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Gael Fours – Four Roller Derby Games in ONE DAY!

If you’ve ever been curious about Roller Derby, come to the Shoreline Leisure Centre in Bray this Saturday. You’ll see four games – including a co-ed and a men’s game!

The worst thing about the increase in the popularity of roller derby in Ireland is the fact that sometimes events clash and you end up having to miss something you were really looking forward to.

Dublin Roller Derby had invited me to announce at their upcoming double-header against Newcastle Roller Derby’s Canny Belters and Hull’s Angels Roller Dames. This meant I was missing out on seeing the boys in action in Greystones, where Team Ireland Men’s Roller Derby were to take on Power of Scotland Men’s Roller Derby – with a co-ed scrimmage as an appetiser, all hosted by the East Coast Cyclones.

Then the by-election in Dublin South-West put paid to DRD hosting their game in their usual venue, so the Cyclones stepped up to the plate and offered a combined presentation of all four games in one day.

The whole lot will take place in the Shoreline Leisure Centre in Bray this Saturday, and you can catch all four games for just €12!  First whistle is at 11.30am and it’s going to go all day! I can’t wait!

 

 

jobfairy

Twitter Tips for Recruiters from the Jobfairy

So far, a whole bunch of you have read my first efforts at de-complicating the process of recruiting on twitter in my How to tweet a job vacancy post. This next post is specifically for recruiters, be they recruitment consultants, agencies or HR departments. Fairy dust incoming!

Bullhorn Reach

Bullhorn Reach is a godsend for busy recruiters, sure, and a great tool. You can share vacancies via your networks very easily, and you don’t need to remember to resend your tweet regularly.

The downside is that you’re sharing the same tweet over and over again. Check in regularly – recraft your tweets and vary your settings. It’s a bit annoying (understatement) when you see the same tweet for the 75th time in a month with “NEW JOB” on the front.

At this point, there are certain jobs (and recruiters) that I’m almost guaranteed not to amplify because I’ve seen the same stuff from them so many times. This definitely defeats the point of Bullhorn Reach!

Also double-check your hashtags are separated by a space. Yes, this is very basic stuff. But I keep seeing it done wrong, so do double-check it!

Check your mentions, not just your retweets

Your mentions! Check them! Another of the downsides of Bullhorn reach is that you’re not actually logging in to twitter to see how your tweets are doing. It’s hard to listen when you’re using a Bullhorn :)

You could be getting comments, feedback or pertinent questions to your tweets and you’re missing out if you don’t check in regularly.

Sure, you have LinkedIn and Facebook to check too – and it’s an awful lot for a busy recruiter. So use a tool like HootSuite, set up all of your accounts and then you can set aside a few minutes a day to check in without getting distracted by everything else that’s happening in your networks.

Like it or not, Twitter is a two-way communications channel. If you don’t use it as such, at best you appear clueless, and at worse you come across as a clueless asshole!

Seriously, don’t just blart all your tweets out at once!

Another pet peeve for this jobfairy is when a recruiter or a recruitment company very obviously decides to “Do their tweets” and tweets a pile of jobs at once. When you do this, you’re minimising the impact of each job that you tweet, and annoying your followers with overload all at once.

buffer app logo a smarter way to shareOnce again there are tools that can come to your rescue. Hootsuite (mentioned above) has a scheduling tool and you can craft your tweets (and facebook and linkedin updates) and decide the best time to share them, spacing them out and maximising their impact. My personal favourite is Buffer – you just add your tweets to a queue and Buffer will tweet them according to your pre-set schedule.

Understand the value of a retweet

A retweet is not an endorsement – as so many Twitter bios say. What it is, however, is an amplification. If someone with lots of followers retweets one of your vacancies, they are seriously increasing the reach of your tweet. If, say, you have 350 followers, and I retweet you, that’s ten times the reach right there.

So say thank you! Not for every retweet, of course. But if someone is consistently amplifying what you’re tweeting, or if a major influencer with a ton of followers picks up your tweet, then say thank you!

Make sure it’s working for you

Social media can be deceptive. “Everyone is on social” isn’t a good enough reason for you to be. Make sure you know what you want to get out of it before you get into it!

Another thing to be aware of with social is that it’s not free! Even if you’re not paying to promote or advertise, you still need to be spending time on getting things right, checking in, and maintaining your presence.

