An Taoiseach Announces National Conference as part of Ireland 2016

Dec 10 2015 Posted: 12:44 GMT

Ireland 1916-2016: The Promise and Challenge of National Sovereignty

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D. and Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys T.D., today (10 December) announce a major National Conference as a key part of Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme.

NUI Galway will host the major national academic conference of the 1916-2016 commemoration next year, on the theme, Ireland 1916-2016: The Promise and Challenge of National Sovereignty. This conference will run 10-12 November 2016 and will include academic contributions from a broad range of Ireland's universities and institutes of technology, as well as from a number of leading international figures. The Department of Education and Skills is also delighted to support this conference and has reserved some funding within its Ireland 2016 commemorative programme for the project.

This major international conference will facilitate an intensive exploration of two dominant and connected themes:
- The vision and aspiration invested in an independent Irish state by idealists and thinkers of the revolutionary generation
- The challenges facing the Irish sovereign state in 2016 – and the visions and horizons of ambition that should inspire the Irish people as they face the future

Speaking at the announcement, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D. said: “This is an opportunity to acknowledge the role of third level institutions in Irish life and the contribution they make to helping us examine our history, reflect on our achievements and look to our shared future. The conference is a national initiative and an invitation to all our third level institutions to participate, engage and contribute our best thinking at this unique moment in Ireland’s history.”

Minister Heather Humphreys said: ”Next year, all of our third level institutions will be a hive of activity; hosting debates and discussions on the Rising, the last 100 years, and the future. This flagship National Conference, to be hosted in NUIG, will examine the ideals of the 1916 Leaders and the challenges facing the 2016 generation. Our third level sector will help us to understand our history better as we commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising, and to consider what Irishness means to us as a nation a century later.”

The conference will convene 10-12 November 2016 and will be addressed by several leading international speakers. Among those who have already confirmed they will participate in the conference are: Louise Richardson, Vice Chancellor of Oxford, Roy Foster, historian, and academics Professors Kevin O'Rourke, Mary Daly, Philip Pettit, Brendan O'Leary, and Dr Maurice Manning. The conference will also be addressed by Conference Patron Michael D. Higgins, Uachtarán na hÉireann.

Major plenary sessions are planned on The Promise of 1916; Culture and Identity in a Globalized World; Economy, Society and the Well-Being of Citizens; and The Challenges, Promise and Responsibility of Education in the 21st century. The conference will conclude with a session on Political Futures and New Paradigms.

Conference Chair and Chancellor, National University of Ireland, Dr Maurice Manning, said:
“Ireland’s Decade of Centenaries has provided a wonderful opportunity for our nation to take stock and to examine 100 years of Irish independence. As the 100th anniversary year draws to a close in November 2016, this national academic conference will enable a wide ranging reflection on how Ireland – a small country can position itself globally for the next period of its development. We believe this is a great opportunity for Irish academics and global commentators to reflect on Irish identity and independence and to look forward at Ireland in a globalised future.”

There will be a programme of public events associated with the conference which will be open to the public. A detailed programme will be available in early 2016 and updated on

Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway welcomed the announcement: “NUI Galway is very pleased to host this national academic conference on our campus next year. We look forward to welcoming colleagues from all Irish higher education institutions to our campus for an important discussion on Ireland 1916-2016: The Promise and Challenge of National Sovereignty. We also embrace the public dimension of this event and will ensure wide participation in a public programme of talks, exhibitions and events on the campus and across the city.”


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