Wider Horizons Alumnus Profile: Shay O’Donnell


“The Gathering” is spreading the word to urge Irish emigrants and their descendants to return to Ireland through a large advertising campaign. The IIIC is delighted to have known one of the contributors to this great effort: Shay O’Donnell, a graduate of the Tyrone Donegal Partnership’s Wider Horizons program, facilitated by the Irish International Immigrant Center.

O’Donnell graduated just last year from the program and is already making waves back home in Donegal. The Boston Wider Horizons program, made possible by the International Fund for Ireland, works to empower and educate unemployed young adults, not only through work placements, but also through cultural experiences. The IIIC hosts several groups every year; working to bridge the communication gap between nationalist and unionist communities while simultaneously attacking the high levels of youth unemployment present in both populations.

While here in America, Shay interned at Revere TV, a community media and government channel serving the city of Revere. Shay spent his time filming and editing projects, gaining experience assisting in interviewing figures such as Mayor Dan Rizzo, presenting events at landmarks like Suffolk Downs racetrack, and reporting on other local issues and happenings. “I learned more in 8 weeks on Wider Horizons than I did in four years of college,” says O’Donnell, who now works for Donegal TV, where he was hired after returning from America.

O’Donnell was one of 40 applicants for the position with DTV and was nervous about even putting his name forward. In the end, “America got me the job; all we talked about was Revere TV.” Shay now helps film and edit projects for online and cable TV, such as promotional material for “The Gathering.” As a part of these productions, Shay even got to interview Irish and Celtic football legend, Packie Bonner.

Despite his newfound success at home, Shay still misses Boston and would like to return someday soon. One of his most memorable experiences here was a trip organized by the IIIC to Perkins School for the Blind. “It was amazing [experiencing] how people adapt, and inspiring as well.” His time in Boston with the IIIC and TDP Wider Horizons was a highlight in his personal and career development. He says, “you don’t realize you were there [in the States] until you come home.”

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