If you have a clear goal, and you’re doing things right, but you’re still not getting any return from your presence or posts, it might be time to re-think things.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or send me a tweet @jobfairyHQ

 

How to Tweet a Job Vacancy – by a #Jobfairy

I run the @JobfairyHQ twitter account. I have over 3,400 followers – mostly a mixture of jobseekers, recruiters, and companies I’ve retweeted who follow me to be nice.
I try to retweet as many Irish jobs as I possibly can. How I do it is to search twitter for tweets tagged with #jobfairy or #irishjobs – then I run through them and retweet the ones that fit my criteria.
1) Must be a job, not an internship
2) Must be based in Ireland (North or South)
3) That’s it.

I also follow a lot of recruitment companies and see a *lot* of tweets advertising vacancies. Here are some simple tips to help your tweet reach as wide an audience as possible

Hashtags Hashtags Hashtags

Only the most dedicated jobseeker will be following every recruiter on twitter. Absolutely nobody will be following every company in the country in the hopes that they tweet a job vacancy.

If you tweet a job vacancy without a hashtag, you will be confining your tweet to your own followers (and the chance that they might retweet you). If you are a giant media company with thousands of followers, that’s great. If you’re a company with followers in the hundreds, then you’re narrowing your pool of potential applicants substantially.

Adding a hashtag – especially a commonly used one – means that anyone searching for that hashtag will see your tweet. It’s more likely to be spread, shared and retweeted. You’re going to get more applications, and there’s more of a chance that the perfect applicant is going to see your tweet.

Some of the more common tags are #job #jobs #irishjobs #hiring #jobsearch and my own personal favourite – the very Ireland-centric #jobfairy. If you’re advertising an internship, then I suggest the #internfairy hashtag.

Don’t just tweet a link!

Jobseekers searching twitter are going to be scrolling through hundreds and hundreds of potential jobs. If you are just tweeting a link to a job without including any indication of what the job is, then eyes are going to slide over it. TELL people what you’re looking for – even if that’s just the job title.

Your vacancy is going to be mixed in with other jobs of all varieties in many different fields. Someone with the right qualifications is not going to know to click on your job if you don’t indicate what it is, and they will filter it out and ignore it.

You don’t want that to happen. Be clear about what you are hiring for.

Location Location Location!

Sure, you might be local, but twitter is global. Specify where the job is located – even if it’s just the country! While the #jobfairy hashtag is primarily used by Irish companies, other more generic tags like #hiring and #job or #jobs are global in nature. Have location turned on in your twitter settings – here’s how to do it.

If jobseekers are looking at the more global hashtags, they will probably be narrowing their search to show just the results near their location. If you don’t specify yours, you’ll be lost in the the chatter and may miss out on a great applicant.

Don’t just tweet it once!

Twitter isn’t like facebook, where popular posts keep rising to the top. If you want to keep your job in peoples’ minds, you’re going to need to tweet it regularly. My suggestion is to tweet once every couple of days – or slightly more often if you’re using a very busy hashtag.

Don’t tweet it too often though, you’ll run the risk of alienating your own followers if you do.

Consider promotion

If organic methods of promotion aren’t working, then you could try using the new promoted tweet feature. I haven’t ever used it myself, but you can focus your tweet based on location, interest, username and a number of other criteria.

 

I hope you gained some insight from this post, and all the very best of luck in your search for someone brilliant. If you think I might be that person, I’m looking for work in the digital marketing or community management line – so feel free to contact me via twitter on @jobfairyHQ

 

Roller Derby Tournament!

Roller Derby Tournament this weekend!

This weekend, Greystones and the East Coast Cyclones will play host to only the second ever roller derby tournament to be held on Irish soil. The last one was in Belfast and was an absolute belter – with Dublin Roller Derby A coming home the overall winners – with Belfast Roller Derby in second place and Limerick Roller Derby in third.

This, Queen Bee Tournament, The Battle for the Garden, is focussed on the B-teams and the newer, less-established teams in the country and will feature the host team, Belfast City Rockets, Boom Town Rollers from Dublin, Dublin Roller Derby B and the Waterford City Viqueens.

Dublin Roller Derby B team are probably the most experienced of the lot, but the four newer teams have had a lot of game time lately and have been impressing me hugely with how far they have come.

