Five people to watch for the year ahead

Remember these names — PJ Gibbons profiles the young Irish people to watch in 2016. 

Five people to watch for the year ahead

Quite frequently, it is those most visible in the public domain regardless of age, gender, or achievement who are championed most and singled out for special attention.

However, quite often it is the smart and savvy young risk-takers and self-starters flying below the radar that truly stand apart from the rest.

As we look towards another New Year, we turn our attention this weekend to the rising stars of tomorrow; the ambitious young men and women set on a trajectory for the top.

From fashion to film, these young guns are already proving their mettle in their chosen industries and are well on their way to making a name for themselves not just on a national level but, more importantly, on the world stage. The following five names are among those who we’re predicting will play a critical role in their chosen profession in the coming year.

Actor Craig Grainger, who made his début on the big screen at the start of 2015 with the release of Irish horror movie Invoked, is a former model with Assets model agency. The blond is set to give Colin Farrell and Jack Reynor a run for their money on the silver screen in 2016.

Meanwhile, 25-year-old Kate Harrington, the daughter of the leading trainer Jessica Harrington, has been making huge strides as a very capable amateur rider over the past year.

In television, former Fade Street star Vogue Williams has seen her fledgling TV career go from strength-to-strength with her documentary series on Irish television. She has also become a popular fixture on the social circuit of late for her DJing skills.

In fashion, Micheál Neeson, son of acting royalty Liam Neeson and the late Natasha Richardson, this year opened a new fashion gallery called Maison Mais Non in London, where he champions young fashion designers, while mezzosoprano Jessica Costelloe, the only daughter of Irish designer Paul Costelloe, is now taking the operatic world by storm.

So, will they all rise to the top of their professions in the coming year? Well, one thing’s for sure: we’ll be watching them closely, and you should, too …


With his brooding good looks, it easy to see how 1.7m, blue-eyed Craig Grainger has made the transition so easily from male model at Dublin’s Assets model agency to Ireland’s newest big-screen heartthrob.

In 2015 alone, Grainger has toasted the release of not one but three cinema appearances; starring in Invoked, Wifey Redux and Staccato.

His debut on the big screen came at the start of 2015 with the release of Irish horror movie Invoked, which saw a group of young people embark on a trip to an abandoned hostel in Sligo. Then, after taking part in a creepy game, all of the protagonists disappear one by one.

Grainger then took the role of Aodhan McAdam in Wifey Redux, where we see the character of Jonathan Prendergast embroiled in a series of messy relationships with his wife and teenage daughter, as his sanity is put to the test when he becomes maniacally obsessed with driving off his daughter’s handsome new boyfriend.

Next on the list is Staccato, which is in post-production. This new film sees him play the role of Thomas in the story of a young labourer newly appointed to tend the grounds of Falgirth, a stately manor in 19th century Ireland. However, a secret romance results in a “possessive, power-play and a betrayal that can never be forgiven”.

Watch this space!


At just 25, Kate Harrington, the daughter of trainer Jessica Harrington, has been ubiquitous alongside her mother at Irish racecourses for many years now and, in recent seasons, she has proved herself to be a very capable amateur rider.

The Co Kildare-born jockey has been riding since the age of two and has been making serious waves on the Irish racing circuit since taking the €140,000 Goffs Land Rover Bumper for amateur jockeys prize at the Punchestown Festival in 2009.

Kate, however, had something of a baptism of fire in terms of her public riding career. While the charity race at the Punchestown Festival is considered a superb event for charity, her first ride in public in the 2007 renewal of that race was an altogether more serious affair.

The reason that there was so much pressure on her was that she was riding no less than Moscow Flyer, the 13-year-old Irish racing legend that her mother had trained to win 13 grade 1 races and had taken out of retirement to contest the race.

While many would say it was all in good fun for charity, the racing public longed for Moscow Flyer to make a winning return to the racecourse and Kate would unquestionably have been feeling the weight of expectation on her. However, she more than rose to the occasion, guiding her ever-enthusiastic partner to a cosy win. It was an excellent start to her riding career and set her up for her imminent transition to bumpers.

She returned to the winner’s enclosure on the Harrington-trained Fionn Tra in a bumper at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival. Then, in 2010, she became a more regular participant in bumpers all around the country. She got back in the winner’s enclosure on her mother’s True Character in a bumper at Navan in December of that year and gained another win courtesy of her mother’s Espresso Lady at Navan in March.

During the 2015 Galway Festival, Kate achieved a lifelong goal by taking the feature race during the opening day of racing.

“I always dreamed one day I would win this race but I can’t believe it’s happened,” she said at the time.


