#cong19 Attendee Briefing Note

Instructions and Schedule for CongRegation 2019 #cong19

With there weeks to go to CongRegation #cong18 (Nov 22nd – 24th) I wanted to give you one centralised run down and briefing to make the event as enjoyable as possible.  In total there are 8 events so this is a long read.  Please take time to read and check the centralised registration link.

Overall Schedule.

Friday 23rd Ashford Castle (Booked Out)

19.00-22.00 Community Talks.  Reception followed by 5 Presentations in the Private Cinema.

20.00-23.00 Maker Meet in Danaghers Hotel.  (earlier session for those not attending Ashford Castle)

Saturday 24th Unconference. Cong Village

9.30 : Registration Children’s workshops in the Crossroads Centre

9.30-10.20 : Registration in Ryan’s Hotel

10.20-10.30 : 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

18.00-19.30 : Dinner in Lydons/Ryans/Danaghers

19.30 : Poetry Open Mic Danagers.  MC Paul O’Mahony

20.00–21.00 :  Whistle Your Way to Music Glory – Tin Whistle Workshop.  Jenny Mulvey

21.00-22.00 : Hyphurm – New Ambient Music by Max Hastings

Sunday 25th. Mindfulness through Daftness, Cong Woods.

Assemble at the John Wayne Statue

11.00-13.00: Hangover cure breathing to mindfulness session in Cong Woods (weather permitting).  Led by Derval Dunford.

Ashford Castle Evening

Themed under a ‘Community Talks’ our speakers will share stories of community insights from the Quiet Man Movie, explore the concept of belong, explain what bonds communities together, share the insights of how a community project went from zero to 5 countries with no budget in under a year and finally how to really hear and know what your community thinks. 

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.

The provisional running order is:

• Professor Pat Dolan, NUIG on ‘The Quiet Man …. and the not so Quiet Man’

•          Leadership and Development Coach, Nadine McCarthy on ‘ Weaving the thread of Community – From I to We (…whilst still including me)’

•          Author Kevin McDermott on ‘Belonging’

•          Semantics Expert Alastair Herbert, LinguaBrand on ‘Why Listening Beats Talking’

•          Community Builder, Tracy Keogh, BOI/Grow Remote on Building a Community from Scratch

(Note this event is now full but you can leave your name on the waiting list – see below.  No food will be served at this event so please ensure you have eaten before you get to Ashford Castle)

After Ashford Castle we will retire to Danaghers where Pamela O’Brien, Chris Reina and Hassan Dabbagh will run a special ‘Maker Meet’.  Expect engineering and electronics challenges.  There will be two sessions – one at 8.00pm for those not attending Ashford Castle and after 10pm.

Saturday Unconference Running Order

Registration takes place from 9.30-10.15 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.  Those who have experienced CongRegation previously might volunteer for early presentations to get things moving.  The chair has a difficult task to keep things running smoothly so I would ask you to follow their guidance especially on timing, keeping on topic and including everyone in the narrative.  Expect robust exchanges but please be respectful and probe with questions rather than direct conflict.  Be willing to agree to disagree. 

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 in Ryans/Danaghers and Lydons.  We are also exploring the option of a special banquet. 

Free Headshots

As part of your ticket you can get a free headshot taken by professional photographer Gerry, Dreamline Photo Studio.  Gerry will set up a mobile studio in Ryan’s Hotel and send them to you following the event.  Make sure you brush your hair. 

Thypia – Creative Muse

Over the course of the CongRegation you can simply enter a problem at www.thypia.com and a creative muse will deliver an anonymous personalized response to your problem.  All we can promise is you will get a creative response.  Our muse is already working on problems so you don’t have to wait until #cong19.  Try it out today

19.30 Poetry Open Mic

At the inaugural poetry open mic in 2018 I was stunned by the calibre of original poetry and the willingness of people to grasp the opportunity to recite their favourite poems.  A cliché I know but you could hear a pin drop.  Thankfully Paul O’Mahony has agreed to MC once again.  Put your name down on the sheet if you intend to take to the stage but you can also decide on the night.  These are rapid fire sessions.  