The format of the tournament will be ten short qualifiers played on Saturday and early Sunday, followed by three playoff games on Sunday to establish final rankings.

The event will be taking place at the Shoreline Leisure Centre, Greystones – and the all-important afterparty will be on at the Harbour Bar. It’s gonna be mega!

Tickets for the whole weekend cost just €25, or you can go for a single day for €15
You can buy online from Brown Paper Tickets – and if you’re bringing the kids, under 12s are FREE!  The event’s details are all up on facebook too!

Saturday Doors open 11:30am to the public.
Sunday Doors open 10:00am

If I haven’t been fired yet, I’ll be part of the awesome announcer line-up! See you there!

 

On being a Newbie Roller Derby Announcer

Picture it. You’re at the derby game. There are a couple of hundred punters in the audience, many of whom have never seen a bout before. You have a microphone. The sound is muffled, and the audience can hardly hear you over the music. Ten players and seven referees are whizzing around a track at speed, Players are manoeuvring, blocking, passing and falling, then a referee signals and three players are sent to the box for different infringements – play continues. While you’re scrambling at your programme to decipher the name of the jammer who is left on track, she calls off the jam. By the time you realise, you’re trying to announce it while you’re figuring out how many points she scored and before you can finish your sentence, the next jam is lined up and ready to go – you swear creatively, a five year old gasps. Next jam, you announce that the blue blockers should really try to slow their pack down to give their jammer a chance to score some points – the blue blockers hear you and take your advice – to the absolute rage of the red team. Then you launch into a long, involved story about how funny you usually are – while a botched star pass means that the jammer is sent to the box, the pivot doesn’t know WHAT’s going on, and there’s a jammer switcheroo  – the bench coaches are chomping at the bit to tear strips off the head ref, and because you’re not up to date with the rules you’ve no idea what’s going on, let alone what you should tell the audience. And there’s still 15 minutes left in the first half. Ouch.

mordorHere’s the thing. Announcing a Roller Derby bout is not a situation where you can just rock up to the mic just before the bout and say what you like.

Much of the above scenario is nightmare material, but individually, they are all mistakes that a rookie announcer can make. A derby announcer needs to have a solid grasp of the rules, be able to follow the action in a jam – down to knowing which ref is calling which penalty on which player for which action without “coaching from the mic” or giving away what’s happening before the other team has figured it out. At the same time as following the action, they need to translate it for the audience while keeping them entertained. But they can’t allow their personality to overshadow actually calling the game. Add to that taking direction from the head referee regarding timings, plugging sponsors, charities, upcoming bouts and afterparties, making safety announcements, hyping up the audience during lulls and timeouts while keeping them informed of what’s happening, and keeping vague track of penalties, scores and other game stats – and it’s no wonder that most derby announcers are absolute loop-the-loops.

I’ve announced at six or seven derby bouts at this point, and have an absolute blast each time I do it – AND I learn something new each time. They say that the best way to learn is to do – so I’ve been doing as much as I can, thanks to the awesome Irish leagues who are happy to invite me to announce for them. The next step in learning is to get shown the ropes by a more experienced hand. I was lucky to get to pick the brain of Sven Will I Be Famous when he was over refereeing with the Canny Belters of Newcastle against the Cork City Firebirds and the Limerick Rollergirls in Little Island, and had the privilege of working with the legendary El Toupée when Dublin Roller Derby took on Paris Roller Girls in a double header (that’s him in the blue tutu, isn’t it LOVELY?)

That was an experience that really opened my eyes to what it means to be a “mouth”. The man was on top of all of the action, could read the play and translate it for the audience without giving away upcoming manouevres, and managed to be both rowdy and entertaining the whole while. It was difficult to get a word in edgeways (not that I’m complaining) because I just don’t have the ability to dissect the game that he has gained from years as an NSO, studying the action from multiple angles and learning the rules and the game inside out.

So, now that I’ve experienced the gulf between the announcer I am currently and the announcer I want to be, I’ve got a plan of action. The first step is to put myself out there as available in Ireland. I’m currently one of the most experienced announcers in the country, having been a home announcer for almost all of the bouting leagues – I’ll get the full set on the 28th when I visit Belfast Roller Derby to announce for them in their bout against Limerick Roller Girls.

