Attendee Briefing Note for #cong18

With just under two weeks to go to CongRegation #cong18 (Nov 23rdto 25th) I wanted to give you one centralised run down and briefing to make the event as enjoyable as possible.  In total there are 7 events so this is a long read.  Please take time to read and check the centralised registration link.

Overall Schedule.

Friday 23rdAshford Castle (Booked Out)

19.00-22.00 Night of Ideas Stories.  Reception followed by 5 Presentations in Private Cinema.

22.30-23.00 Semicon(g)ductor Physics Danaghers Hotel.

Saturday 24th Unconference. Cong Village

9.30 : Registration Children’s workshops in the Crossroads Centre

9.30-10.00 : Registration in Ryan’s Hotel

10.00-10.30 : Opening address and move to venues.

10.30-11.30 : Huddle 1

12.00-13:00 : Huddle 2

13.00-14.00 : Lunch

14.00-15.00 : Huddle 3

15.30-16.30 : Huddle 4

16.30 : Photo at Cong Cross

17.00 : Reception in Ryan’s

18.00-20.00 : Dinner in Pat Cohan/Ryans/Danaghers

19.30 : Poetry Reading Danagers

20.00–late :  Ukulele – Zero to Hero Workshop in Danagher’s

Sunday 25th. Foraging Walk, Cong Woods.  Assemble at the John Wayne Statue

11.00-13.00: Guided Foraging walk in Cong Woods (weather permitting)

Ashford Castle Evening

Themed under a ‘Night of Ideas Stories’ our speakers will share stories of growing ideas from small acorns into big movements, how the media processes ideas, perception and ideas and ideas from the inside.  This event is fully booked out with a waiting list on the registration sheet.  The venue can only hold 32 people so please check the sheet to see if your name is included. The full line up is the website.  Also, please note although we may have a reception beforehand, please grab something to eat before you get there as we won’t be serving food.

There is a reception in the castle from 7pm with presentations kicking off at 8pm sharp.  Parking is in the car park located behind ‘Cullens At The Cottage’ (on the right before the bridge entrance) as the hotel is fully booked. There will be a shuttle service from the car park to the castle for attendees who would prefer not to walk but it a 1 minute walk.

After Ashford Castle we will retire to Danaghers where Mags Amond and Richard Millwood will guide us through conducting – electricity that is.

Saturday Unconference Running Order

Registration takes place from 9.30-10.00 in Ryans Hotel with huddles beginning at each of the 8 venues at 10.30 sharp.  On arrival you will be given a number along with lanyard.  Your number and the spread sheet tells you what venue you will be in and at what time.  Each venue has a chairperson who guides proceedings and will be completely briefed. The chairperson will ask 3 people to volunteer to speak at each huddle.  You have 10 minutes to discuss your topic, followed by a 5 minute Q&A. You choose how, where and when you wish to present.  This year we have a card/clock system in operation and you will be given notice of 2 minutes left (green) and 30 seconds to wrap up (red).  Each huddle will kick start with a short introduction of who you are and what you do but please limit this to a few short sentences (plenty of time at the breaks to share more about you).  The ice breaker is a ‘life hack’.  This is tip for helping with personal or business life and could range from a handy online tool you use to philosophical perspective.  This is designed to get everyone contributing from the start and is really helpful to all.  The earlier huddles will start with 3 speakers and the later ones may have two but this all depends on the final number on the day.

The spreadsheet on your lanyard is designed to try to ensure you meet new people at each session.  Each session lasts one hour and you have 30 minutes to move to the next venue and chat with the other attendees.  There are 4 sessions through out the day – two in the morning and two in the afternoon.  We finish at 4.30/5pm with a group photo at the Cross in Cong Village.

We will all congregate in Ryan’s Hotel for a post unconference reception.  Dinner will be centralised in Pat Cohan’s with the over flow in Ryans/Danaghers and Lydons.

Ukulele – Zero to Hero

This year we are pushing the boundaries further with a unique chance to learn to play the Ukulele.  We will have 30 Ukuleles at this fun workshop starting with the basics and finishing with a jamming session under the expert guidance of Sean McGrath.  Many people are bringing their own instruments and we will have 20 for purchase @ €60 each with another 10 on loan.  This session starts at 20.00.  This is a great chance to meet some new people, create a piece of music and collaborate.

Sunday Foraging Tour

To blow off the cobwebs on Sunday morning there is a foraging walk through the beautiful Cong woods.  Sturdy footwear and rainwear is advised.  The gathering point is at the John Wayne Statue.  Starting at 11 this gentle walk will take around 90 minutes.


All venues have wifi but be warned it can be temperamental at best, so treat as a nice to have rather than guaranteed.   Similarly on phone coverage, some sides of the village are better than others.


You will have free tea/coffee in all venues and lunch on Saturday is all covered by the generous support of the sponsors –, Advanced Productivity Skillnet, MKC Communications and Blacknight.  Outside of the four venues (Togher Photo Studio, Rare and Recent book store) lunch will be in the last pre lunch venue.


