‘Dundalk people have been very good to me and I’m very proud to come from Dundalk’
Niamh Shaw is an award-winning STEM communicator, scientist, engineer, writer and performer who has set herself a life mission to get to space as an artist and communicator. She is originally from Dundalk
Can you tell us a bit about where you grew up in Dundalk?
I grew up in Ard Easmuinn. Mum and dad moved to Dundalk from the midlands, and they got married in the 1960’s and that’s it!
Do you still visit Dundalk much?
Yes, I do. I’ve kind of lost touch with a lot of the friends I would have made in school in Dundalk, so when I go home it would just be to visit family. I’m usually up about once a fortnight and if I’m not busy I’ll go up more. But I always love going up to see everybody.
Can you tell us a bit about your new book ‘Dream Big’?
I wrote Dream Big all of last year and some of 2018 as well. It was the third time I was asked to write a book about this quest that I’m on to get to space, not as an astronaut. It’s a story of why it took me so long to allow myself to pursue this impossible quest and what we do when we have set ourselves a task.
It starts with my formative years and where the original passion began and I try to explain why it took me so long to pursue that.
And it’s about giving ourselves permission and really rethinking what we define to be success for ourselves and asking ourselves are we really happy with our lives?
And so it’s about what had to change in my life in order for me to be able to pursue this dream of mine to get to space.
What do you think is the biggest life lesson you have learned through all of your experiences to date?
Well I’m always learning, I certainly don’t have anything figured out. I’m really just being brave enough to be myself as much as I can and I would regard that as the biggest life lesson. I’ve also learned that all of my instincts in life have usually been right.
I was too afraid to pursue my dreams for many years and not confident enough to think that I could achieve something. So the biggest life lesson I’ve learned is to keep moving forward every day towards your goal.
Anything worth doing will always take you a long time to achieve but as long as you have the passion and the fire to complete your goals, thats all you really need.
I would also say make sure to enjoy the journey towards the goal and not just to aim at the goal. I think you miss the enjoyment of life if you don’t do that.
The experience of getting there (when working towards your goals) and the people you meet along the way and what you can learn.
So my biggest life lesson is to slow down.
How do you like to relax?
I’m not very good at relaxing to be honest - I’m always on the go. What I do like is drinking a decent cup of coffee and looking at nature. Either looking at a seafront or a park with loads of birds. I love sitting still and reading the paper.
I love catching up with good friends and family. I love laughing and reading. And just watching a movie with good people. Just the simple things really.
How would you describe Dundalk people?
I don’t know how to describe Dundalk people because there are so many different types of people in Dundalk! But overall they are friendly, warm, very interested and very supportive.
Dundalk people have been very good to me and I’m very proud to come from Dundalk and to see how much people have gotten behind me in the town, and even this interview, so I appreciate all of the support over the years.
Dr Niamh Shaw’s debut book ‘Dream Big- an Irishwoman’s Space Odyssey’ is being published by Mercier Press and is out on March 20.
You can preorder the book here: www.mercierpress.ie