Singer Mary Coughlan guest speaker at UNESCO conference

Mary Coughlan. Credit: Hugh O’Conor.
Jun 10 2024 Posted: 12:10 IST

University of Galway has announced that renowned Irish singer Mary Coughlan will be the special guest at the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre conference.

The 11th biennial international conference entitled ‘Promoting Equality Through Family Support’ takes place on campus on Thursday and Friday, June 13th and 14th, to examine how social exclusion, discrimination, poverty, migration, displacement and the accompanying trauma can impact parenting and family life. The critical role family support can play in contributing to the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by confronting inequality and exclusion will also be discussed.

Mary Coughlan will offer her own perspective on the conference themes, interweaving three songs into her special guest speaker slot.

The UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre was established at University of Galway in 2007 by Professor Pat Dolan and Professor John Canavan, and the following year the UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement was awarded.

Professor Dolan will be honoured this week with the formal presentation of the Medal of the Maria Grzegorzewska University in Warsaw for life-long achievements in the field of children’s rights.

Professor John Canavan, Director of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at University of Galway, said: “The award of the Maria Grzegorzewska University medal to Professor Dolan brings great honour to University of Galway and the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre and reflects his immense contribution to the improving the lives of children in Ireland and globally. The timing of the award is perfect as 200 delegates gather on campus at the Institute for Lifecourse and Society to reflect how to challenge inequality and discrimination in their day-to-day practice. It is a great privilege to have the renowned singer Mary Coughlan with us to reflect on those themes.”

Mary Coughlan said: “I am going to explore in words, and some songs, the way I felt when I was younger, and my experience around trauma and the way I was treated, and contrast that with children and teenagers experiences in 2024.”

Born in Shantalla in Galway City, Mary Coughlan has made some of the most uncompromising, wholly personal, and universal music by any Irish artist. In May of this year, she released new music ‘More like Brigid’, a homage to Brigid of Kildare who was a pagan and a healer before she was canonized by the Catholic Church.


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