Úna-Minh Kavanagh

Posted by Sue Leonard on Thursday 12th December 2019

Úna-Minh was born creative.

“I’ve always loved the radio, and I used to create my own plays and stories.”

Brought up in an Irish heritage, Úna-Minh is passionate about the Irish language.

Graduating from DCU, she worked 9-5 on a website for the diaspora. She moved on to other posts, but soon realised a regular job was not for her.

“I took a mini career break and spent three months at Ballymaloe Cookery school, to help with my food writing, but I was unemployed for most of 2015. I took another job, but got depressed, and took the leap to go self-employed.

“I enjoy it. It allows me to do so many things, and I bring my hobby into my career.”

On Twitter since 2009, Úna-Minh came to prominence when she tweeted about a racist attack she suffered. This led to her campaign, #WeAreIrish.

The memoir came through Twitter.

“The editor, Aoife K Walsh, sent me a message last December. I wrote the manuscript in three months, over the Christmas period. I went headfirst into it.”


Who is Úna-Minh Kavanagh?

Date of birth: 4th July 1991 in Hanoi, Vietnam. Adopted at 3 days old and brought to Kerry.

Education: Presentation Secondary School, Tralee. Dublin City University: Journalism through Irish.

Home: “I’m living between Kerry with my Mum, and County Louth with my partner and his family. We’re saving for our own place.”

Family: Partner Pádhraic, and Mum, Noreen.

The Day Job: Freelance bilingual creator of travel, anti-racism, wellness, video game and Irish-language content.

In Another Life: “I would love to work within the video game industry.”

Favourite Books: Not Lost by Sarah Maria Griffin, and On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong.

Second Book: “I’ve written 7 chapters of a novel. I keep dipping in and out.”

Top Tip: “Don’t look at social media while you’re writing.”

Website: www.beforemymamdies.com Twitter: @unakavanagh


The Debut: Anseo. New Island: €12.95 Kindle: €5.99. 

Brought up by a single mum, and a grandfather she adored, Úna-Minh is passionate about her heritage, and the Irish language, but she suffers abuse because she doesn’t look Irish.

“Irishness is subjective,” she says. “People have various routes to reach their Irish identity.”

The Verdict: Honest and thought provoking. Úna-Minh’s passion pings off the page.

Published in  The Irish Examiner, 7th December.

© Sue J Leonard. 2019.

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