The Brain Box – Episode 1 now on iTunes

“We’ve learned more about the brain in the past 50 years than in the previous 2000” says The Brain Box presenter and lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Maynooth University, Dr. Richard Roche.

The Brain Box, a two part radio series for Newstalk 106-108 fm, brings listeners on a quest into our mind to uncover the secrets of the human brain, ‘the most complex entity in the known universe’, asking questions like What is intelligence?, How are memories made and lost? Is madness linked to creativity? and How close are we to creating true Artificial Intelligence?<p>

“It’s the most complex entity in the known universe. You’ve got these three kilograms of fat, and yet the most fascinating capacities come out of it!”
Professor Ian Robertson, Trinity College Dublin.

Richard meets experts in the field, like Professor Ian Robertson and Professor Fiona Newell from Trinity College Dublin, to talk about the brain and the things that we are still discovering every day, including new research into the exciting area of brain plasticity which states that the brain constantly evolves and adapts, even after damage and into old age, which has implications for the rehabilitation of the brain after trauma and in treating diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Episode 1 – How the Brain Works
What is intelligence, how do we learn, think and create? How do we create and lose memories and why have we learnt more about the human brain in the last few decades than the previous thousands? Neuroscientist Dr. Richard Roche unravels the most complex thing in the universe.
Voices you will hear in this episode include: scientists Fiona Newell, John Foxe, Kevin Mitchell, Shane O’Mara and Olivia O’Leary and synesthete Karen Kane. Part 1 was broadcast on October 17th at 7am and 10pm and is now available for free on iTunes.

Episode 2 – How the Brain Breaks
What causes mental illness? is genius linked to madness? What is autism and how should we treat it? And is dementia inevitable in old age? What happens to us in a stroke or brain injury and how can we recover? Scientist Dr Richard Roche explores the human brain and our quest to know ourselves.
Voices you hear in this episode include neuroscientists Niall Pender, John Cryan and Michelle Kelly, Seamus Cunningham, who has early onset Alzheimer’s, and mother of 2 autistic children Lisa Domican. On Air October 24th at 7am and 10pm. Additional content is available on The Brain Box Audioboom channel.

An Athena Media production for Newstalk made with the support of the TV licence fee via the BAI.
The producer is Helen Shaw.
The presenter is Dr. Richard Roche.
The audio editor is Amy Millar.
Researcher/Recordist is Cormac McAdam.
The Brain Box is made with the funding support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and the TV licence fee.

The Kinder Letters – Podcast now on iTunes

The Kinder Letters is a radio documentary broadcast on Newstalk 106 – 108fm about one Irish man’s quest to unravel the mystery of a thank you book that unveils a web of untold stories of human struggle, childhood innocence, and the complex bilateral relations between Germany and Ireland in post-war Europe. This story about war, memory and the power of love airs is now available for free via iTunes

In 1955, 11 year old Irish girl Mary Walshe came into possession of a colourful book of letters, compiled by schoolgirls in Saarbrücken, Germany in 1946. This ‘dankebuch’ thanks the Irish people for their invaluable donations at a time of humanitarian crises after the collapse of Nazi Germany. More than 60 years later, the book passed to her husband Tony O’Herlihy, who as a loving remembrance after her death in 2011 began unravelling the mysteries behind the origins of the book, revealing a complex story about that time in history.

The story of the Dankebuch is shrouded in mystery. I regret that while Mary was still alive we never tried to find out anything about it….So it was a few months after she died that I came across the book again, and I thought now, hold on, Tomorrow has come.

Tony O’Herlihy

The Kinder Letters follows Tony’s highly emotional journey into the devastation of post-war Europe via modern day Dublin and Saarbrücken as he narrates this incredible story of meeting survivors of the original class, hearing first-hand recounts of the time. Historical experts such as executive editor of the documents on Irish foreign policy at the Royal Irish Academy Dr. Michael Kennedy, Irish Ambassador to Germany Michael Collins and researcher in mid-century Irish-Jewish history Dr. Kevin McCarthy reveal Ireland’s largely unspoken positive, yet at times unsavoury, position at that time, such as with the relationship between De Valera’s Ireland and Germany, and the contrasting fortunes of the German orphan children of ‘Operation Shamrock’, against that of the Jewish refugee children housed in Clonyn Castle whose admittance to Ireland had stringent conditions attached because of their religion.

