Transatlantic Connections Conference: exploring equality

An arts conference in Donegal, run by colleges from the US and Ireland, is open to all

Dr Niamh Hamill, director of the Donegal-based Institute of Study Abroad Ireland: “Everyone said it was crazy to try to run a conference in Donegal in winter”

Dr Niamh Hamill, director of the Donegal-based Institute of Study Abroad Ireland: “Everyone said it was crazy to try to run a conference in Donegal in winter”

 

There was great celebration in Donegal recently when National Geographic declared the county “coolest place on the planet”. However, the people from Drew University, New Jersey, US, will tell you that they already knew this – which is why they hold their Transatlantic Connections Conference in Bundoran each January.

The conference, which is free and open to all, has a multidisciplinary timetable of lectures, discussions, live music performances, art exhibitions and workshops sessions, on the theme of equality.

Special guest speakers include Judge Helen Shores Lee, from Birmingham Alabama; Brendan Fay, LGBT activist and founder of the ‘St Pat’s for all’ movement; Donál Donnelly, author of Prisoner 1082 and subject of documentary The Invisible Man; Prof Christine Kinealy, director of the Great Hunger Institute and Boston-based author of All Souls, Michael Patrick MacDonald.

The conference was the brainchild of Dr Bill Rogers, dean of the Drew University Graduate School, and Dr Niamh Hamill, director of the Donegal-based Institute of Study Abroad Ireland. “Everyone said it was crazy to try to run a conference in Donegal in winter,” says Hamill, “but we believed that both Americans and Irish people would enjoy engaging in conversation, debate, argument and exploration of topics of mutual interest, especially if we opened it up to locals, friends, visitors and enthusiasts, and had plenty of craic and ceol to go with the caint.’

Over 100 speakers

The conference is now in its fourth year, and several colleges from the USA and Ireland are participating, including Birmingham-Southern College, Alabama; Bristol Community College Massachusetts; Letterkenny Institute of Technology; the University of Ulster Derry; and Queen’s University, Belfast.

Over 100 speakers will address the conference, exploring the theme of equality in a range of fields, from history and literature to sport, politics, peace studies and popular culture. There is also a one-day symposium on humanities in medicine, to which all professionals working in Irish healthcare are welcome, and a full day’s panels focusing on the Irish language, in association with Foras Na Gaeilge.

The weekend also includes performances by The Henry Girls, The Mirenda Rosenberg Band, Roots combo Erdini, and Johnny Gallagher and Boxtie.

On Saturday 14th January at 3pm, there will be a live recording of the Irish Times Women’s Podcast, hosted by Kathy Sheridan. The theme of the podcast will be Borders and barriers in the lives of women.

This is an open conference: everyone is welcome and all talks and cultural events are free. See taccireland.com for information and to book tickets.

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