+ 353 (0) 1 442 9903 niamh@niamhshaw.ie

Niamh Shaw


Science. Technology. Arts. Engineering. Maths (STEAM)

Astronaut in Training

Performer | Theatre maker


Curious. Always

Diary of a Martian Beekeeper premieres at Space week 2017

As part of Space week, Niamh recently premiered her new theatre show ‘Diary of a Martian Beekeeper’ at the Rory Gallagher Theatre at Cork Institute of Technology. This show emerged from over 2 years of interviews with astronauts and many many people working at the Astronaut Centre in Cologne, who are all playing their part in getting humans into Space. The show is set in the future in 2036.  Niamh is on Mars and​ is a ​member​ of Crew 173, on a long duration mission to investigate new ways of growing food in this arid foreign land. As their 2-year mission comes to an end, one crucial experiment remains for Niamh. But will she overcome her personal struggles or put the whole crew and the mission in danger?

A highly visual exploration of future interplanetary human exploration, Shaw and her creative team create a new world order, reminding us of the power of the collective, the fragility of the solitary human and the united will behind all major breakthroughs. Because we may one day leave the cradle of Earth, but we will always be human.

Commenting Dr. Niamh Shaw said, “The play will be rooted in truth and science but will inspire and open the imaginations and hearts of audience”.

The show was inspired by Elon Musks grand design for a future interplanetary civilisation, testimonies from ESA (European Space Agency) employees and Niamh’s own personal and ever evolving space journey.

C​reated in collaboration with CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, ESERO Ireland,​  European Space Agency​ & ESA​  Astronaut Centre, with the support of CIT Arts Office. 

For anyone who’s ever stared in wonder at the night sky, who’s ever felt the weight of their own childhood expectations, who’s ever had dreams that felt too big for them….its an absolute must see.
★★★★★ Adelaide Fringe Festival 2016

What begins as a show about space slowly shifts to become something far more profound and personal about dashed hopes and disillusion – and the crucial importance of retaining a sense of wonder.
★★★★ David Kettle, The List Edinburgh 2015

We’ll soon be updating the site with more photos of the show as well as more pictures and videos of Niamh’s recent trip to Star City in Russia to undertake that Zero G parabolic flight.

For now, we thought we’d share her recent talk at Inspirefest earlier this year in Dublin:

About Niamh

Dr Niamh Shaw, Irish engineer, scientist and performer is passionate about awakening people’s curiosity and merging performance and theatre with communication, engineering, science, art, and technology. She is interested in pushing boundaries in telling the human story behind science, particularly through Space themes, creating science events for both family and arts audiences. Niamh provides specialised communication workshops in the private sector and academic/research institutes and is a keynote speaker on thought leadership and creative mindset in the workplace. She recently co-founded Connect2Communicate with UCD Researchand Tyndall Institute, a communications academy for researchers and academics using improvisation and theatre skills in partnership with the Alda Centre for Communications in New York.

Niamh is passionate about all things Space and plans to be a future space colonist, to contribute to human space exploration as artist and communicator. In this capacity as Astronaut-in-Training, she participated in a simulated Mars mission in January 2017. As the artist and journalist for Crew 173, she was part of a team of six international analogue astronauts at the Mars Desert Research Station in the Utah desert. She has just returned from the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, Moscow. During her time there, she experienced a Zero gravity flight (see movie below) and made some new work while aboard the flight, exploring weightlessness on Earth and the frailties of human in the extremes. She will soon be announcing the next phase of her space journey and further analogue missions to extreme terrains on Earth. She is Co-Chair of Humanities at the International Space University’s 2018 annual Space Studies Programme in The Netherlands, was Core Lectures Associate Chair in 2017, and is an 2015 alumnus of this same programme.

Niamh promotes STEM (science, technology, engineering & maths) careers and women in STEM in her public speaking activities and her contributions on national TV, radio, and press. She recently spoke at InspireFest about her dream to contribute to human space exploration as an artist and communicator. Other speaking events include TEDxUCD and & World Science Festival, Brisbane and Scintillating Science with Dara O’Briain during Science week 2016.

She hosts STEM-related events for corporate clients, the general public and families including ‘My Place in Space’Bright Club, Dream Big- an evening with Astronaut Al Worden and space tourist Cyril Bennis, Shakespeare Lives in Science: Can Shakespeare make you fall in Love? at Cheltenham Science Festival (2017, 2016) Northern Ireland Science Festival (2017), Science week (2015, 2016), Space week (2016), Festival of Curiosity (2014, 2015). She brings a number of Space-themed family events to Cork this summer as part of the Space Studies Programme Summer of Space programme.

As the artist in residence at CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork, her STEAM lecture/performance piece, To Space, toured internationally including Edinburgh Fringe (2015), Adelaide Fringe (2016), Edinburgh International Science Festival (2016), and Cheltenham Science Festival (2016) supported by Culture Ireland, ESA and the Arts Council of Ireland. Her next project ‘Diary of a Martian Beekeeper’funded under Science Foundation Ireland’s 2017 Discover programme, will premiere at Space week. Working with ESA’s Astronaut Centre, she combines interview and testimony in this multimedia performance about the massive group effort behind human space exploration. She has presented her work in STEAM at scientific conferences including the International Astronautical Congress (2017,2016), European Geosciences Assembly (2017, 2016, 2015), and European Planetary Sciences Congress (2015).