Next plan is to Watch More Derby – I’ve been pretty lax about this, spending more time watching Battlestar Galactica and Buffy than championships, but to up my game as an announcer, I need to be able to follow what’s going on on the track. This means more derby!

The final part of this stage of my evolution as a mouth is to travel and work with more experienced announcers. I’ve applied to announce at the Men’s Roller Derby World Cup next year. I’m not sure how my application will go, but a tournament like that will definitely attract the best of European announcers as well as some zof the die-hards from across the water – it’ll be time to see the greats in action and learn from them.

One other suggestion I’d make to people new to derby who are thinking of becoming announcers – do a few rounds as an NSO first. You’ll learn about the mechanics of the game and what the referees actions mean and it will stand to you when you are holding a microphone! Other than that, just go for it!

See you all in Belfast on the 28th – followed by Dublin on the 12th of October!

 

On Street Harassment

I stood up to a street harasser yesterday and I’m glad I did. Here’s a fuller version of the story.

First, some context:

A train full of people returning from a sporting event is an experience. I got the train from Limerick to Dublin yesterday and the first leg was full of Cork and Limerick supporters on their way home. I was on the train 15 minutes before departure and there were only a few empty seats dotted around the carriages. I didn’t fancy being surrounded by a gaggle of sweaty, sunburned, boozy singer/shouters, so I was delighted to see a seat beside a lone, sober, normal-looking woman. When I asked if I could sit next to her, the first thing she said was “oh thank god, you look sober and normal!” We got talking and she turned out to be a lovely, chatty person. She was also a bona fide stunner with blonde hair, perfect makeup and a cute outfit. It turned out she’d already told a few unsteady men that her friend was on the way to avoid having them sit beside her. One of them had even pawed the sweets she’d brought for the journey before asking if he could have one. She gave him the whole packet to get rid of him!

First leg to Limerick junction was uneventful enough – the train was packed and there was a lot of good-humoured singing, chanting and slagging between the Cork and Limerick lads. Except for the guy who just kept staring at my new buddy. Seriously staring. Not just “Wow, she’s gorgeous”. As in, you could tell he was NOT thinking pleasant things and didn’t give a shit if she noticed or it made her uncomfortable. It made ME uncomfortable and I was just watching him stare. We didn’t say anything TO him, but it was seriously icky.

We changed trains at Limerick Junction and that was the end of *most* of the hurling fans – except for the group of six who were seated behind us and drinking and shouting (yes of course it was the quiet carriage) They were delighted that some “lovely girls” were on the train and wanted us to chat to them, offered us drinks etc. We did banter with them for a bit as they seemed like good-natured guys, but after a while we sat back and stayed quiet. All of a sudden we were flies on the wall and couldn’t help overhearing their conversations and the derogatory things they said about their wives, girlfriends, ex girlfriends, about escaping the “ball and chain”, not shagging the au pair cause she’s too skinny, girls not putting out, girls putting out too much, ugly girls, crazy girls, demanding girls etc etc etc etc etc. It was disrespectful and gross and somewhere on the scale between irritating and infuriating.

So there’s your context – here’s the main event

We arrived at Heuston station and my lovely new buddy and I were heading along the platform. We had reached the front of the train when my senses went on alert as a young woman who had collected her bike and was pushing it in front of her was stopped by a man who stepped in front of her, put his hands on the handle bars and leaned towards her while making a face with his mouth open. My first instinct was that it was HIS bike which the woman had taken, as that was the only acceptable reason I could figure for the heightened level of interaction. After a moment, I realised that the man was invading the woman’s space for different reasons and I could tell by her body language that she was deeply uncomfortable, but didn’t want to be rude. As I passed, I heard her say “No, thank you” and she moved out of the way and continued up the platform. The man’s companion looked at me and my friend and said “He’s weird isn’t he”. I said “Yes, he is” and we kept walking.

I wanted to acknowledge to bikewoman that I’d seen what had happened so I approached her and asked if she was OK, She said she was fine, and I indicated that I’d seen what had happened with the men. She made a shrugging, rueful smile that I took to be a “you know what it’s like” expression, thanked me and headed off up the platform. Almost immediately, I spotted the two men who’d interfered with her bike earlier walking up behind her. I suggested to my train buddy that we walk up beside her to put the men off talking to the woman again and she agreed.