This documentary captures a rare glimpse of post-war Europe through the microcosm of this children’s book, and through a rich canvas of archive, music and interviews reveals Ireland’s position within Europe at a time of chaos.

The Kinder Letters is produced by Robert Hope and Amy Millar of Athena Media

A short write up about the program is also available on The Independent.

The Kinder Letters is an Athena Media Production for Newstalk 106 – 108fm made with the support of the BAI and the TV licence fee. All rights rest with Athena Media Ltd.

Vocal Chords – In Conversation with Christy Moore – now on iTunes

Christy MooreA life lived with the company of song and the singing voice is how Christy Moore describes it and in this his 70th year he shares his journey with fellow singer The Gloaming’s frontman Iarla O Lionaird. Moore traces his vocal story from his childhood growing up not just in a singing family but in friendship with his boyhood friend Donal Lunny. This Vocal Chords special gives voice to Moore’s story, his music and his musical influence. In Conversation with Christy Moore aired August 14th 2015 at 7pm on RTÉ lyric fm and can be downloaded for free via iTunes.
For this compelling one-on-one interview, Iarla visits Christy Moore at his home in Dublin to talk about his relationship with the voice and songs, and what it means to be a singer. Sitting in the very room where Moore creates his music, he shares with Iarla the inspiration for his songs, his love of the folk tradition, and his many influences over the years including Ewan MacColl, The Clancy Brothers, and even being at singers’ clubs like ‘An Goilín’
The singing voice is one of Christy’s oldest and cherished companions, and for that he is “blessed, fortunate and full of gratitude”, but also knowing the remarkable power he has to share his voice with the world, he describes the relationship that the singer has with their audience, saying
“In order to project yourself out to hundreds or thousands of people, you got to open up, you’ve got to open up your chest, your lungs, your voice, your throat, your mind, and you have to reach out in a way that couldn’t do here now, it’s just impossible, I always think it’s a magic thread, that goes from the song and the singer out to the audience and comes back again and this special air is created, that allows us to listen in a certain way allows us to sing in a certain way, allows the work to breathe and shine and sparkle in a certain way.”

The Family of Things 8 – David Gillick

In Episode 8 of The Family of Things, Helen Shaw’s guest is a man known for his winning speed and more recently his winning food – it’s champion sprinter and Celebrity Masterchef David Gillick.

David Gillick, who is now retired from competitive running, still holds the Irish indoor and outdoor 400m records and he won two Gold European medals as well as being a world finalist during his track career. In this episode of The Family of Things David shares his life story, what motivates him and what he has learnt along the way. Today he is a corporate coach sharing his sporting strategies with business leaders and he is also mentoring school students in athletics as well as playing in his local GAA team.

David Gillick tells Helen about the moment he knew he wanted to be a professional athlete as well as discussing his move to Loughborough University, the place that not only furthered his career but where his met his wife, Charlotte Wickham. David’s story of the boy from Ballinteer who made it to the highest levels of sporting achievement is both personal and inspiring and he chats about how his love of cooking grew from his obsession with fitness and how his Granny, now in her 90s, has been an inspiration in life.

Bright Sparks

Bright Sparks is an eight part science documentary series for RTE Radio 1 presented by physicist, Professor Shane Bergin from Trinity College Dublin. The series broadcasts, 7-8pm Sun May 24th – Sun July 12th 2015 on RTÉ Radio 1. You can catch up with podcasts of Bright Sparks via iTunes.

“Scientists are curious people who wish to explore the world around them. Their ideas are sparked by shared conversations. Bright Sparks invites you to listen in on those conversations and understand the root of ideas, discovery, invention and how science works”
– Shane Bergin

For more information on Bright Sparks you can visit the website and view the press release here. Bright Sparks is on Facebook and you can follow Dr. Shane Bergin on Twitter and join in the conversation with #brightsparksradio & #brightsparksRTE. Read about Dr. Shane Bergin and Bright Sparks in the Irish Times.

