Meet the team

John Paul Payne – Chairperson

John Paul has a long history of LGBT+ advocacy in Ireland and abroad. He has been acting chairperson for the festival since it’s inception in 2019. When he worked as a reporter and co-host for a national television show in North America covering all current affairs LGBT+ stories. There he realised that LGBT+ people from Carlow, and rural Ireland, sometimes didn’t have a voice.

He flew home in 2015 with a camera crew to document his journey to vote in the Marriage Equality referendum as a two part report.  The first part was for “Be My Yes” campaign in North America for ex-pats who couldn’t fly home to vote. He is also the editor of the local LGBT+ magazine The Out Mag.

John Paul works as a makeup artist and has his own studio in Killeshin, Co. Carlow. He launched his own cosmetics line in 2019.

He won the Volunteer Ireland Award for Arts, Culture & Media in 2019.

Sally McDonald – Community Outreach Officer

Born in 1944 and qualified as a PE teacher in 1965. Married Larry Mc Donald, in 1966 and had six children. She now has fifteen wonderful grandchildren!  Sally was a member of Carlow Little Theatre Society and acted in many plays with them.  She was involved in a lot of community work, on a voluntary basis throughout the years. Sally was also a member of CMAC (now Accord) and organised Easter Fun Week, for primary school children, for many years, helped by wonderful volunteers.

Sally was a well known teacher for in the Traveller Training Centre on Cox’s Lane for ten years. She was also on both St Leo’s College and the Presentation College’s Parents Associations and both schools Board of Management.

Sally was also on the Board of Management of St Catherine’s Community Services Centre and draws a lot of her experience from working in these roles. She did substitute teaching in various schools which led her to be involved in many successful Carlow Community Games for many years.

Sally is part of our community outreach team, and got involved with the Carlow LGBT group and the Carlow Pride Festival Committee, in 2018. Sally brings her incredible work ethic and her ability to find new ways to create resources to help many people.

Ryan Shannon – Inclusion Officer (He/Him)

Ryan was born are raised in Carlow town. He joined Carlow Pride because he wanted to be part of the change in Carlow, to help make it a more welcoming place for members of the LGBT+ community. Ryan himself identifies as bisexual. His mission is to break down the stigma and barriers that bisexual people face. 

When he is not working with Carlow Pride, Ryan enjoys participating in local theatre groups and playing music. He has recently finished a degree in Applied Social Studies from Carlow College St Patricks and he is looking forward to what the future holds.

Ryan represents Carlow Pride Festival on the committee of the Ireland Pride Network, which is a network of pride organisers from around Ireland currently facilitated by the European Pride Organisers Association.