Before we got there, however, the same man reached for the woman’s bag which was hanging from the handlebars of her bike. That was enough for me and I caught up with the woman and interrupted the men. I can’t remember the exact words or even order of the conversation (adrenaline, you know) but I started with ” Hey, don’t touch her bag. Leave her alone.” The guy protested that he was just helping her with her stuff. I asked the woman if she wanted his help and she shook her head and said that she was ok, thanks. I repeated to the man to leave her alone. He wanted to know who the hell I was and implied that he and the woman were friends. Again I asked her if she knew the men and she said that she didn’t so I told them to stop interfering with her and to leave her alone.

At this point the man’s buddy joined in and told me that *I* was interfering and that it was none of my business, but I agreed but said I wasn’t going anywhere til they left her alone. I started to try to reason with them and say that they may be nice guys but that there was no way to tell, especially if they were bugging a woman who was by herself, but they got quite aggressive and insisted I was interfering and that I should fuck off. I basically stood my ground and eventually they started insulting me, calling me an ugly cow and a dry bitch, but they walked off.

The bicycle girl, my train buddy and I were quite wary walking out of the station, in case the men should reappear, so I called over a security guard and asked him to walk with us to the door of the station. We spotted the two men at the tram stop outside and the security guy seemed quite interested in going over and having words with the men, but none of the three of us wanted to take it any further. I had originally been planning to get the tram into the city centre, but I didn’t want to risk further confrontation with the two men, so my train buddy suggested we the three of us adjourn to the pub for a drink, which we did – and we had a lovely time bonding over how creepy and awful some men can be if they think they can get away with it, how terrifying it can be to be harassed or followed by a stranger (yes, we all had experienced this more than once) and how it can be nerve-wracking to stand up to a harasser because you never know how aggressive they will get. It was genuinely nice to bond with these women despite the shittiness of the circumstances.

So there you have it. It’s too late at night for much analysis of the wherefores, so I’ve tried to give you the events as I saw them, straight up as I could. Here are the whys though – from my point of view anyway.

I stood with the woman being harassed for a number of reasons

1) I was sick and tired of hearing and seeing women being objectified and derided that day

2) Having been harassed, I know how it can feel like you’re completely alone when it happens even if there are people around.

3) I know that the woman would have been able to get away from the men by herself most probably, but I wanted to stand up to them and let her know that she wasn’t alone and that I had her back.

4) I don’t want to feel like it’s “none of my business”. Street harassment is EVERYONE’s business. If someone stood up with someone being harassed every time it happened, I think the harassers sense of power would be reduced, making them less likely to harass someone in the future.

As an addendum to this story, when I was getting the DART home, full of warm fuzzies at doing my Good Deed, I overheard a bunch of lads talking about women they knew. One of them was complaining that when he took a girl home, he discovered that “the bitch was on her period. After all my hard work.”

It never ends. But it MUST fucking end.

The End.

 

Cuntbuckets, Mooncups and how I learned to stop worrying and love my period (kinda)

This awesome mooncup plushie is by Unicorn Reality

This awesome mooncup plushie is by Unicorn Reality

This post is aimed at people who menstruate. It may be interesting to those who don’t, but if you complain about it being about menstruation having read it, I’m going to mock you.

I’ve been hearing about the next great leap in feminine hygiene (now there’s a phrase I hate with a passion) for quite a few years now. The silicone menstrual cup goes by many names, almost all of them with a touch of the earthmother off them. I call them cuntbuckets myself – because that’s basically what it is. It’s a little medical grade silicone cup that sits in your vagina during your period. You stick it up there, it collects your menses, you take it out every 4-8 hours, empty it, rinse or clean it and shove it back up for another spell.

Sure, some people have an aversion to their own bodily emissions, but the little goblet of gobbets is actually quite the miracle – it doesn’t absorb anything, just collects it so no dryness, and because the capacity is more than you usually need and it forms an effective seal, nothing gets through so you don’t need a selection of “period knickers”. ALSO, those awkward and creepy photos of girls in nightclubs with their tampon string hanging out could become a thing of the past – wouldn’t THAT be wonderful?

