.

“I think many businesses may misunderstand how to effectively use social media. A lot wonder how they can use social media presence to get more sales,” Greg explained.

“I think social media can give businesses a platform to have a conversation with their clients, and not hit them over the head with goods and services they are trying to sell them,” Greg said, on how effectively he thinks Irish businesses are using social media.


In data released by Eurostat, it shows that Irish enterprises upped their usage of Twitter and similar sites by 3% since 2015, with 30% of businesses now using the microblogging site. YouTube usage also increased by an impressive 7%, meaning that 21% of Irish businesses now use multimedia websites to promote their products or                                                                                                                               services.

“A lot of businesses push out posts, but don’t take the time to engage with customers on a personal level. Social media gives businesses an opportunity to show their own personality, which is difficult to do on a website or in an ad campaign,” Greg said.  He added that businesses could even use social media to share stories about the team that works in the company, and really engage with their customers on a more personal level, to humanise the business.

“I’d also advise businesses that if they’re going to exist on social media, then put in the effort and really exist – don’t half do it.  These things need to be maintained at a professional level to keep an open and interesting conversation with customers.  By responding to customers on social media, businesses  can make themselves look really good and customer friendly, and it’s really easy to do,” Greg added.

As well as increasing social media usage as a form of promotion, a whopping 53% of large Irish businesses had e-commerce sales. These e-commerce sales accounted for 50% of all total sales, meaning half of all sales by Irish businesses included in the survey are made online. “E-Commerce has become a big player in the Irish market, and I think that’s due to it making the ‘pain in the arse’ tasks a lot easier to do. Reliable online shopping makes the annoying tasks less so,” Greg explained.


However, more businesses made online purchases than sales.  70% of larger Irish enterprises made purchases online in 2015, which accounted for 42% of overall purchases by large businesses.  Medium businesses made around 20% of their total purchases online, with 58% of this size of enterprise purchasing materials or services online.  44% of small businesses made purchases online, or 12% of small business purchases overall.

“Without a shadow of a doubt it is imperative that businesses use social media in this day and age,” Greg told us.

“It’s all about storytelling – telling the customer about who you are – and now social media gives businesses a chance to have a conversation with customers to add to their story.  Engaging with the customer is where that little piece of magic lies in selling a business I think.”


The Sweetest Thing


A little gem on Bachelors Walk! Inside it is quite small – however, it is far from lacking in portion size.  Upon entering, we were greeted by a huge smile, and we took the only spare table left inside.  The staff were wonderfully friendly and upbeat, and they didn’t seem to mind when it took us an age to decide which delicious desserts to try.  I went for the chocolate fudge cake, and my friend had the largest banana split I have ever seen.  The waitresses even joked about the mountain that they were bringing out. Even though it is small and pretty busy, we never felt like we were being rushed out of our seats and we had plenty of time to thoroughly enjoy our desserts.

Sweet Republic


Only a few yards away on Bachelors Walk is another haven for the sweet toothed.  Sweet Republic only opened last year, but has become a fast favourite in the city.  People were going bananas about it when it opened, and it lived up to the hype.  It has some mouth-watering sweets that could tempt even the strongest willed of individuals.  My hands down favourite is  the Ice Cream Cookie Sambo. They also do shakes, cupcakes and even sweet pizza!

Coco Bó


The only place in Dublin to make your own chocolate bar, Coco Bó is located in the heart of the city on O’ Connell Street.  Coco Bó’s ‘Made by Me’ bars are €2.50 at the minute, on their Autumn special.  The customer gets to customise everything, from the type of chocolate, to the fillings which range from fruit to marshmallows and popping candy.  I got one with white chocolate, marshmallows and dried raspberries – amazing! They also offer a range of ice creams and toppings, as well as coffees and teas which are a welcome sight in these colder months.


Aungier Danger


After opening their first shop a little over a year ago, Aungier Danger has become a well-known name in the world of Irish donut lovers.  They are open every week day from 7:30am, and weekends from 10am until whenever they sell out!  They have every day staple favourites like Oreo Marshmallow, and my personal favourite, Lemon and Poppy seed.  Aungier Danger have made a name for themselves by making some very topical donuts like the Repeal the 8th and Weed Donuts they made earlier this year.

Murphy’s Ice Cream

This delicious handmade ice cream is by far some of the creamiest I’ve ever tasted in Dublin. Tucked away on Wicklow Street – just off Grafton Street – the ice cream bar is a true Irish gem.  The menu gives the names of the ice cream in Irish as well a


s English, so anyone can try order using their cúpla focal if they wish.

They’ve conducted some crazy experiments with ice cream over the years, with flavours like Candied Chilli Pepper and Christmas Pudding! My favourite is the Caramel Honeycomb, though I also love the Raspberry Sorbet.  Even in the cold weather this ice cream is not one to be missed out on.


(Originally published on TheCity.ie https://thecity.ie/2016/11/08/tuesdays-tops-sweet-things-in-the-city/)

Smithfield Christmas Market and Light Ceremony

The City’s Mary Kate Hickey went along to the lighting of the Smithfield Christmas Tree, and talked to some Dubliners about their favourite Christmas memories.


(Originally posted by TheCity.ie https://thecity.ie/2016/11/28/smithfield-christmas-market-and-light-ceremony/)


Mary Kate Hickey speaks to Darren Thornton, director of A Date for Mad Mary about winning at The Galway Film Fleadh, his inspirations, future projects and more. 

A Date for Mad Mary is Darren’s first feature film, which he co-wrote with his brother Colin.  The film starred Seána Kerslake, of Can’t Cope Won’t Cope fame, as Mary.

