Meet the Cork women changing the world

Hundreds of women will gather later this month in Cork for a major event on sustainability, writes ELAINE DUGGAN
Meet the Cork women changing the world
Chair of Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority: Susan Steele, who will be at She is Sustainable Cork. Picture: Clare Keogh

YOU know you’ve your finger on the pulse when 300 tickets are booked out for your event and there’s still another 100 people on a waiting list.

And so it is with ‘She is Sustainable Cork’ — a free, volunteer-led event to be held at UCC later this month.

The event has been organised by Tara Shine and Madeline Murray of Change by Degrees, Rosemarie MacSweeney, of the Tyndall National Institute, and Sinead Crowley, of Cool Planet, who were inspired by Grainne Kennedy, who brought the event to Dublin last August.

Grainne is an Environmental Coordinator at the University of Cambridge and has worked for a number of years in the environmental sector.

She is Sustainable began in London in February, 2016, and there have been eight such events since. The event allows women working in sustainability to share their stories. Now it is coming to Cork on March 30, at UCC, on the eve of Mother’s Day.

The event includes more than a dozen speakers working in sustainability. The tagline for the event is: ‘She Is Sustainable Cork: A Place for the people of Cork to discover Cork women changing the world’.

Tara explained how she took part in She is Sustainable Dublin, during the Pope’s recent visit to Ireland, and the aim of the series is to shine a spotlight on the work by women in this space. However, the organisers stressed that the event is open to anyone — you don’t have to work in this field.

They said: “We are all about changing the conversation on sustainability in Ireland.”

The focus will be more storytelling, than academic.

The speakers/ mentors taking part include:

Rosemarie MacSweeney — International Energy

Research Centre

Rosemarie began her career in architecture in the 1990s, but has more recently been working in academia and in research at CIT, UCC, CRNI, and now the IERC, International Energy Research Centre at Tyndall National Institute. Her work interests include sustainable buildings and sustainable energy and resource use.

Caroline Hennessy of BiblioCook. Picture: Denis Scannell
Caroline Hennessy of BiblioCook. Picture: Denis Scannell

Caroline Hennessey —


Journalist, broadcaster and author Caroline set up the award-winning Bibliocook: All About Food in 2005. Secretary of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild, a McKennas’ Guide editor and a Ballymaloe graduate, she founded the Irish Food Bloggers Association to promote food blogging, Irish food and small Irish producers.

Eimear Delahunty, Food Cloud Hubs and Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune. Picture: Gerard McCarthy
Eimear Delahunty, Food Cloud Hubs and Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune. Picture: Gerard McCarthy

Eimear Delahunty


Eimear is Charity Network Manager for the FoodCloud Hubs. She has worked with FoodCloud since 2015, and has a key role in improving the Hubs operational effectiveness, managing the charity support team and supporting communities to develop local solutions to local issues using the valuable resource of surplus food.

Sinead Crowley — Cool Planet Experience

With an energy and a passion, she strives to make the intimidating world of climate action accessible to all in her role as design coordinator at the Cool Planet Experience. In her personal life she runs @AGrassrootsAdventure blog. She trained with Al Gore as a Climate Reality Leader — to learn from the experts how to solve the climate crisis.

Deirdre O Shaughnessy — Corks 96FM

Deirdre is editor of Cork’s 96fm Opinion Line. Her interests include sustainability and development and, since having her first son in 2016, she has become increasingly aware of environmental issues.

Eimear Hutchinson — The Two Darlings

Eimear is a Civil Engineer by degree and has a PhD in Agricultural Engineering from NUI, Galway & Teagasc. After her studies she focused on the area of water and wastewater treatment technologies and went on to work in research, focusing on sustainable farming systems.

Eimear took some time out from work as she knew it to focus on her family. Four small ladies later she now focused her time on them and running her blog.

Dr. Celine McInerney, University College Cork. Photo by Tomas Tyner, UCC.
Dr. Celine McInerney, University College Cork. Photo by Tomas Tyner, UCC.

Dr Celine Mcinerney — UCC

Dr Celine McInerney is a Senior Lecturer in Finance at UCC. Her research focused on climate finance is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, Irish Research Council and European Commission.

Ingrid De Doncker — IDDea

Ingrid is a serial entrepreneur in the procurement space. Awarded the SME CEO of the Year 2018 in Ireland, she is CEO of iDDea, a full life-cycle strategic sourcing practitioner’s firm supporting the private and public sector.

She is also founder of PTI, a non-for-profit organisation that promotes procurement innovation and sustainable solutions in collaboration with various EU Initiatives.

Susan Steel — Sea Fisheries Protection Agency

Susan is head of the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency. She is a marine biologist, and gained her PhD in UCC.

As well as having a consuming passion for the sea, Susan is a pilot, a qualified coach, holds two masters qualifications, has seven children and runs ultra-marathons.

Olive Finn owner of The Olive Branch and The Twig Refill Station. Picture Denis Boyle
Olive Finn owner of The Olive Branch and The Twig Refill Station. Picture Denis Boyle

Olive Finn — TWIG Refill Store

Olive is founder and co-owner of two small independent businesses in Clonakilty, The Olive Branch Healthfood Emporium and Twig-Refill Minimal Waste Store.

Michelle O Sullivan — Cork Chamber

Having originally graduated with a Business Degree from UL, Michelle went on to pursue a Masters in Sustainable Development with DIT. She then worked across a range of areas promoting environmental stewardship amongst schools, community groups and businesses.

Michelle now works with Cork Chamber in the area of Public Affairs.

Maragret Desmond — EPA Ireland

Margaret is a geographer with over 20 years’ experience working at the EU, National & local levels on climate change and sustainability. She is the Senior Climate Services Manager in the Environmental Protection Agency.

Dr Marguerite Nyhan — UCC

Dr Marguerite Nyhan is a Lecturer in Civil & Environmental Engineering at UCC. Prior to UCC, Marguerite was a Research Scientist at the United Nations in New York, a Scientist at Harvard University and a Post Doctoral Researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Her interests include environmental engineering, designing healthy and sustainable cities of the future, and humanitarian efforts.

Dr Tara Shine and Madeleine Murray
Dr Tara Shine and Madeleine Murray

Madeline Murray — Change By Degrees

Madeleine Murray is an archaeologist turned entrepreneur and media strategist. She creates engaging content for consumers and businesses that inspires and mobilises change. She is Director of two healthcare companies and co-founded Plastic Free Kinsale and Change by Degrees with Tara after they met swimming in the sea.

Gillian Wall — Dairy Farmer

After graduating as a veterinary surgeon from UCD in 2007, Gillian worked in practice for a number of years before changing to dairy farming in 2010. Sustainable, high welfare dairying has always been the focus and herself and her husband Neil are now on their tenth season milking once a day.

Catherine Sheridan — Eriva.

Catherine Sheridan is a chartered civil engineer and fellow of Engineers Ireland and has worked in local government and national utilities for over 20 years.

She combines her engineering experience with her passion for community engagement on large-scale sustainability projects.

Catherine shares her sustainability interest with her sons, Oscar and Noah, green ambassadors for The Echo.

Dr Tara Shine campaigning for climate action in the Antarctic, beside the MC Ushuaia
Dr Tara Shine campaigning for climate action in the Antarctic, beside the MC Ushuaia

Dr Tara Shine — Change by Degrees

An environmental scientist with over 20 years’ experience working at the global level on climate change and sustainable development, Tara is co-founder of the community initiative Plastic Free Kinsale and Director of Change by Degrees, a social enterprise that inspires people to live more sustainably. She presents wildlife documentaries, and is just back from her latest adventure in Antarctica.

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