Meet the Second and Third Spark Grant Winners

As we were announcing the winner of the first Spark Grant last week, the Nelson Settlement stepped in and funded two more.

So today we’re very pleased to be able to announce that Kay Cairns and Sadhbh Walshe have each won Spark Grants.

This is thanks to the generosity of The Nelson Settlement, a Dublin-based charitable trust, which has provided €2,000.

We set up the Spark Grants programme earlier this year to support freelance journalists with €1,000 grants to report and write great, in-depth, public-interest articles.

Through a crowdfunding effort, 18 donors financed the first grant. Dozens of journalists applied for it, and the donors narrowed the field by voting on the proposals these journalists submitted.

The donors then gave €50 “priming” grants to authors of their four favourite four proposals, and encouraged them to polish these even further. In the end, they voted to give Rachel Lavin the first grant.

Now we are awarding the second and third grants to the proposals that won the next-highest numbers of votes in this process.

Each of the three winners will receive the first half of their grant once the holidays are over, and the second half once they publish their project in their publication of choice.

Kay Cairns

Cairns is a homeless, fat-positive and non-binary transgender activist and barista living in Dublin. They have been affected by sex abuse and long-term trauma, and are battling CPTSD.

A 25-year-old journalist, they have worked in forensic news video verification with Storyful. They have also worked in news, current affairs and lifestyle with the Irish Times, Irish Independent, Irish Examiner, Sunday Business Post, Advocate, RTÉ, TV3, Newstalk, Today FM, Spin, and more. They were also a radio host, technician, and engineer.

Cairns is driven by improving the human rights situations for trans and intersex people through exposing abuses and providing supports. In December 2015, Cairns set up Non-Binary+ Ireland as a support and advocacy space for those outside the traditional trans narrative. They have aspirations of moving further into human rights work, possibly studying law or psychology to improve the situation for trans and intersex peers.

As a Sparks Grant winner, Cairns will be boosting the voices of intersex people in Ireland and the UK while exploring the healthcare abuses made against them. If you would like to talk to Cairns about their grant project, please get in touch at kay [at]

Sadhbh Walshe

Walshe is a filmmaker and journalist whose work has appeared in the Guardian, New York Times, Irish Times, Al Jazeera and New York Review of Books. She was a staff writer for the TV series The District. Her screenplay, The Fiddler, is a 2017 PAGE Award and Slamdance finalist.

As a Spark Grant winner, Walshe will focusing on femicide. Every year in Ireland at least 10 women are murdered by men known to them, usually by an intimate partner and often in their own homes. Sometimes the murders take place in front of the victim’s children, sometimes children are murdered along with their mothers.

National and international research has demonstrated clear links between sustained patterns of controlling behaviour and escalating domestic abuse and femicide: the ultimate act of violence towards women. Yet the state protections that are supposed to be in place to keep women safe, or alive, do not appear to be performing as well as they could or should.

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Sam Tranum: Sam Tranum is co-founder of Dublin Inquirer. You can reach him at [email protected]

Reader responses

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steve white
at 26 December 2017 at 20:10

whats the Nelson Settlement?

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