Insertion and removal is a bit more hardcore than tampons, mind, as it can involve a bit of manoeuvring (some folding, pushing, squeezing, twisting, bending and fiddling also), but there’s a definite knack that I’m getting better at after a couple of days. I’m no longer practically fisting myself to get at the damn thing, and I now know what “bear down” means. There’s a little stem on the end that’s meant to be trimmed to size and can be used as a handle when removing. Keep it as long as you can without irritating yourself is the best plan, at least until you’re used to it.

The lack of leakage, the fact that it’s not collecting sweat and farts along with menses, and the fact that it lets my vagina do its thing without absorbing things it doesn’t need to are the major selling points for me, that and the fact that I won’t have to buy another one for at least a couple of years, saving me a fucking fortune on ladycleanliness. Bonuses all round – plus, you know, no lumps of bloody bleached cotton or plasticy “wings” clogging up drains, landfill and being scavenged from bins by wild toddlers or domestic dogs.

So, if you have a vagina that leaks blood and stuff every month or so, give these lads a go – I’m definitely a convert. I have a Mooncup myself – it comes in a little cotton bag for storage in-between times, and the instructions are quite comprehensive and easy-to-follow. I bought mine in Boots, but mooncup.co.uk also has lists of Irish stockists in a lot of towns around the country. There are two sizes – A (for people nwho have given birth without cesarean and other people with vaginas who are over 30) and B for folks UNDER 30 who haven’t squeezed a small human out their vagina – and it costs in the region of €28.

If any of the mental images caused by this post made you feel awkward and/or aroused, be glad I didn’t include actual images. Also, please contact me for my paypal account details. Baby’s gotta eat.

The Good Ship Jobseeker – To intern or not to intern?

image

I sent this poster off with a recent application. I’ll let you know how it goes :)

Applying for a job? There are many of us in the job application boat at the moment, and some are dealing with it better than others. I find it absolutely gut-wrenching to put myself forward to be accepted or rejected. I absolutely hate doing it, but I’ve been out of work now since I took redundancy in September, so it’s time to pimp myself out to prospective employers.

What started out as “I’ll concentrate on college while I move my life to Dublin” turned into “ah sure it’s  nearly Christmas now, I’ll look more seriously when the new year arrives” turned into “I’m terrible and no one will want to employ me and I hate myself.” Having hopefully turned the spiral into depression around – I’ve had plenty of practice by now – I’m ready to get properly serious about looking for something to do for cash. I’ve given myself a month to get a rake of applications in, but really, the job (well, internship) I’ve just applied for is the one I want.

My career change from Radio Production Person to Digital Marketing Person has always had the Arts in its sights. Call me idealistic, but I’d like to spend my charm and effort on informing people about and enticing people towards the wealth of artistic talent and endeavour strewn around the country. So when an internship opportunity presented itself in the Marketing department of the IFI, I was determined to give it my best shot.

I hate the idea of working for nothing, but it seems that marketing internships are the best way to gain a foothold in this industry. If a JobBridge internship is going to pay me slightly more than the Dole – and quite a bit less than the minimum wage for an experienced adult – then that is better than no money at all. Hopefully, the training and experience I would gain would be worth the slightly-straitened circumstances.

It’s an odd one, but I would rather do a genuine internship and get some money from it. The JobBridge scheme is not intrinsically evil – it’s the companies chancing their arm looking for free (experienced) labour that have given it such a bad name. And, well, if the scheme exists, I’d rather see Arts organisations benefiting from it (and providing experience and training to up-and-coming awesome folks like myself) than cheapo companies looking for experienced web developers to make them a website for free, or shelf-stackers, or yard workers, and having the gall to call it an internship.

It’s still something I have to justify to myself, though. I know that the fact that I’m in a financial position to work for very little puts me at an advantage over people with families and mortgages and partners who are also out of work. That said, taking redundancy was in part to enable myself to make this change. I may as well take the opportunities if they arise.

I’m also determined to enjoy the job application process. I figure the more passion and  personality I put into applications, the more positive the initial impression I make will be. Those of you who are now numb from numerous unsuccessful interviews and cover letters will probably tell me that I’m on a short road to angst, but I’m going to try it this way for a while, at least.

Wish me luck – and I’ll keep you posted on how I get on!

What’s in a name?