There is NO ATM in Cong but Ryans Hotel and O’Connor Spar shop do cash back but best to bring some cash with you.  The nearest ATM is Clonbur Village about 5km away.


Pat Cohan’s will act the main conference dinner location with over flows spread between Ryans, Danaghers and Lydons for dinner on Saturday night at 18.00.  This really is a great opportunity to connect with each other and explore some of the areas discussed.  There is a nice range of choices available and individual billing is available.

Children’s Workshops

We are expecting over 30 children for the ‘Smart Fabric’ and Percussion Drumming workshops in the Crossroad Community Centre on the way into Cong Village.  You can check your children in from 9.30 and please collect them after the group photo before 17.00.  You will be asked to sign your children in and out.  Please let us know of any allergies in advance.  We would like to take some photos/video of the workshop in practice.  Let me know if this presents any difficulty.

If you intend to avail of this I do need to know in advance.  Food, drinks and movie at lunch time are all organised with a garda vetted minder overseeing the day so the children will be in good hands and have a blast.

Blog Submission

In preparation for #cong18 I really encourage you to read the other submissions and start the process of connecting with each other by either posting them on social media or commenting on the website.  The range of perspective on Ideas is incredible and reading them in advance prepares you to discuss and find people you wish to meet.  Personally, I have really enjoyed reading them.  For any still to submit please send them to me as soon as you can or let me know how you are getting on.  We are flexible on timing but really need to know that you will be there on the day.


Please use the large car park at the entrance to the village or behind O’Connor’s Spar Shop/Garage (closes at 7pm) and behind Ryans Hotel.  Please do notpark in front of Ryan’s Butchers and narrow points of the road (especially the front of Ryan’s Hotel) as large trucks have difficulty passing.

Getting to Cong

Most people are driving to Cong and the list of those willing to car pool is on the registration sheet.  If you are happy to take someone with you (great chance to get to know people) please let me know and similarly if looking for a lift please consult and connect with people.  You should allow for at least three hours for the car trip from Dublin.  If you are travelling by car for Friday evening in Ashford Castle my strong recommendation is to avoid Galway City and to detour off the Motorway for Claregalway, Corrundula and then back on to the headford road to Cong Village.  This involves 20 mins of national roads but will save you a lot of time getting through Galway traffic chaos.  On Saturday morning this will not be a problem.

Buses to Galway are available every half hour from Citylink, GoBus and Bus Eireann. The nearest train station is Claremorris (30 mins) and Galway (45 mins)


Let’s assume it will be wet and cold so please bring warm clothing and wet gear especially if planning on walks in the woods.


As it’s a tourist venue Cong has a good supply of hotels and B&Bs but most of the immediate rooms are booked out.  If you have yet to book please check out the listings on the site but a quick search will produce more options a short trip away in Clonbur Village.  It is best to phone the hotels as they have block booked rooms for us. Taxi services are available to get back to your accommodation if outside the village.  There are also some nice options on AirBnB.  There are still places available in Ryans and Danaghers but these will vanish pretty fast.

Centralised Registration.

This year I am centralising registration on this sheet to give us rough numbers for each of the 7 events.  This covers all the different events but the really important ones are Ashford Castle (we cannot squeeze any more than the lucky 32 in), the Children’s workshops and the Ukulele session (all can attend but we have only bought so many Ukuleles). Please check out the different tabs and put your names and numbers.

Problem Solving Muse.

In addition, this year we are offering the services of a #cong18 problem solving Muse called Thypia where you can drop in whatever problem you are facing and our creative solution provider will deliver a personalised response to you by email.  We cannot promise it will be the perfect answer but we do guarantee that a creative muse will review, analyse and give an anonymous response.  You can start adding your problems now through this link but we will also have cards on the day that you can fill out.

At this point we are on target for over 80+ attendees, 8 chairs, 30 children and some observers.  Your attendance is really important to the smooth running of the event and if by any chance you cannot make it please let me as soon as possible as we will need to find replacements.  It is also not too late for new people to attend so if you know of anyone please share this email, direct them to me or the website.

In the event of something unforeseen happening could you please add your mobile number to the registration sheet or send to me.

Finally, you are the heart of Congregation and I applaud your wonderful insights.  Expect divergent views and opinions.  I just ask you to be respectful but don’t shy from challenge and the richness of discussion this offers.  This year I am also extending a challenge to the more confident to encourage the quieter voices through inclusive contributions.  Please also take the guidance of the chairs who have a difficult task and only wish to have all voices heard.

This event would not be possible without the generous support of, Advanced Productivity Skillnet, MKC Communications and Blacknight and I would like to show my sincerely appreciation for their leap of faith in enabling this event to take place.

I am really looking forward to seeing you in Cong and I really appreciate the great effort you are making in a taking the trip and producing some inspiring submissions.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *