#cong22 Attendee Briefing Note

Full Details of CongRegation 2022

The following is a breakdown and detail of the 10 different events over the three days of #cong22 so you can orientate yourself in advance.  This is a long read.

Overall Schedule.

Friday 25rd Ashford Castle (Booked Out – waiting list )

  • 19.00-22.00 A night of Purpose.
  • 20.00-23.00 Digital Embroidery session with Richard Millwood in Danaghers Hotel.  (earlier session for those not attending Ashford Castle)

Saturday 26th Unconference. Cong Village

  • 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
  • 15.30-16.00 : Huddle 4
  • 16:00-17.00 : Workshops
  • 17.00 : Photo at Cong Cross
  • 17.30 : Reception in Ryan’s
  • 18.00-19.30 : Dinner in Lydons/Ryans/Danaghers/Pat Cohan
  • 19.30 : Poetry Open Mic Danagers.  MC Anne Tannam
  • 20.00–21.00 : Pound your heart out.  Boomwhackers session with Deanna

Sunday 27th. Cruise on Lough Corrib.

  • 11.00 am Departure from Ashford Pier

Ashford Castle Evening

This year we are changing the format from presentations to a panel discussion on Purpose.  The panels Panellists are keynote speaker, coach and leadership thought leader Fiona English,  philosopher and existential psychoanalyst Dr Stephen Costello, award winning football manager, former politician and cancer survivor, John O’Mahony and Caroilin Callery of Stroketown House and the National Famine Museum.  Their unique takes on purpose will be explored by moderator Joan Mulvihill.

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 also on 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 in the billiards room with the panel discussion 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 is a 1 minute walk.

After Ashford Castle we will retire to Danaghers where Richard Millwood will introduce us to Digital Embroidery.  This session also being run for those not attending Ashford Castle.

Saturday Unconference Running Order

Registration takes place from 9.30-10.20 in Ryans Hotel with huddles beginning at each of the 8 venues at 10.30 sharp.  On arrival you will collect your lanyard from the hanging rack before signing in and getting your number.  This is a sticker that goes on your lanyard and tells you what venue you will be in and at what time according to the table.

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.  We may have a card/clock system in operation and you will be given notice of midway, 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/table 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.  The final huddle is being reduced to 30 minutes to allow for the three workshops. We finish at 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 Ryan’s/Danagher’s/Pat Cohan’s and Lydon’s.

16:00-17:00 Workshops

This year we will have four workshops on Saturday, during and after the unconference.  The first is Wayfinding by Barre Fitzpatrick at lunch time.

The next three take place at 4pm (we are cutting the last huddle to 30 mins).

  • Danagher’s Hotel: ‘Fake Purpose’ with Andy Green – Huddles move from Danaghers, Puddleducks and McHughes(Mike)
  • Lydon’s Hotel: ‘Inside the Donut’ with Roisin Markham.  Huddles move from Lydons and McHughes (Barry)
  • Ryans Hotel: The Robot Wrote my Report – AI Content creation by Stephen Howell.   Huddles move from Ryan’s The Irish History Book Store, Togher’s

19.30 Poetry Open Mic: Danaghers

Since the  inaugural session in 2018 the poetry open mic has survived the pandemic with Anne Tannam taking over the healm as MC. 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 Pound Your Heart Out – Boomwhackers

This year we are embracing the percussion power of the boomwhackers.  Recognising that concentration at 8pm can be limited Deanne from Drumadore will take us through the basics before attempting to get is up to play a tune together.   Boomwhackers are plastic tubes of different lengths that are individually tuned so banging it off a table will produce a result.  This session starts at 20.00 until 21.00.

Lough Corrib Cruise 11.00

In previous years we have explored local historical and archaeological sites, climbed mount gable, foraged in the forest and experienced mindfulness in the woods.  This year we are taking to the great lake of Lough Corrib.  This cruise is accompanied by the wonderfully informed narration by Patrick Luskin with stories of Ashford Castle to 3,000 year old dug out canoes.

The cruise will leave from Ashford Pier at 11am (parking behind Cullens).  It might also call into Lisloughrey Pier at 11.15am if you miss the Ashford departure.

Venues and Chairs

The chairs and the 8 venues for #cong22 are:

  1. Barry Kennedy | Mc Hughes | Two groups here. Lunch served.
  2. Richard Millwood | 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 Danaghers.
  5. Cormac Kennedy | Lydons | One group. Downstairs. Lunch served here.
  6. Alan Costello | The Irish History Bookstore | One group. Lunch in Ryans.
  7. Mike O’Rourke | McHughes | 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, the ICBE Advanced Productivity Skillnet, MKC Communications, Blacknight Solutions, Informed Decision, Grow Remote and Common Purpose .  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 just in case. The next nearest ATM is Clonbur Village about 5km away.


At the moment Lydons, Ryans, Pat Cohan and Danaghers will be serving dinner.  It is best to reserve in advances there are other events taking place in the village that day.  However  I am equally aware that many of you have yet to meet.  As the day progresses people self organise into dinners groups.  Please be open to welcoming any new comers into your groups.  This is a great chance to solidify friendships formed during the day.

Blog Submission

In preparation for #cong22 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. I have found my own perception of the Purpose theme being modified and evolving as I read other contributors.  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 roundabout 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).  Car pooling will help those taking public transport to finish the final leg to Cong.


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 and the cruise.


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.   However last minute places do become available.   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.

Centralised Registration

I have centralised registration booking with 7 separate tabs for the events where I need to know the numbers.  The really important ones are the unconference on Saturday 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), poetry open mic, the cruise and last minute accommodation. Please check out the different tabs and put in your names and numbers.  (Contact eoin at congregation dot ie if you dont have access to the registration sheet)

Remote Attendance

We have 5 remote attendees this year from the US, Canada and the Netherlands.  We really appreciate that you will be getting up extremely early to attend.   We will set up separate Zoom links for each attendee and dial you in from the following venues

  • Puddleducks
  • Ryans
  • The Irish History Book Store
  • McHughes
  • Danaghers

I will brief the chairs at these venues with the first huddle Zoom link opening at 10:30am Irish time.  The chair will try to move the laptop to the person presenting so that you will have the best opportunity to hear their contributions.  Bear in mind some venues might be a bit noisy.

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.

At this point we are on target for over 80-100 attendees, 8 chairs and some observers spread over 10 events on three days.  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.

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.

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

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

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