Celebrating her 30th birthday at a fashionable Dublin restaurant in October, former model-turned-TV-presenter Vogue Williams said; “It’s another entire decade of having fun and achieving things I’ve always wanted to achieve.”

The former Fade Street star, who split from her Westlife singer husband Brian McFadden in July after three years of marriage, has seen her fledgling TV career go from strength-to-strength with her current documentary series on Irish television.

Vogue is currently to be seen presenting the documentary series Wild Girls, which is broadcast on RTE 2. The three-part series sees the Dubliner travelling the world to meet “some of the world’s toughest women … whose lives are unconventional, dangerous and lived on the edge”.

In the first episode, the part-time DJ and TV presenter travelled to the US to become an inmate of the Miami-Dade Prison Bootcamp in Florida, run entirely by women. She also visited a women’s prison in central Florida to meet Emilia Carr who, at 30, is the youngest female prisoner on death row.

Speaking in a recent interview to promote the series, Vogue admitted that she was terrified meeting women convicts on death row in the United States, saying; “It was probably one of the most intense things I’ve ever filmed. It was just so draining and exhausting, it was hard to be around that all the time but I suppose you know it’s going to be a good show when it drains you.”

Vogue, who has graced the covers of countless Irish fashion magazines over the years, divides her time between Ireland and London, where she has moved into a new flat after leaving the home she used to share with Brian McFadden.


Earlier this summer, Micheál Neeson, son of acting royalty Liam Neeson and the late Natasha Richardson, opened a fashion gallery called Maison Mais Non in London in a bid to champion young fashion designers. After struggling through his teen years following the death of his mother Natasha in a skiing accident in 2009, Micheál, who grew up in New York, debunked to a “wilderness therapy” camp in Utah for a month in 2014.

“In order to find myself, I wanted to get down to the old roots of Mother Nature,” he said in an interview earlier this year.

“Of course, other articles bigged it up as a sob story about a celebrity child who goes to rehab, which really wasn’t the case,” he said. “What I wanted to address was a lack of motivation and direction in my life.”

The now-20-year-old then moved to London, where he took a job as an intern with Joe Morgan at Chittleborough & Morgan, the Savile Row tailors favoured by Elton John and Mick Jagger. After Savile Row he went to work for the fashion house of Céline for a further three months. His internships taught him about “the power of persistence” and gave him the idea of bringing the disparate worlds of edgy conceptual fashion and Savile Row classic tailoring together.

A regular visitor to Ireland, Micheál has taken a couple of drama classes over the years but for now he’s content to focus on fashion rather than to follow in his parents’ famous footsteps by taking Hollywood by storm.


Celebrated for her “rich, unique tone” and “compelling stage presence”, mezzo- soprano Jessica Costelloe first began singing after being accepted into the Dublin Choral Foundation at age 10 where she trained under the conductor Ite O’Donovan. In 1999 after her family moved to London, Jessica, who is the only daughter of fashion designer Paul Costelloe, attended the junior division of the Royal Academy of Music at 16. After graduating from school in London, she was awarded a place at the prestigious Juilliard School of Music, where she began her vocal studies under the tutelage of Marlena Malas.

To date, the 29-year-old’s operatic roles have included A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Little Women and Madame Butterfly.

The stylish singer has been no stranger to the world of fashion over the years, thanks to her famous father’s design pedigree, and in February 2011 she was chosen by her father to open his catwalk showcase at London Fashion Week by taking to the ramp amid a plethora of well-known British models. Tall and confident with striking red hair, Jessica opened the show in a luscious rose-red Harris tweed coat, which perfectly matched her hair.

In 2013 and 2014, Jessica was a ‘Young Artist’ for Garsington Opera in the UK and, in October 2014, she made her National Concert Hall debut in Dublin with Lyric Opera Ireland and the Lyric Opera Orchestra. In July, Jessica made her BBC Proms début with Grange Park Opera in its production of Fiddler on the Roof.

On January 27, Jessica will take to the stage of the National Concert Hall, where she will be a guest soloist in the anniversary celebrations of The Dublin Choral Foundation.

More in this section

ieParenting Logo
Writers ieParenting

Our team of experts are on hand to offer advice and answer your questions here

Your digital cookbook

ieStyle Live 2021 Logo
ieStyle Live 2021 Logo

IE Logo
Outdoor Trails

Discover the great outdoors on Ireland's best walking trails

IE Logo
Outdoor Trails


The best food, health, entertainment and lifestyle content from the Irish Examiner, direct to your inbox.

Sign up
Cookie Policy Privacy Policy FAQ Help Contact Us Terms and Conditions

© Irish Examiner Ltd