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Fabulous Beasts

Graphic designer Niall Sweeney’s multi-disciplinary, sociopolitical approach to his work has seen him become part of the fabric and evolution of Dublin’s queer scene, beginning with designing flyers and installations for the legendary Sides nightclub in the 1980s, and designing the very first issue of GCN, back in 1988. He’s most known for co-creating and designing Alternative Miss Ireland, which ran for 25 years and raised over a quarter of a million euro for Irish HIV and Aids organisations, and he’s also the man behind the visual identity of Pantibar, which celebrates its 10th birthday this year. However, few know how intricately Niall has been connected to the evolution of Queen of Ireland, Panti herself.

As Rory O’Neill self-effacingly says during this conversation piece, celebrating not only ten years of his fabulous gay bar, but reflecting on over three decades of being at the heart of Ireland’s LGBT+ scene: “I’m sometimes accused of having talent, but I think my real talent is working with really great people and letting them do their thing.” And Rory has fundamentally let the enormously talented Niall Sweeney do his thing, not only in creating the iconography of a drag icon persona that would become a national treasure, but in placing Panti front and centre in the story of Ireland’s queer cultural flowering.

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