Sep 19, 2017

The Trinity Twenty

By Donal MacNamee, Dillon Hennessy and John ConwayIllustrations by Stephen Paul Paclibar

Much like the 127th annual Il Divo tour, the Trinity 20 is back by altogether mystifying demand. It’s the list everybody says they don’t care about, but will undoubtedly sneak into the bathroom to read and/or cry over at the earliest opportunity. Save your tears, we’re not interested.

In putting together this list, we performed more electronic surveillance than all the Russian intelligence agencies in the world combined. Or even you after your last break-up, saddo. Seriously though people, you all need to adjust your privacy settings on Facebook. But if we ever did meet the people set out below in real life, we’d be too starstruck to form coherent sentences, so it’s probably best that our stalking was remote. These 20 (give or take) students are the up-and-coming talents of our generation, the bona-fide Big Names On Campus™, the who’s who, the next big things. And they can pop that on their Linkedin.

1 Alice MacPherson

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union Education Officer


Alice McPerson has excellent MacPeople skills. Yes, that was the best joke of the Trinity 20. If you didn’t like it, it’s your fault. The same way it’s your own fault if you don’t appreciate next year’s Education Officer. Strong. Formidable. Competent. Just the qualities you need to make the position relevant again. It’s a perennially underappreciated role, and though the election is usually as uncontested as a Sinn Féin leadership challenge, this year’s officer has all the characteristics needed to drive her to the nosebleed-inducing heights of the Trinity 20’s top spot.

However, with the ongoing implementation of the seemingly never-ending Trinity Education MacProject, MacPherson will have her work cut out as she seeks to have her say in how Trinity will be run for years to come. Behind a megaphone she is truly MacFearsome, and once on the warpath, she will repeal literally any constitutional amendment that comes before her, ESPECIALLY the ones between the seventh and the ninth. Add in an impending decision on higher education funding, and you can see why this Newcastle native is the Geordie Shore of the Student’s Union. You just can’t look away. Forget Ents, the various funding models presented by government expert groups are where the party’s at. And we’re willing to bet that MacPerson has the MacPersonality to pull it all off.

2 Kevin Keane

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union President


When we wrote last year that leading the SU would be a tall order, we didn’t expect to be taken quite so literally. Kevin Keane’s large shadow looms large over the Trinity 20. Largely. Having run a campaign solely on the basis of being tall, Keane’s tenure as TCDSU President was preceded by numerous high-profile roles on campus: Deputy Chair of TCDSU Lobby Group, President of SUAS Trinity, telecommunications transponder, the actual Campanile. Rumour has it that he’ll be acting as the College Christmas tree during this year’s festivities.

The year is shaping up to be a big one for the students’ union president, what with ongoing crises in higher education funding and accommodation, an impending referendum on the eighth amendment and the union’s pledge to supply ground and air support for Israeli defence forces in the West Bank, in complete violation of international humanitarian law. Keeping a lid on this controversial aspect of his administration could be a long stretch, as Keane’s utter failure to publicly admonish and take decisive diplomatic or military action against the Myanmarese government for their recent transgressions leaves another blight on his record. We implore Kevin to “think big”, and recognise the inadequacy of his responses to an international humanitarian crisis.

3 Conn McCarrick

President of the University Philosophical Society


In his pitch for Phil presidency – a success, naturally – Conn McCarrick described himself as “approachable”. The University Times will have to take his word for it, not having yet managed to pluck up the courage to do any such thing as talk to him. We’re getting anxious just thinking about it. Perhaps it’s the aroma of success which emanates from his tuxedoed self like freshly-baked bread. The University Times likes bread. Someday we’ll talk to him. Someday. His Linkedin page would make us jealous, if we had a Linkedin page. Instead we spend our days reading Conn McCarrick’s. We still haven’t reached the bottom of it. McCarrick is Dr Phil (yes, we stole thjat joke off his Instagram page. It’s research, okay?), having scaled the slippery ladder of power without leaving so much as a blemish on his crisp white shirt. As President of the Bank of Ireland University Philosophical Society, not only will Conn be nurturing discourse, but providing low-interest student loans* and access to high-yield insurance bond markets from his office in the HSBC Graduates’ Memorial Building. His accessibility truly knows no bounds, so call into your local representative today, where you’ll surely find him having a few friends over to the house he paid for all by himself.

