The Past Meets the Future at #cong16

“The Past Meets the Future” Ashford Castle Gathering at 7pm in the Billiards Room in Ashford Castle for a Prosecco reception hosted by the Castle, the group of 32 were treated to a flash tour of DNA, Scratch, Mindcraft and Archaeology Storytelling.

Photo 10 Mike mulligan

Mike Mulligan from kicked things off with a narration on the fundamentals of DNA structure before mapping the evolution of man and migration through the globe and finally mapping DNA data onto insights from the early Annals, linking family names and location. The layering of DNA data, although still early days has the capability to plug gaps in recorded histories and also to help answer population enigmas.


Archaeologist John Tierney spoke about using geolocation data to help piece together the truth and also shared a project where he has used data to plot the connection of Walt Disney’s ancestors to Dublin.

Photo 12 Stephen Howell

Stephen Howell, SMARTlab UCD demonstrated how the computer programme Scratch can help students create their own experience of what they learn in school. One programme he wrote and demonstrated showed how you could use Microsoft Kinect to move, control and interact with a simple history character on a computer screen. He suggested that the real value of learning code was akin to learning to read and write. Not everyone will be an award winning writer but the basic literacy skills enables us to communicate at a deeper level. Similarly with coding, the aim should be to enhance learning rather than turn the country in to a nation of programmers.


The final speaker Gar McCriosta from Mindrising unveiled school projects where students created their own virtual versions of historical moments including 1916 on Mindcraft. Schools around the country built virtual GPOs, soldiers in uniforms, created engaging narratives and songs and through the process changed mindsets on how school topics can be taught and deeply learnt. He finished his talk sharing the insights on how he is using these tools to enable students and others to start envisioning the future. At a recent event he gave a group of students the challenge of coming up with solutions to solve the health crisis in 2030. The range of solutions were fascinating and illustrated that with the right guidance, tools and openness that breakthroughs can be achieved.

Next up Congregation for Kids.

Report from #cong16

The full eBook will be available soon but in the meanwhile we will share a series of mini reports on each of the indivdiual apsects of the event from an analysis of the content to narrations on each element.

#cong16 Report Introduction

Cong village was once again invaded for the weekend by a diverse collection of consultants, teachers, academics, politicians, entrepreneurs, business owners, farmers, physiotherapist and psychologists who gathered to discuss the future. In the run up to the events all the participants produced a 600+ word blog submission which they presented and talked through on the day.

In its fourth year the annual Congregation festival has expanded to three days running from Friday 25th, to Sunday 26th with over 90 adults and 31 children attending. The centre piece of the event is the ‘unconference’ that took place on the Saturday in Cong Village but a small group were also treated to a series of fascinating talks in the private cinema in Ashford Castle on Friday night with the #cong16 finishing off with an archaeology tour of local heritage sites.


The thinking behind this years Congregation was to explore perspectives of the future from a myriad of view points and backgrounds. However it was also important to anchor this in the rich heritage and past through three different events.

• “The Past Meets the Future” presentations in Ashford Castle

• “The Future” huddles in Cong Village

• “The Rich Past” archaeology tours of Cong

Next up:  Ashford Castle Report.

CongRegation © Eoin Kennedy 2017 eoin at congregation dot ie