Image by bump

Image by bump

It’s been quite a journey to figure out who I am. On my birth cert, my name is Sarah Ann Ryan. I read Anne of Green Gables as a kid and began insisting on the E at the end of Ann – why wouldn’t you? My secondary school operated through the medium of the Irish language and insisted I use the full translation of both of my names – Sorcha Ní Riain. During university, I used the English version of both of my names Sarah Ryan for most things, and Sorcha Ní Riain for my Irish modules. For the next two years, I was Sarah Ryan.
I decided in 2005 when I returned to Ireland from a year in New Zealand to use my given forename – Sarah, and the Irish version of my surname – Ní Riain – for everything. I changed as much as I could, but I was surprised that NUIG, where I was studying at the time, wouldn’t accept this. I had to use either the name on my birth cert, or change the whole thing to the Irish translation.
When I finally started work at RTÉ, I began to use Sarah Ní Riain, and gradually expanded its use to all aspects of my life. To change your name to the Irish version in Ireland, there is no need to do this legally by deed poll, so long as it’s the name you regularly use.
It’s been a journey, but I’m happy with my name now. It’s MINE, not some version of my name that some organisation or another is insisting on. My journey towards my own name has had two stumbling blocks.
The first is getting people who’ve known me during my journey to accept that Sarah Ní Riain is now my real, official and only name. For most people, this just takes time, and I don’t mind at all if people forget. The other side to this is people thinking that I don’t mean it, but really, I do. And you might think I’m being flip, but I honestly think this is the only name I’ll be happy with.
My given name – my forename, my first name, my “Christian” name, is Sarah. Not Sorcha. The two words have a few letters in common, but they look and sound totally different. They MEAN different things. Sarah is a biblical name meaning princess. Sorcha means Lightness, Brightness or Brilliance. I prefer the meaning of Sorcha, true, but IT’S NOT MY NAME. The only reason that Sarah corresponds to Sorcha “in Irish” is because of use, not logic.
In Gaeltacht areas, children will be registered with English names like Grace, and then called the “Irish version” of Gráinne for their entire lives.
This has led to the most annoying questions for people with Irish names. A friend’s baby was recently named Caolán – and of course the question they get is “What’s that in English?” Caoimhe, Fionnuala, Cathal, Maoilíosa, Gormfhlaith… they are NAMES. Unless they are commmonly in use as equivalents with the same root – like Sean/John/Johann/Jean – they are  not the same thing, and your given first name should be your name unless you have some odd family tradition.
Now, family names – my reasoning on this is that Ryan is an anglicisation of Riain – so returning to the Irish (i.e. original-ish) version of my family name is no big deal, and indeed much preferable to me.

So there you have it. My name is my name, and now you know why!!!!

P.S., if you want to learn how to pronounce it, it’s nee REE-uhn. The “ní” is an indicator that I’m a girl as opposed to part of the name, so the emphasis is on the REE part!

2012 Easi-Meche Highlights:

The most amazing family portrait of all time.

January:

Falling on my head and getting a concussion. ROLLER DERBY!

February:

Got me a KitchenAid Mixer. BAKING!

Being Line-up Manager for LKRG ROLLER DERBY!

March:

Paris with my choir peeps. SINGING!

May:
Bridesmaiding for my honourable friend Maeve. FROCKS!

BEARDLESS DAD! OMG!

June:

Frankfurt with my derby peeps. ROLLER DERBY! FROCKS! DANCING! NUDITY!

July:

Ayrshire for the Sutton-Kent nuptial extravaganza. Words were said. DUCKS! MOVIES!

Falling in love with a guitar. STRUM! STRUM!

September:

Finishing up after 6 years with RTÉ lyric. LOVELY COLLEAGUES WERE LOVELY!

Becoming a roller derby announcer. AND SHE IS THE LEAD JAMMER OF THIS JAM WHICH OH WAIT IT HAS JUST BEEN CALLED OFF!

Going back to school in NCI! BRAIN FUNCTION ONCE AGAIN IMPORTANT!

October:

Berlin birthdaying with my ladies! EATING! WALKING! ROLLER DERBY!

Shacking up with my gentleman in Dublin. LIVING IN SIN!

November:

Flatlining on an operating table and freaking the shit out of a medical team. STILL HERE, BITCHES!

December:

Triumphant return to Limerick for Ancór Christmas Concert. SINGING!

As usual, I am so glad for the folks I know. Thank you for everything and I wish you every good thing in 2013.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a year to ring in!