Robert Rock (his paper on Witchcraft to be more specific 🙂 ) and the opportunity to network.
Best memory of the conferences?
I made a joke about the amount of pigeons at one point during Prof. Sean Connolly’s Walking History Tour of Belfast (resembling a scene from ‘Home Alone’). Cara Hanley laughed; we got talking and found out we had the same supervisor. Friend made for life!
Worst memory of the conferences?
I’ve had no bad memories or experiences with IHSA conferences. That having been said, I did learn the hard way that it’s notan absolute requirement to bring your own wine, in a plastic water bottle and refill your glass under the table during the conference dinner…
What are you looking forward to most about Galway 2016?
Ceol agus Craic! I expect to be ‘Takin’ a whirl, ‘Round the Salthill Prom, with a Galway Guy!’ But seriously, I’m really looking forward to IHSA 2016 because I couldn’t attend last year and heard that I missed some awesome papers, like Aaron O Maonaigh’s on the Thompson Sub-machine Gun. I can’t wait to see my old buddies and make new ones, like every year. I’m also really looking forward to giving my first IHSA paper!
Anything else you’d like to add? The atmosphere of an IHSA conference in my experience has always been welcoming and friendly to speakers and listeners alike, I’d heartily recommend it to any student.
Do you remember that song from the 1965, ‘California Dreamin [on a Winter’s Day]’, by The Mama’s & The Papas? It was a great hit at the time and has shown true resilience over the intervening decades. As a matter of fact I had started to write this entry in a very different fashion and he lyric entered my head and I had to listen to it….and then the entire timbre of the article changed before my eyes! Anyway I digress, but seriously, please take a listen to some great 60’s counter-culture! California Dreamin. I have a link and although tentative, I think its relevant.
As a PhD student (final year, thank the gods!), take it from me; money does not fall from the sky like autumnal leaves. Even as the aforementioned song describes “All the leaves are brown/And the Sky is grey”, one must marvel at the metaphorical sight of all those fivers and tenners slowly spiralling down to form a blanket on the ground. Wouldn’t it be a great thing, if the simple things in life were, if not free, then at least valued and funded appropriately?
As a conference organiser seeking funding, I can tell you money does most definitely not fall in such a fashion! But yet again at CAO time we have a talking head pop up to tell us about this great knowledge economy we have here and how our third level institutions are so well funded, etc, etc. We as anyone in academia knows, they’re not. I heard from a colleague a few years back that a leading Irish Third Level department had to sell some of their PHOTOCOPIERS to make ends meet after a budgetary shortfall.
The Royal Irish Academy (hat tip for kudos), have come out with a sensible position/advice paper aimed toward central government and perhaps as a broader conversation starter also in the Irish Third Level sector regarding not just the perennially raw topic of funding, but also the more pressing topic of student funding. We all remember the terrible hardship caused in 2012/2013/2014 by the disastrous SUSI website for online grants “processing.” Part-time (and personally I have MASSIVE issues with that misleading and pejorative term) students are being persecuted by the Irish education system and successive administrations for not being good little drones and entering into courses in the desire full-time fashion with other Secondary School graduates.
Grants are being withheld from people who, lets face it here, are trying to better themselves. Professor Mary Daly succinctly presents the case of the
“…bank official working full-time on €25,000 a year is being charged fees to study in the evenings, while the child of the bank’s CEO is entitled to the free fees scheme to study during the day?”
Now in ‘post-crisis’ Ireland (another massive bone of contention btw), with everything rising but the dead, students are faced with increased accommodation costs, not only in Dublin, but also throughout the country as a whole. So people will just commute from home or a cheaper place to live? Also on the rise is petrol/diesel, parking, public transportation fares. Fees are also continually and incrementally rising, with increases being used to offset declining central government funding. Those claiming that grants are quite generous are living in cloud cuckoo land; wages rose during the Great War also, but inflation effectively destroyed those paltry increases! Free Education, isn’t, basically.
