Plus One Podcast

Video Episode 14 - Eina McHugh on playing fields, creativity and meaning

July 25, 2021


We discuss “the more than…” , being bombed multiple times growing up, getting a Fulbright Scholarship and getting a chance to think and dream and grow.  Working in big systems, but losing sight & connection with your own individual will.

Different phases of life – growing up in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, studying English & French in Dublin at Trinity College. 

The “media years” -  doing media training with TG4, working in media with the BBC, doing training, starting up the Northern Film Council – trying to help a dream come to life, and getting Ralph Fiennes to help – you only have to ask...  Moving to London to direct the Second World Summit on Television for Children, setting up a consultancy company then working with Welsh broadcaster S4C.

The Dublin years – becoming Director of The Ark, A Cultural Centre for Children, coming home to look after ill parents.

Coach & mentor. The book “Zen mind, beginner’s mind” – come to things with a really open mind.  We eat but don’t taste…

Eina’s book “To call myself beloved.” “It took me a huge amount of time, and every sort of energy and creative energy, and essentially, it's really about two themes. It's an experience of therapy, whether written from the client or the patient's perspective, you never get any other perspective. And it's also the second theme was about the troubles and the impact of the troubles that really has seen very little light of day.”

“I could not find a book that actually explained or described an experience of therapy that I could recognise everything was too posh, everything was too academic. Everything was always right. They didn't have the blood on the floor. It didn't have them. It didn't have the misunderstandings. And to me, that was essential.”



  • “… a much deeper sense of, I am creative, and I am alive, and I am alive in my creativity...”
  • “there's something about that fundamental experience of myself that I can actually be an agent of change. And actually, for many people, that ebbs away.”
  • Starting the Northern Film Council – “…trying to help a dream come to life.. a part of that is the courage to try and the courage to experiment because it doesn't exist.”
  • On Ralph Fiennes coming over to Belfast to deliver a workshop for children soon after winning his Oscar for The English Patient – “On the way back to the airport, I said to him, why did you say yes? And he said to me, well, you're the only person who's ever asked me. So you must have thought I could do it.”
  • “…if you call out something in people, if you believe in people and also sometimes, just shut up. Just try it.”
  • “I always worked on projects that did not exist, they had to be made exist. So this is where I became very interested in this kind of terrain of a dream. Yes, individual dreams, work dreams, organizational change. It doesn't yet exist. Can we make it exist?”
  • “I am very interested in self-sabotage. I am very interested in the frozen moments where seemingly we can do nothing.”
  • “…visual art, music, drama is that holistic way of looking at the world and experiencing the world. I really, I really love that… I don't like the narrow path.
  • “…this teacher told me how much he hated and felt bad about creativity. And he said, I know I'm blocking it for the children. And I thought that was incredibly brave and honest of him to say that… what he was saying was, I feel horrible about this. I don't feel happy and easy about it. And it was such a stunning moment. He really changed me.”
  • “…what I realized in that moment was, forget trying to impose on teachers, things that are all mechanistic about, have you ticked this box or that box, forget it - for a while even. Just try and come alongside people and give people opportunities should they wish to explore themselves and their creativity. And from that will come…?
  • As a coach – “a lot of time with mentees, we're trying to make the frame. How am I framing the situation?”
  • “…it's very important that the person knows, I'm going to back you. It doesn't matter to me, it can go pear-shaped, that does not matter. What am I learning? What am I practising? What am I experimenting? So that actually is a rich experience. And I can develop? We think that creativity, innovation and leadership is easy? No.”
  • “I can be across several terrains at the same time. Yes, that is me.”
  • “One of the fascinating things that we are discovering through online facilitation, you actually can have the same meaning.”
  • “…we underestimate the visual capacity … people are speaking in images all the time. And images are often a way in, and they can enliven and enrich connection between people.”
  • “Start the day with some connection to nature…if you can build in some space, for yourself, and that kind of capacity to self-nourish, self-reflect, take yourself seriously, take your creativity seriously. And the day will be as it will be…it sets the day differently.”
  • “I really encourage you to go run around all the pitches.”



Eina’s Plus One

  • Cultivating the capacity to visualise images is a powerful resource.

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  • Start the day with some connection to nature…

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