4 Clare McCarthy

Fourth-year English and Chair of Trinity Publications

McCarthy breaks into the Trinity 20 as Head of Pubs. From quaint nooks like the Duke, student staples such as Doyles and the tourist traps in Temple Bar, she has an awful lot on her plate. Except obviously that’s not a real position. No, McCarthy is in charge of Trinity’s Publications Office for this academic year (apparently this one is an actual position). With around six publications under its umbrella, two of which, arguably, people actually read, McCarthy will have her hands full ensuring libel lawsuits (we’re looking at you, Tom and Manus) and those godforsaken “articles” in the form of Erasmus diaries, are kept to a minimum this year. That should be no trouble, as McCarthy, a keen athlete and DUHAC stalwart, has vast experience working with quality publications, and also Trinity News, where she was Sports Editor for two years. First port of call might be replacing the now defunct financial magazine, The Bull. Here are some potential candidates we threw together after spending 13 hours just staring at the door of the Pubs office and wondering what was going on inside: The Students For Victoria Justice and Against Water Charge Fees in Palestine Literary ReviewVernal Equinox Edition. The Shrek 2 Farmers Almanac. Schols Weekly: A biennial magazine for scholars on the go. Scholls Weekly: A bicentennial guide for Podiatrists on the go. Skulls Weekly: A once-off pamphlet for fans of Kong: Skull Island on the go. And of course, Eminem’s Essential Elementary Guide to Eminent Meninists for Contemporary Feminists.

5 Manus Dennison and Tom Cantillon

Editors of The Piranha

Tom Cantillon doesn’t just work summers at the National Stud, he is the National Stud. Unfortunately that one-liner wasn’t enough to secure himself or Manus Dennison a position on the Law Soc Committee this year, so they have settled for sharing the editorship of Trinity’s satirical publication The Piranha. It’s a year of revolution for The Piranha as it aims to go online, at last moving into the 21st- century and (hopefully) out of the Phil council room. Following his tenure at not one, but four corporate internships, Dennison’s lack of soul is rivalled only by his complete absence of respect for any form of authority, including the laws of thermodynamics. How does he get his hair so high, his ego so inflated? Now you know. Neither the laws of god nor man can constrain Dennison, as he aims his sharpened pen at the denizens of Trinity’s great and good/establishment – the Phil, Law Soc, Trinity Orchestra – all natural enemies of this rebel without a cause. As for Cantillon, he’s a sweetheart. Feed him some sugar lumps and he’s sure to reward you by trotting out a pun, or cantering through a series of well worn riffs on late-stage capitalism. Yes indeed, saddle up for a truly biting year at Trinity’s own watered down, undergraduate version of Private Eye.

6 Aine Palmer

Fourth-year English and Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union Gender Equality Officer

The TCDSU Gender Equality Officer is sure to have a busy time of things this year with a referendum on the eighth amendment looming, further work to be done on the women in leadership campaign, and let’s just get this over with in advance, the need to address the fact that three men wrote this year’s Trinity 20. As head of Dublin University Gender Equality Society (DUGES) last year – not the Feminist Society, due to the best efforts of the patriarchal Central Societies Committee – Palmer was active as part of the Strike for Repeal Movement, which legitimised laziness as it combined it with activism, by allowing everybody an hour off lectures in protest. Attendance in the Arts Block remained unchanged and thoroughly depleted. Slacktivism at its finest. Cork by birth, vegetarian by grace of God, Palmer’s biggest claim to fame came when she appeared in a Vice article, describing Trinity Ball as “a little bit pretentious”. Yes, we’d forgotten to mention Palmer has also secured the role of Captain Obvious for the year ahead. For God’s sake, let us upload iPhone photos of our polaroid printouts in peace.

7 Ciarán Wadd

Final Year Irish and French

Ciarán Wadd lives by the old Irish proverb “is fearr Gaeilge briste ná Béarla cliste” – broken Irish is better than clever English. Which renders largely futile our attempts to impress him with the cleverness of this paragraph. Wadd is best known for his work with An Cumann Gaelach, which in April was crowned best student Irish language society in the country for the 700th year in a row, which by default also makes them the best Irish language society in the world and probably the universe too. We’d have to check with Astro Boy™ to be sure. But we bet you didn’t know that he’s also basically the Jackie Ó Chan of the Irish-speaking community, known as Sensé Wadd. Truly a fighter of the good fight, then, especially if it involves a spinning heel kick and decolonisation. Take him on at your peril. When he’s not throwing his weight behind worthwhile causes, Wadd can usually be found walking around campus with a dreamy smile as another witty Instagram caption swims fully-formed into his mind’s eye. In Irish, of course. You heard what we said at the start, didn’t you? Amadán.

