I love reality TV and cheesy movies... but I can still be creative and cultural

Person to Person: Maggie O’Shea is delivering a Dried Wreath Making Workshop at GLOW at TEST SITE next Sunday.
I love reality TV and cheesy movies... but I can still be creative and cultural

Maggie O’Shea is delivering a Dried Wreath Making Workshop at GLOW at TEST SITE next Sunday.

TELL us about yourself:

This is actually the hardest question because I think I’m right in the thick of figuring out the who and the what of myself! I’m Maggie O’Shea, a 25-year-old Psychology graduate who has returned to Cork after five years in Dublin and thrown herself back into all things creative; arts, craft, music and anything cultural and inclusive in Cork city.

Where were you born?

In Boston, as my parents did the classic move from West Cork to Massachusetts in the ’80s, and the classic move home to raise the kids in 2000.

Where do you live?

On the cusp of Blackrock and Mahon, a surprisingly isolated spot as an adult without a license because public transport rarely arrives on time or even at all past 5pm, despite the area’s population size and demographics.


I have three siblings, all older than me and all equally as creative. Only the eldest has fled very far (Canada), while my sister lives in Dublin and my other brother remains in Cork.

Best friend?

I’ve recently realised what a tricky question this is for adults and how little that’s talked about, I’ve always ended up with very special friendships with faraway people, I’ve never been great at groups or high-intensity friendships. I have several best friends that support me in lots of different ways, I just wish I could bundle them all up and live with them somewhere (probably nowhere in Ireland with the current housing and cost of living crisis).

Earliest childhood memory?

I haven’t a clue, I can’t really believe I was ever tiny. Probably some vaguely recalled violin performance in the old Cork School of Music building in 2001 or 2002.

Person you most admire?

This regularly changes; at the minute I’m finding so much solace in creatives who speak about the value of authentic human connection and ALSO the natural world. I’m on a huge AURORA buzz at the moment, I love how confidently she exists in such an authentic way. I also really admire the poet Mary Oliver, and resonate with her work. I admire the podcast host Krista Tippett for the incredibly inspiring conversations she has facilitated through her hosting of the podcast On Being.

Person who most irritates you?

At the minute the ‘type’ of people who irritate me are those who can’t see past their own experience of life and remind themselves there is so much to each person’s existence and character. I am particularly irritated by those who denigrate others based on their hobbies or interests being popular or typical.

I love reality TV and top 50 pop hits and cheesy movies, that doesn’t mean I don’t have the capacity to engage with the more nuanced and niche aspects of music and art and media, I just look for the sparklier aspects of life in them.

I get enough grey-scale, food for thought and poignant moments in my day to day.

Where was your most memorable holiday?

When I was 15 I went to Italy with Cork Youth Orchestra. We were touring The Brendan Voyage, playing in venues across the country. In Florence, we played a lunchtime concert under the statue of David. It was meant to be a sort of walk-by affair, but as the sun went down the main square filled up. As we finished, toy fireworks were set off into the night sky and people were hanging out of shuttered windows. We got a standing ovation from hundreds of strangers, right in the centre of Florence. As an amateur orchestra, and amateur human, that was a pretty special moment in my life.

Favourite TV programme?

Everyone should watch the show Years And Years, a BBC mini-series by Russell T Davies. I don’t think it got enough attention when released. Beware, it’ll really freak you out.

Your signature dish if cooking?

It will always be halloumi and mixed pepper fajitas with a side of broccolini, salted, with thinly sliced garlic and roasted.

Favourite restaurant?

Sonflour in Cork is an absolute Gem, a very unique space.

Best book you read?

Birds Art Life Death, A Field Guide To The Small & Significant by Kyo Maclear. I recently got a tattoo of one of the book’s illustrations. A beautiful piece of art in every way.

Favourite song?

This is WAY too difficult

One person you’d like to see in concert?

Rae Morris; her new album Rachel@Pianoland is my newest obsession. Otherwise, Little Simz. Amazing artist!

Morning person or night owl?

Morning person loud and proud! I love the ritual of coffee and stillness in the morning. I do my best creative work before 9am when my brain is too tired to be overly judgemental.

Spendthrift or saver?

Definitely a saver, but not in a proud way. I am terrified of money, and saving doesn’t seem much to quell anxieties around it, so I would like to become better at spending on things that bring me joy rather than worrying excessively about necessary expenses.

Name one thing you would improve in your area in which you live?

The sense of community. In Dublin last year I volunteered with charity ALONE and became an ‘elderly befriender’ of an amazing 92 year old, Peggy, in Dublin 9. Building a meaningful connection with someone in a space where I often felt disconnected and lonely was the biggest confidence and comfort boost of my life. I now have so much time for forging connections with strangers.

What makes you happy?

Being in green spaces, particularly under canopies of trees. Travelling on trains with people I love and whose company and conversation I enjoy. Finding safe spaces where I feel comfortable being in public but being alone. PLUGD in cork (where I type this right now) is a beautiful, calm space selling coffee and records, I like to visit at least once a week. Any interaction with children or animals, they are the most effortlessly authentic members of society! Always open to connection.

How would you like to be remembered?

I want to bring people together in some capacity, to facilitate unlikely connections. I would also love to in some way reduce the disparities that seem to exist within society between respecting creativity and nature and softer elements of life vs. career and academic and financial drives. I’m not sure how to phrase this correctly but I wish these things were pitted against each other less.

What else are you up to at the moment?

I’m definitely impacted by the housing crisis and living at home, in order to save money. I’m taking this time to work on my mental health within an affordable and stable environment, which more people should definitely know about; My Mind - a low cost counselling and psychotherapy service in Ireland, easily accessible both online and face-to-face. For the first time in a long time, I have the space and resources to engage with such services, and am definitely reaping the benefits.

Other than that, I am always creating. I can’t wait to engage with the opportunities groups like Test Site afford to people in Cork. They are a special creation I am endlessly grateful for!

  • GLOW at TEST SITE is a free festive programme of creative workshops and events. It is funded by Cork City Council and is taking place at TEST SITE in Kyrl’s Quay. Learn how to make dry and fresh wreaths, Lino print cards, screen print napkins, repair and swap old and unwanted belongings.
  • On Sunday, December 11, Maggie O’Shea will give a Dried Wreath Making Workshop as part of GLOW at TEST SITE. See www.glowcork.ie

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