20.00 Whistle Your Way to Music Glory – Tin Whistle Workshop

This year we are embracing the humble Tin Whistle.  We will have 30-50 Tin Whistle at this fun 1 hour workshop starting with the basics and finishing with a jamming session under the expert guidance of Jenny Mulvey.  If you have a tin whistle (or your children’s) bring it along or you can buy one for €7 each.  This session starts at 20.00 until 21.00.  This is a great chance to meet some new people, create a piece of music and collaborate.  We might not get beyond ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ but should be fun.

21.00 Hyphurm – New Ambient Music by Max Hastings 

Following the music session you will have a chance to sit back and listen as Max Hastings, who has attended many CongRegations, will demo his new ambient music material under the Aklivitus label.  You can sample some it on his Soundcloud.

Sunday Mindfulness through Daftness 11.00

We are lucky with the vast skills of CongRegation attendees and Derval Dunford will lead a fun but practical mindfulness session in Cong Woods.  For those who over indulged the ‘Hangover Cure Breathing’ could be particularly attractive.  Sturdy boots, hat, gloves and full waterproofs just in case of bad weather are a must.  Meeting point is the John Wayne status at 11am.

Venues and Chairs

The chairs and the 8 venues for #cong19 are:

1.         Robbie Canavan | Byrne and Fallon | Two groups here. Lunch served.

2.         Mags Amond | Danaghers | One group in the café to the right. Lunch served.

3.         Ruairi Kavanagh | Puddleducks | One group. Table at the window. Lunch served.

4.         Don Delaney | Elizabeth Togher’s | One group. Round table. Lunch in Byrne & Butler.

5.         Barry Kennedy | Lydons | One group. Downstairs. Lunch served here.

6.         Averil Staunton | Rare and Recent | One group. Lunch in Ryans.

7.         Mike O’Rourke | Byrne and Fallon | Two groups. Lunch Served.

8.         Tony O’Kelly | Ryans | One Group | Upstairs area over the bar. Lunch served.


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 – Mayo.ie, 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 now one ATM in Cong located in Danaghers Hotel but best to bring some cash with you.  The next nearest ATM is Clonbur Village about 5km away.


We are exploring the option of a special CongRegation Banquet in Butler & Byrne (minimum of 25 people) but dinner is also available in Ryans, Danaghers and Lydons on Saturday night from 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 ‘Maker Meet’ and Drama/Clay Modelling 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 #cong19 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 synopsis will help you speed read and focus on the ones that interest you. Community was a challenging topic for this year and impossible for one submission to cover it all but I have been fascinated by the range of perspectives and angle that you have all taken.  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 at the roundbout or behind O’Connor’s Spar Shop/Garage (closes at 7pm) and behind Ryans Hotel (be care of the tight turn – we have had a few bumps in the past).  Please do not park 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.  Daily we have in excess of 40 large articulated trucks passing through the village.

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.  There are a number of people looking for lifts from Galway.  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), Galway (45 mins) and Castlebar (40 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

I have centralised registration booking for the 8 different events on this sheet to give us rough numbers.  This covers all the different events but the really important ones are Ashford Castle (we cannot squeeze any more than the lucky 32 in so check if your name is on the sheet before going to the castle), the Children’s workshops, the Tin Whistle session (all can attend but we have only bought so many Tin Whistles) and the Sunday Mindfulness. Please check out the different tabs and put in your names and numbers.

Health & Safety

Dr Michael Regan is the nearest doctor located near the entrance to Cong Village in the Lynn Medical Centre  (094) 9546006.  The is one modern pharmacy in Cong Village run by Cormac on (094) 954 6119.  The defibrillator is located outside O’Connors Spar Shop.  Please report any medical incidents to Eoin on 086 8339540. 

Problem Solving Muse.

Once again this year we recruited our CongRegation problem solving creative Muse called Thypia https://www.thypia.com

We challenge you to input 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 80-100 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.

Respectful Debate

The range of perspectives in the submissions this year will be a catalyst for lots of debates and sharing of 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.  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 Mayo.ie, 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.


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