Published 19.07.2019
by Kids’ Own

Orla Kenny

This week, friends, colleagues, and those from the Kids’ Own community, remember our former creative director, Orla Kenny.


Contribution from Mary Branley


The seeds you planted


i.m. Orla Kenny July 2018


May your spirit glow

shining, golden.

May your vision grow

almost blinding.

May you travel on

for all time knowing,

the seeds you planted here

are growing.


When we meet again,

in the forever,

we’ll embrace as friends,

banish sorrow.

May your wisdom know

the goodness you’ve done here.

May your heart find rest in us.



Contribution from Sharon Kelly



The boot of Orla’s car would be filled to the brim with arty materials, boxes of things, rolls of this and that – odd things; whatever might offer potential…


I would travel from Belfast to meet her and Jo on the road somewhere between points out West (perhaps Galway) for a road trip; a mission to meet and engage children, get creative, generate material that would become the magic for a book.


I began working on Kids’ Own projects in 2000, around the same time Orla herself began working there.  Then over the intervening years working on various projects (for the most part on the wonderful Virtually There Projectand numerous shorter-term children’s book projects) with Orla herself at the helm of the organization.


Here she is in this picture, in Galway – glad I captured her looking back to me. Orla was special – a creative force, an instigator, encourager and so deeply committed in everything she did.  She always had time to listen especially to the smallest voice. She was a great communicator and as an artist herself she understood and valued creative process and practice.


It’s easy to recall her warmth and energy, her positivity and directness. It’s hard to articulate adequately just how much she meant to me personally with the weight of her loss and other challenges.


She inspired me professionally, with her belief in the intrinsic value of creativity, imagination and trusting one’s instinct. She inspired me personally – the memories I have of working with her will always lift my spirits; her own creative outputs through a time of challenge and trauma truly moved me and I know that these works had impact and motivated others facing challenges.


Thank you Orla, you are loved and missed.



Contribution from Éanna Mac Cana


I want to say thank you to Orla for meeting me in late 2017. To hear about the thoughts and process behind her work, has made a lasting impression on me, informing and inspiring my own in numerous ways. I am grateful for her listening to me and being able to receive advice from her. I have fond memories of that talk over a cup of coffee.


Contribution from Ann Henderson




Contribution from Kiera O'Toole


In short, there are very few people I have met in my professional life that commanded such respect. And even though I didn’t know her well, I respected her a great deal.


Contribution from Andrew Livingstone


I think that one thing that has remained with me from the many meetings and conversations with Orla over many years is the question ‘Why?’ Orla would always ask, Why? – this question asked me to keep looking/researching/understanding/asking/probing/investigating/evaluating – even if I thought I had an answer to the question, ‘Why?’ still remains! This question is with me everyday in all that I do – and as a consequence Orla is never far from my thoughts.