There’s a massive disconnect between what the government want (and not just this one wither, in case I’m accused of Fine Gael/Labour bashing…though Ruairí Quinn, the former ‘Hypocrite-in-Chief’, did their credibility few favours) and what they’re willing to invest in. Perhaps as the RIA suggests a new model of student support should be entered into? I’m not blind to the needs of universities or IT’s to investment and upgrading of facilities and infrastructure, but something has to give here; many have an aging (and expensive) building stock, which were expanded during the 1960’s and 70’s and need modernising. And its probably going to be parents and students who will have to give in. A model which is used at the national and international level might be worth considering; a bond issue. If colleges were to issue a long term bond, which would accrue with profits generated over a thirty year period, it might provide for some financial stability and guaranteed income. Some profits from these campus based start-ups and spin-offs we hear so much about, could be channelled into this area, etc.
As a conclusion, we as a Third Level community must acknowledge that the system is at present not effective. it is creaking along and certainly not operating at the peak efficiency, which is desired. Unfortunately, one must wait and see are there any in the sector, especially the national parliament, who posses the ability to engineer and herald such dramatic and much needed change.
Just to keep you all up to date on developments since we last spoke. We have set the date; the IHSA will take place on the weekend of the 19th – 21st February 2016. So SAVE THE DATE! The city based campus of the National University of Ireland, Galway will play host to most of the formal events on the Friday and Saturday (venue TBC). The University has a fine tradition of historical research and scholarship dating back to its foundation to the tumultous years of An Gorta Mór – The Great Famine. History was one of the first disciplines to be taught in the emerging University and 170 years on we are going from strength to strength, with over 800 students at Under and Postgraduate levels across a range of interests in the greater field.
We have booked ourselves into the Harbour Hotel in Galway city centre on the Saturday evening for the social/meal and keynote address (more info to follow on that one).
For our meal, convenience to the city was our guiding concern, so as to make the weekend as effortless as possible for you, our attendees. The Harbour Hotel is about a 3 minute walk from Shop Street, so anyone staying in the city will be very close indeed. Emer and her team in the hotel are doing their very best to look after our attendees at the social. Also for those looking to book accommodation for the event in the Harbour, please do make sure you mention the fact you’re attending the conference (and the meal associated with same) for the best value. The food is of superb quality (the menu is impressive) and if you have any dietary concerns, please do be sure to let us know and we will be sure that you will be accommodated.
We will also be compiling a list of all other accommodation available in Galway city shortly and will post that to our Facebook page once complete. We hope the list will cover all options available, from B&B to Hostel and Hotels. We’re also going to include details for transportation options and other helpful information, just to make it harder for you to stay away!
We have also set our minds toward the Call for Papers and the format of the weekend, so speakers please take this as your first notification and start those germs of ideas in your heads. Papers will more than likely (all to be confirmed in the CfP and all subject to change of course) follow the traditional format. In addition to that there are some innovations which both myself and the committee would like to bring into practice in next year’s conference. As we’re threshing away at those at the moment I won’t get into them; suffice to say we will be doing our level best to make it as fruitful, enjoyable, accessible and worthwhile for all to contribute to our conference.
We’re presently working hard on the other academic and social aspects of the conference, so rest assured it will be a very rewarding and special weekend in Galway! Please if you have any questions or queries or suggestions get in touch with us through our Twitter handle @ihsa2016, on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/events/1614894075423608/, or send us an email to email@example.com
The conference should prove to be a roaring success with the ideas we have coming on stream, the advances in technology and research that makes them possible and as always with the fantastic standard of research evident in the 3rd Level Institutions both in and outside the island of Ireland. Last year’s conference organisers in the University of Limerick did a fine job in showcasing some of the best papers to date and a hearty congratulations must go to them for their efforts in that regard!
This blog will serve as a medium not only for us to communicate with you regarding the Call for Papers and other official matters, but it is envisaged will also allow for a less formal, more collegial conversation to emerge. To that end I am delighted to announce that our Vice-Chair, Martin O’Donoghue, has agreed to write a blog on this page. Martin’s work will cover not only the planning and running of the conference behind the scenes, but will also touch on aspects of writing abstracts and papers, research difficulties, thoughts and opinions on events of historical significance as well as a wide variety of other related matters. I also hope to make contributions here and there and would hope too that our other committee members would contribute to the conversation; this year’s committee has both Undergraduates and Postgraduates as well as non-History students considering presenting a paper for the first time. I’m sure you’ll agree that this will provide us with a rich seam of insight.
That’s all I have for the moment folks. Please be sure to follow our progress on Twitter, Facebook and here. If you would like to subscribe to our email, then please just email firstname.lastname@example.org