Her other work in science art & technology and public engagement includes Memory of Place (Festival of Curiosity, 2016, 2015), ’To Space’ (Edinburgh Science Festival 2016, Adelaide Fringe 2016, Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015), Dream Big (Int. Space University, 2015) ‘Speaking with Plants’ (UCD Science Expression, 2014), That’s About The Size Of It (Dublin City of Science 2012, Dublin Fringe Festival 2011), Boys of Foley Street (ANU productions, Dublin Theatre Festival 2012). Her work has been supported by the European Space Agency (2015), Science Foundation Ireland (2014), The Arts Council of Ireland (2014, 2011), Arts@CERN (2011), Show in A Bag (2011), Dublin City Council Drama Bursary (2011), and is an alumnus of MAKE (2011), The SPACE Programme (2011), The Festival of Curiosity Residency (2013), and The Robert Wilson Watermill International Spring Residency, New York (2010).

She is a member of function(core), a transdisciplinary and international collective composed of scientists, musicians, engineers, entrepreneurs, actors, architects, physicists, chemists, futurists, writers, and creative technologists, who form teams called cores around unsolvable problems. She co-founded STEAMakers a global initiative to provide quality public engagement events incorporating creative technologies. Recently voted one of Ireland’s leading science communicators, she is a Science Gallery Leonardo, the Dublin point of contact, on behalf of Blackrock Castle Observatory for Ireland’s national Space week and is the Space Ambassador to Northern Ireland for the ESA’s education and resource office (ESERO UK). She contributes to BBC’s monthly Sky at Night magazine and writes a multimedia column aimed at adults to encourage new ways to engage with STEM, for the online journal Headstuff

Niamh believes that we can be many things at the same time. She is curious, always and embraces failure every day.

Niamh performed My Place in Space at the UCD Festival Day 2016. The mixed audience of kids and adults loved her interactive performance and willingly joined in the fun. Niamh always brings such enthusiasm to communicating science. Alex Boyd

Public Engagement & Outreach, University College Dublin

STEAM Art |Theatre | Events

What begins as a show about space slowly shifts to become something far more profound and personal about dashed hopes and disillusion – and the crucial importance of retaining a sense of wonder. David Kettle

Theatre Critic, The List, Edinburgh Fringe

Shaw is a compelling storyteller, interweaving these explanations and demonstrations with dramatized autobiographical flashbacks…..For anyone who’s ever stared in wonder at the night sky, who’s ever felt the weight of their own childhood expectations, who’s ever had dreams that felt too big for them, To SPACE is an absolute must see. Justina Ashman

Theatre Critic, Adelaide Fringe 2016

her musings are fascinating and a lot more philosophical than one may expect in a tiny dark room at the top of a café in the middle of the Fringe….. it will stretch your intellect and your imagination.


Speaking | Presenting | Media

Crowds of excited space enthusiasts descended on the Limerick Institute of Technology’s Millennium Theatre on Wednesday evening, to hear from Apollo 15 Command Module Pilot Al Worden, and Limerick’s very own Space Tourist Cyril Bennis.

Moderated (and created ) by the brilliant Dr Niamh Shaw, the evening began when the two special guests were both asked what made them decide they wanted to dedicate their lives to space exploration. Unfortunately all good things must come to an end as the night had to come to a close.. with everyone already smiling from ear-to-ear after hearing such wonderful stories and adventures. Cian O'Regan

Blogger, Irish Space Blog

Astronaut In Training | Explorer

2017 activities:

Here are some images and videos from my recent simulated Mars mission at The Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station in the Utah desert in the USA. I was a member of Crew 173 along with Michaela Musilova (Crew Commander, Slovakia), Roy Naor (Crew Geologist, Israel), Idriss Sisaid (Crew Engineer, France) and Richard Blake (Greenhab Officer, Australia).

If you would like to know more about our mission, here are my daily journal entries which were published by Headstuff science editor:
Sol 0- Introduction to Life on Mars
Sol 1- my first EVA
Sol 2-Culture night on Mars
Sol 3-Trouble sleeping
Sol 4- Snow on Mars
Sol 5- Irish night on Mars
Sol 6- your money’s no good here
Sol 7- why we are all on Mars
Sol 8 & 9- getting in to the swing of Mars
Sol 10- when the French TV crew came
Sol 11-our time is almost up
Sol 12- someone’s eating all our data
Sol 13- when Crew 174 arrives
Sol 14 and beyond- Life after Mars

Further missions planned for 2018

Interview with Dave Fanning on Ryan Tubridy show RTE Radio 1

Previous Clients

Working with Niamh was an absolute delight. ‘My Place in Space’ is a high energy interactive show which kept both children and adults engaged throughout. Hana Ayoob

Programme Co-ordinator, Cheltenham Science Festival

Contact me

Get in touch

4 + 8 =