8 Tom O’Malley

Final-Year Social Work and Social Policy

As head of the college branch of the Society of St Vincent de Paul (Trinity VDP), O’Malley is the best human being on campus. He’s even more loveable than the stars of Trinity College Doggos, and marginally better at not defecating in public. Overseeing the seemingly endless list of charitable activities run by Trinity VDP is a quite the burden, but O’Malley plans to add to his workload by undertaking a monumental task this year as he attempts to overhaul Trinity VDP and make it even more socially conscious by re-branding as Trinity Vegan de Paul. Yes, not only will the VDP continue to improve the lives of people around Dublin, but now they will be saving the lives of animals too. Gosh, they’re just the best. Building upon one of their most popular activities, the weekly soup-runs, O’Malley plans to bring a groups of budding volunteers to struggling farms to feed pigs in what will surely be known as “Slop-runs”. The year promises big things for Trinity Vegan de Paul as their vast swathes of cheerful, smiley, tireless volunteers will finally be mobilised into action as they take on both poverty and the unethical treatment of animals. Donations are open now. Your change can make a change.

9 David Ola

Second Year Human Genetics and President of JCR

There are certainly many bon jours to be had in Halls this year with Ola at the head of Trinity Halls’s own mini SU. Actually, this seems like an opportune time to ask what exactly the JCR is? Is it like a model UN but everyone is from the North? Maybe it’s the fact that Northern accents carry but walking around Halls last year you’d think you were in Dungannon. Ola was elected on a platform of “intra-house participation and interaction”, which demonstrates that he was a truly exceptional candidate, because nobody knows what the hell that means. Though it does bear a disconcerting similarity to the rules of an orgy we once attended in the GMB, come to think of it. Cheap digs at the Hist aside, you know the JCR is in safe hands with Ola, a man with experience as a hockey goalkeeper. Actually, he probably picked up some skills on the pitch that will transfer nicely into the political realm. Deflection and obstruction, at the very least. All eyes are on Ola to see if his time will be met with a chorus of olés or an apathetic aloha goodbye. Or, more likely still, an indistinguishable cacophony of competing Northern accents.

10 Dominic McGrath

Editor, The University Times

The first draft of this entry was criticised for being too long and not funny. Much like a conversation with McGrath himself. It’s a sad story, how this plucky Northerner became involved in journalism. He was bitten by a radioactive higher education specialist at a conference for red-and-blue beanie enthusiasts. But he didn’t get any superpowers. Just tetanus, and a truly unfortunate interest in all things higher education. Having tetanus is the better conversation starter, and has proven less of a hindrance to his sex life. Now the media magnate, third-rate hat model, and Paul Weller at a Warlock convention lookalike has a big year ahead of him as the Editor of Trinity’s greatest publication, The Third Level Funding Options and Miscellaneous Other Trivialities Times (UT). McGrath is truly the hackiest of hacks. In fact, you’d think that this bleeding-heart liberal on a crusade to hold power to account would hail from somewhere progressive, but no, he’s actually from Omagh, Co Tyrone. However, the humble, down-to-earth, GAA-loving country boy who salvaged his first pair of Doc Martins from a dumpster died the day he set foot on campus. How can such a person sleep at night? A very good question, and one which conveniently sets up our closing line. Cuddled up under a duvet quilted with UT issues, cradling a Jeremy Corbyn teddy-bear made from woolen hats and his own facial hair, that’s how.

11 Jessica O’Neill

FINAL-YEAR LAW and Auditor of the Law Society

If the rumours are true that Law Soc is home of the Huns, then O’Neill could be a reincarnation of Attila himself. Ruler of the new Hunnic Empire from 2014 to present, she is also the leader of a tribal coalition consisting of Law Lads, BESS heads and boys called Iasc. A tough gig, but O’Neill is the auditor of Law Soc for crying out loud, and the single-handed conqueror of most of Eastern and Central Europe. Thracians, Dacians, and all the votes in first-year law fell beneath her thundering hooves and fiery spear. She still dreams about it in moments of extreme stress, which she may have a lot of this year as she manages the Tesco Own Brand version of the Phil (think Joe Brolly instead of Madeleine Albright, custard creams instead of macarons). Does anyone have any good remedies for getting the smell of burning horse flesh out of a Moleskine notebook? Hit her up.