“It was really cool winning Best Feature at the Galway Film Fleadh. Honestly, it was one of the best screenings we’ve had and the audience responded really well to it, it was really special because it was our first feature film,” Darren said.

Darren Thornton (headshot).jpg

A Date for Mad Mary was based on Yasmine Akram’s theatrical monologue of the same name, which Thornton also directed.

“It all went very organically,” he said about the adaptation from play to feature film. “The characters stayed very similar, but we tried to put more emphasis on the relationship of Mary and her best friend when we were writing the script.  While the play was out and out comedy about dating, the film is more of a drama about real life with comedy in it.

“Myself and Colin are always very interested in exploring deep into relationships and looking at characters and how they’re feeling.  When we’re writing a script we tend to come up with a broad idea, and then use that to tell something that’s quite intimate and personal.”

They changed up the dynamics of some of the relationships when adapting the play for the big screen.  “In the play Mary falls in love with a boy, but we changed that for the film.  In the film she falls in love with Jess, we thought it would be more interesting to explore how the other people in her life would feel about this relationship, would they be okay with it, and would Mary herself be okay with it.”

Mary’s grandmother also played a larger role in the play, being the person who helped to raise Mary, but Darren and Colin felt it would be more interesting to explore Mary’s relationship with her best friend Charlene and her mother more deeply.

A coming of age story of a girl who should have come of age long before, but never got the chance because of her behavioural problems was the story they wanted to tell.

“I’d say some of my inspiration comes from the likes of John Hughes, those coming of age stories are movies we grew up with, and I think they give us a lot of inspiration for the types of movies we like to do,” said Darren. “We’re also big fans of Alexander Payne, Steven Soderbergh and Mike Nichols, and of course some Irish and UK directors too.”

A Date for Mad Mary was filmed mainly in the brothers’ hometown of Drogheda.  “It was great filming at home in Drogheda because I could just roll out of bed and be on set in ten minutes!” Darren laughs.  “The really great thing about filming there is the great support we got from the local community, the nightclubs and pubs literally opened their doors to us, and if we were in need of extras, some of the locals made themselves available to help.  It was brilliant, and it’s not something you’d regularly get anywhere else,” he added.

Darren, who has been making his own films with his friends since he was in secondary school, always knew he wanted to end up in film. “I’ve been leading up to making a feature film for a while now.  I’ve directed plays, shorts, and TV shows before this,” he said.

“My biggest ambition is to continue making films that I love, and to get paid for them would be great too,” Darren said.

The brothers have plans to make more feature films in the future. “We’re currently writing two more feature films, and a TV show, so hopefully we’ll have something new coming out soon,” Darren said.  “The plan is to hopefully do two more films in Ireland and then we would like to go further. We were in LA for the last few weeks, and we would really like to make a film over there at some point,” he added.

A Date for Mad Mary was released in Irish cinemas in September, and will be released in the UK an the US in the New Year, along with a DVD release afterwards.


(Originally published on TheCity.ie https://thecity.ie/2016/12/07/interview-of-interest-darren-thornton/)

How is LGBTQ portrayed in the media?

Mary Kate Hickey examines how the LGBT community is portrayed in the media.

Mary Kate Hickey takes a look at LGBTQ in modern TV and speaks to DIT’s LGBTQ chairperson, Toryn Glavin.

For many years the LGBT community has taken a hit when it comes to generalised stereotypes being used in television and film. The overly camp gay man, or the overly masculine gay man who is compensating for his sexuality are two of the main gay male stereotypes we see in the media.

But these do not represent all gay males, and the LGBTQ community is full of a wide spectrum of gender identities that dont even get mentioned. Society, namely directors and producers, still chooses to show the same tired old stereotypes, often to use as comic relief, because the camp gay male is seemingly funnier than a gay man that just lives a ‘normallife.

“Some shows still use LGBTQ characters as jokes but I do think that portrayals are getting a lot better now” said Toryn Glavin, the chairperson of DIT LGBTQ society.

“Portrayal of the LGBTQ community in movies and tv are getting better.  Alexis Meade in Ugly Betty was a cisgender woman playing a trans* woman, but now we have Laverne Cox in Orange is the New Black as a trans* woman playing a trans* woman, which I agree with more.  I think that LGBTQ actors should be playing LGBTQ roles.” Toryn added.

Portrayals are changing, little by little LGBTQ characters are giving a more truthful representation of all different identities, but this is still only a small portion and very little is being done to make a bigger change.

Actress and LGBTQ ally Kerry Washington gave a powerful speech about equality in all minority groups at the glaad awards in March.  She said in her speech that “having your story told as any member of any disenfranchised community is still very often a radical idea.” 

She also said that there is a need for more LGBTQ representation in the media, more LGBTQ characters, more LGBTQ storytelling and more diverse representation showing lots of different LGBTQ people living all kinds of lives.  More employment of LGBTQ people in front of and behind the camera is also needed.

Peoplesopinions are only going to change through humanisation of the marginalized groups.  The more people see things being shown as normal through the media, the more they are going to accept it as normal. 

“There doesnt need to be an emphasis on a persons character being LGBTQ, it can just be a side fact that doesnt need to be explored!” Toryn said.  “When we can have real people like Sam Smith in the media just being a gay man with no coming out story is great, he was just accepted and loved for who he is. It needs to be shown this way in tv and movies because we are not a coming out story we are a life” she added.

When we break down the walls between gender and sexuality and just see people and personalities, a truer portrayal of all individual identities can be shown.  Just like Kerry Washington said in her speech, the only norm is our uniqueness and the media must reflect that.

(Originally posted in The Edition (DIT) and on Campus.ie (http://campus.ie/surviving-college/tv/how-lgbtq-portrayed-media)