Connecting Business – Growing Opportunities

Head of Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society Receives Causeway Honour

Shona McCarthy, CEO of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society was recently honoured with a Special Contribution Award at Causeway: Ireland Scotland Business Exchange’s Annual Business Awards Celebration.


Shona McCarthy, CEO of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society has been honoured by receiving the Causeway Special Contribution Award at the Causeway: Ireland Scotland Business Exchange’s Annual Business Awards, that were held recently at a prestigious black-tie celebration in Edinburgh on 7 October 2021.


Sponsored by Cooper Software, this year’s Causeway Business Awards Celebrations were attended by approximately 250 business leaders, from a variety of sectors, from across Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The annual Causeway Awards are a high-profile annual event that showcase and celebrate business successes, trading triumphs and cultural connections on both sides of the Irish Sea, with keynote guest speeches on the evening given by Scottish Government’s Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, Ivan McKee; Irish Government’s Consul General of Ireland in Scotland, Jane McCulloch; and the Depute Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Councillor Joan Griffiths MBE.


The Causeway Special Contribution Award is a closed award, with the recipient chosen exclusively by the Board members of not-for-profit membership organisation, Causeway: Ireland Scotland Business Exchange, to give recognition to an inspirational leader who has elevated their organisations to new levels of success and who has made a significant contribution to the Causeway mission – advancing connections between the island of Ireland and Scotland. 


Originally from Co Down, Northern Ireland, Shona McCarthy joined the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society as Chief Executive in March 2016 and has championed Edinburgh’s Fringe as the world’s leading open access, performing arts festival, founded on the principle of freedom of expression. Prior to her current esteemed role in Scotland, Ms McCarthy was Chief Executive of Derry’s Culture Company from 2011-2014, leading on Derry - Londonderry’s transformational year as UK City of Culture, and she has also previously held the role of Director of the British Council Northern Ireland.


The Causeway Special Contribution Award was presented to Ms McCarthy on the night by Causeway Vice Chair and MD of Represent Judith O’Leary. Explaining more on why Shona was chosen to receive this prestigious accolade by Causeway, Ms O’Leary said:


“This award is all about recognising an individual who has gone the extra mile, inspired others and made a difference to their organisation or to the market, while also being ambassador in strengthening and promoting links between the island of Ireland and Scotland.


“Shona has over 28 years’ experience in senior leadership positions on both sides of the Irish Sea, as well as having achieved international acclaim, when she was awarded a prestigious Eisenhower Fellowship for Innovation in 2014 and a NESTA cultural leadership award which took her to live and work in India, at the Seagull Foundation for the Arts in Calcutta in 2007.


“With her personal and professional career roots in Northern Ireland, and with her senior position with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society putting her and Scotland firmly on the international stage, she has played a key role in enhancing the cultural ties between Scotland and Northern Ireland, while being recognised as an exemplary and inspiring business leader.  


Shona’s leadership style and her approach in business is fresh and inspiring. Earlier this year, Shona was keynote guest speaker at an International Women’s Day held by Causeway on empowering future generations of women leaders, where she gave an incredibly uplifting and moving talk about her personal career journey and approach to her leadership positions, with key themes on supporting and enabling women to progress in their careers, to the importance of staying motivated and loving what you do.


“We commend Shona on the success she has had in her career and the cultural and business contributions she has made on both sides of the Irish Sea. It was a pleasure to present her with the Causeway Special Contribution Award 2021.”


Commenting on receiving the award, Ms McCarthy said:


“It was a surprise and a privilege to receive this special Causeway Award. It is particularly special because I have been so welcomed by Scotland and have loved my first five years at the Edinburgh Fringe, whilst always holding my homeplace close to heart. I am enormously proud to play a small part in growing the deep cultural, human, linguistic, artistic, and legendary connections that weave through every aspect of Scotland and Ireland - north and south. Thank you Causeway, loving your work.”

Interested in becoming part of our growing Causeway network of Irish-Scottish business professionals? Join us today! 


Author: Aoife O'Sullivan

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About The Author

Aoife O'Sullivan

Aoife O'Sullivan is Causeway's Communications and Events Manager. She is responsible for nurturing the membership engagement activity for Causeway, primarily through hosting events both online and offline in Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland, and helps to connect Causeway's members and raise their profile through communications, marketing and PR.


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