12 Séimí Campbell

Final-Year Music

As victories go, it was a pyrrhic one. Séimi Campbell’s first-place finish in the Donegal Under Seven poster competition in 2003 (Google it, it’s actually a thing) was amazing. His creative peak. The €38 cheque he received that day has tragically served to undermine all his accomplishments since, a constant reminder that, no matter what he does, his best days are behind him. But a man’s gotta try, right? Campbell has spent the intervening years like a lost sailor, wandering from successful enterprise to successful enterprise, seeking in vain to rediscover the emotional and creative nirvana he reached in first class of primary school. There is a plethora of material in the online archives of various Donegal newspapers describing his exploits directing and producing various musicals in his place of birth. Unfortunately, the Donegal Democrat charges fifteen cent for its archives, and The University Times can’t afford that these days. We do know that he has directed two Halls Musicals. We know that last year he directed, to universal acclaim, Trinity Musical Theatre Society’s performance of West Side Story. And we know that he’s directing the society’s production of Evita this year. So don’t worry about him reclaiming the creative heights he once occupied. Don’t Cry For Séimi, Argentina.

13 Anna McCollum

Fourth-Year Medicine

And with this entry, we have met our quota for heads of BioSoc and token medical students in one fell swoop. The end. But if we had to go on, which our editor insists we do, we’d draw attention to the significant challenges Anna McCollum must overcome as she starts her stewardship. Primarily, what witty slogan will feature on the back of BioSoc’s hoodies this year? “We bury our mistakes” remains a classic of the genre. McCollum, when she isn’t saving lives, sails through life with the ease and grace of a sailing instructor at the Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club, or a former sailing instructor at Chicago Sailing. Just two random metaphors for you there, plucked from thin air for no reason whatsoever. No doubt hoping that it’s all plain sailing for the society and that the nautical-themed puns are over, McCollum will have her hands full helming the good ship BioSoc and its motley crew. To put it in a language landlubber non-medicine students can understand (the language of The Pirates of the Caribbean movies) McCollum will want to organise a Med Ball more Curse of the Black Pearl and less Dead Man’s Chest.

14 Kate Haley

Final-Year English

This fourth-year English student is back from Erasmus and ready to make her mark on Trinity’s cultural landscape at the head of the Trinity Arts Festival. Definitely not just a vehicle for free Trinity Ball tickets, the week-long festival promotes the “creative dimension of the student community” and cultivates the bountiful artistic talents within Trinity’s walls. And who could forget that random bike installation by the Main Stage last year. Truly, art soars above all objective ideas of “good”, “useful” or “free Trinity Ball tickets”. Remembered fondly by her former co-council members on the Phil as “Who?” or “Does she even go here?”, Haley would have been reprimanded by her overlords on council for spending too much time furthering the society’s interests and not enough time mitching their events to go out partying, if they could ever find her. She is to be commended for taking a break from her exertions to follow her artistic instincts. And now – having finally stepped out of her twin sister Ciara’s Radius – this prolific Donegal gal is ready to take a step back from work on the front lines and focus on big creative decisions. Like where to put that bike this year.

15 The Long Sisters

Fourth Year Engineering and Third Year BESS

We’ve been fans of our next entry for a long, long time. In fact, we’d lay claim to being the longest-serving Long fans in the world. Apart from Mr and Mrs Long, of course, who have known Ailish and Jenny Long even longer. The two sisters – one in fourth year, one in third – have been known, during those long winter nights, to reminisce about their first hockey stick. It was their dad’s, broken in half. The stick had been too long for the Longs. So they shortened it, until it was precisely the right length of long. At which point the Longs tore up the script, and made an awful lot of progress in a very short period of time. They have both represented Leinster in hockey at underrage level, and in April were picked for the Irish Universities Team. For Trinity, they were an integral part of the first team’s unbeaten season last year, which saw them promoted to the highest league in Ireland for the first time ever. So to make a long story, well, Long, these two sisters are exceptionally good at what they do. Let’s hope they’re around for a long time to come.