It’s Your Right wins Silver award at the Appys

The transmedia project Athena Media have been working on throughout 2014 included an iPad app which won the silver award in the “best children’s app” category at the Appys. The Application which is free to download on iTunes includes many of the stories which are featured on our audio and video channels. You can also follow the project at

Leon from Athena Media & Karen from the OCO at the Appys event

It’s Your Right iPad app shortlisted for an Appy

Throughout 2014 Athena Media have been working on the It’s Your Right project for the Ombudsman for Children’s Office with the culmination of the transmedia campaign an iPad app encompassing the stories and characters we were lucky to meet through the project. The iPad application which is free to download on iTunes aims to teach and help children understand their rights.

The application has been shortlisted for an Appy, one of Ireland’s premier digital events and it rounds off a wonderful year of critical acclaim for Athena Media’s work which included an impressive haul at the New York Radio Festival. The winners are announced on the 20th of November which is serendipitously Universal Children’s Day.

Women Mean Business 2014

Athena Media’s latest podcast is the product of the ongoing relationship with Women Mean Business. This video podcast brings together the highlights of the 2014 Women Mean Business conference and awards.

The WMB Conference & Awards 2014 took place in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin October 6th.It was the 8th year for the event which has become one of the most prestigious events for women in business and leadership in Ireland. Key speakers included Niamh Bushnell (Dublin’s first Commissioner for Start Ups) Deirdre Somers (CEO Irish Stock Exchange), Elaine Coughlan (Atlantic Bridge), Paula Fitzsimons (Going for Growth), Margaret Hearty (InterTradeIreland) and Margot Slattery (Sodexo Ireland). Five awards were presented to outstanding women in business in Ireland. Contact for full details. Rosemary Delaney is the founder and MD of WMB Publishing. The sponsors of this year’s event are Newstalk, Boots Retail Ireland Ltd. with The Pensions Authority as network partners for the networking session.

The keynote speaker of the day was Lucy Gaffney Chairperson of Communicorp Group.

Full events details and a gallery of images and biographies on the winners of the day are on Women Mean Business.

This is an Athena Media production for WMB Publishing Ltd. All rights rest with WMB Publishing Ltd. The narrator voice is Helen Shaw of Athena Media who facilitates the event.

Women Mean Business (WMB) Conference & Awards 2014 from Athena Media on Vimeo.

It’s Your Right application released

Athena Media has been working on the It’s Your Right transmedia project for the Ombudsman for Children’s Office since February. The aim of the project has been to educate and inform children and young people about their rights largely through the voices and stories of children themselves. This is accomplished through a series of video and audio podcasts, compiled and brought together in an iPad app which also features additional information on a quiz.  The podcast channels are hosted at audioboom (formally known as audioboo) and vimeo. The iPad application can be downloaded via iTunes. The Irish Times ran a feature on the It’s Your Right campaign and app which you can read here.

One of the highlights of the project was the “Shield” song by Ellen and Carla which they had wrote prior to getting involved with It’s Your Right, throughout the project the song evolved and developed into a wonderful version accompanied by strings and a primary school choir.

‘Shield’ by Ellen and Carla – LIVE at St. Peter’s College Dunboyne from ItsYourRight on Vimeo.

Gold Award Winning Herosongs available as a showcase iPad app

Athena Media is celebrating the news that 4 of its projects won at the New York Festival Radio Awards, including 2 golds, for Herosongs and Citizens: Lockout 1913, as well as a silver award for Science is Everywhere and James Joyce: The Dead reaching a finalist certificate. Full details are available on the awards here.

An episode of Herosongs, heroes of 1913-1916, presented by Thérése McIntyre has been made into a showcase iPad app available for free on iTunes now. The application contains the full episode, additional information, pictures, lyrics, resources and a full transcript to give listeners a broader experience.