Ruairí McKiernan

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Ruairí McKiernan
Ruairí McKiernan.jpg
Cavan, Ireland
OccupationSocial entrepreneur, activist
AwardsFulbright scholar

Ruairí McKiernan, born 1977 in Cootehill, County Cavan, Ireland), is an Irish social entrepreneur and campaigner on youth, community, health, and social justice issues. In 2012, he was appointed to the Irish Council of State by President Michael D. Higgins.[1] In December 2017, he was selected by Ashoka as one of the top 10 people leading social change in Ireland.[2]

In 2004 McKiernan founded the national youth organisation in Ballyshannon, County Donegal. He was CEO there until October 2011. McKiernan was a co-founder of the Possibilities civic engagement initiative, which hosted the Dalai Lama's 2011 visit to Ireland.[3] He is also a co-founder of Uplift, a progressive civic action movement, a founding board member of the Soar Foundation, and part of the founding team behind the A Lust For Life mental health and wellbeing organisation. In 2013 he was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to undertake civic engagement research in Berkeley, California. In 2017 he launched the Love and Courage podcast, which profiles leading thinkers and activists from around the world.

McKiernan received a BA with distinction in Business and Management with HR from the University of the West of Scotland and later worked as a youth worker, web designer, researcher, and community organiser.[3]

He is the recipient of several awards including a Social Entrepreneurs Ireland award, an Irish Internet Association Net Visionary Award, and a Junior Chambers International Ireland award.[4] In 2013 he was awarded a European Next Generation Leadership scholarship by the Korea Foundation.

McKiernan is a regular contributor to media outlets including the Irish Times, the Irish Independent, the Irish Examiner, RTÉ TV and radio, TV3, the BBC, and the Huffington Post. Media work has included an interview with Noam Chomsky and a video interview with Aaron Swartz that featured as part of the documentary The Internet's Own Boy.

McKiernan was involved as a board member of the We The Citizens initiative[5] and was appointed by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to the voluntary board of Gaisce – The President's Award.

In 2013, he undertook a "Hitching for Hope" tour to listen to the voices and visions of the people of Ireland.[6] In 2016, his "New Ireland Rising" video commemorating the 1916 Rising went viral online.[7] In 2017, McKiernan helped organize a civil rights rally in the Riverside Church in New York.[8] He is also one of the founders of the Gaelic Voices For Change movement that involves sports stars engaging on social issues, including homelessness.[9]


  1. ^ "Council of State nominees unveiled". Irish Times. 6 January 2012.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "Irish Times interview with Ruairí McKiernan". The Irish Times. 4 April 2011.
  4. ^ "Social Entrepreneurs Ireland - Awardees".
  5. ^ "We The Citizens".
  6. ^ Here’s what I learned from hitching around Ireland,, August 2013
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • Profile in One Wild Life, book on global change makers by Clare Mulvaney, pp 33–37. ISBN 978-1905172887

External links[edit]