16 Cormac Larkin

Incoming student

Cormac Larkin, henceforth referred to as Astro Boy™, enjoys a uniquely meteoric rise to the heady heights of the Trinity 20. If there was a Venn Diagram for students who have featured on this list as incoming first years and students who have an asteroid named after them, Astro Boy™ would be the sole inhabitant of that exceedingly small centre segment. Unless your parents christened you “Sputnik” or “The Sea of Tranquillity”, you’re probably one of the vast majority of Trinity students who don’t have a piece of cosmological real estate floating through the heavens with their name on it. That’s right, this aspirational astronomer has already left his mark on the cosmos, and you can’t even get out of bed in the morning. What’s that? You’re focusing on your 2.1? Talk to me when you’ve mapped your first celestial body, bucko. The rising star of astronomy in Ireland, this is looking like the year Larkin goes supernova. But we do hope he has a secure satchel in which to keep his lunch money. The big nerd.

17 Aoife O’Sullivan

Final Year Irish and French

If this list was determined by how much fun the person was, Aoife “Banter” O’Sullivan would top it. And the list would be a lot shorter. As it is, Aoife “Craic” O’Sullivan powers her way into the Trinity 20 this year after twice breaking the Irish national deadlift record. The last time a lad asked her if she needed help in the gym, she threw him over the Campanile. Often seen crushing huge weights in Trinity’s sports centre, Aoife “Shits and Giggles” O’Sullivan first set a new national record in competition in Copenhagen before smashing her own effort in Minsk just months later. Then Aoife “Pathological Laughter” O’Sullivan smashed her own record, lifting 162.5kg despite recovering from an ankle injury and a dose of the flu. When this writer has the flu he won’t even lift the shopping. Aoife “Good Time Charlie” O’Sullivan is definitely the athlete to watch in a rapidly growing field. If Jamie Vardy’s having a party, then Aoife “Nitrous Oxide” O’Sullivan will be there, with bells on. Dumbbells. Get it? No? Us neither.

18 Louise Mulrennan


Louise Mulrennan is perfect. Too perfect. TCDSU Class Rep in first year, TCDSU Gender Equality Officer in second year, public relations officer for ELSA in third year, star netball player, campaign consultant to every candidate in last year’s elections. How could anyone find fault with her, the exemplary student in the liberal hub that is Trinity? In a shocking turn of events, it has been revealed to The University Times that Mulrennan has been working as an undercover agent for alt-right propagandists Breitbart News. More like Mole-rennan. Her undercover exploits undermining Ireland’s bastion of liberalism are set for the screen, as the fruit of all her labours – a Steve Bannon-produced documentary detailing her time in college, ‘The Unholy Trinity: Dispatches from a Liberal Echo Chamber’ – will debut at this year’s Trinity Arts Festival. Whatever your views on that frankly absurd turn of events, with so many law students on this list, it was inevitable she’d charm her way in.

19 Noah OBG

TCDSU LGBT Rights Officer

Noah OBG eats fascists for breakfast. Cannibalistic tendencies aside, standing up against inequalities is hungry work and Noah has taken down many foes through their prolific activism: the Catholic Church, the Nixon administration, OJ Simpson. Okay, we made that last one up. Having led movements for LGBT rights and the repeal campaign during their time in college already, this promises to be Noah’s most profitable year yet, as Trinity’s go-to glitter dealer seeks to consolidate their stranglehold on the market for sparkle: Any time, any place, any shade. As LGBT Rights Officer, this year Noah “The Notorious” OBG plans to lift people from their “Everyday Struggle” and give them “One More Chance” to see that the “Sky’s the Limit”. OBG truly has the world under their thumb. Well, they would, if they ever took it off the button of their megaphone.

20 Sadhbh Sheeran

Fourth-year science

Sadhbhdhbh Sheeran is contradiction personified. She’s a science student who pulls strings all odhbher the Arts Block. She’s from rural Donegal, but she’s literate. Edhbhen her full name is a collision of the old Irish word for sweet and the faux Irish-stylings of Britain’s biggest pop superstar. No relation. Sadhbhdhbhdhbh has orchestrated more successful TCDSU campaigns than most people hadhbh attended lectures. In many ways one of the purest entries on the Trinity 20, through sheer name recognition, Sadhbhdh Sheeran is simply a name anyone in the know, knows. Just don’t ask us to spell it. Unencumbered by society politics this year, she can focus on her work for Amnesty International, where she sits on the National Board. Sheerandhbh’s role naturally sees her defending human rights. The sort of worthwhile work you dreamed of doing before you sold out. You corporate pig. Yes, it’s definitely safe to say that Sadhbhabklsafnjkdlajksajioewjakldj makes it onto this list on merit. And not just because she used to let Dominic McGrath borrow her hair-straightener when they were roommates.

Niamh Egleston contributed reporting to the Trinity 20.

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