Chairing Guidance for #cong16

Alec Taylor has kindly shared his experience and insights into how to chair the sessions for this years Congregation #cong16.  Watch the video below and browse the written guidance to help you prepare for Saturday November 26th in Cong Village.  

We will have four huddles during the day and will kick off regardless at 10.30am (some people have alerted us they will be late and some arriving at lunchtime).   We are planning a final briefing for chairs around 10am in Ryans Hotel.

We are aiming for 3 presentations per huddle and at the last huddle we will catch any remaining presentation and float the following open question.

“What Ideas/Suggestions/Concepts/Wish list do you have for creating a better future?”

Please capture this input for the eBook report.

The full briefing for attendees is here.




As participants arrive, display a pre-prepared flipchart with a 60-minute timetable (see second sheet) and appoint a Timekeeper (ask the first person through the door).


Stand by the door and welcome each participant individually and encourage each person to present.


Recruit three presenters with diverging topics, if possible while welcoming the group at the door.  Ask the presenters to sit apart from each other.


Involve another member of the group by asking them to stand beside the flipchart and write up spontaneously any names, websites, new terminology, buzz-words that are mentioned by the presenters.

THE START (of the 60-minute Timetable)


The Chairperson introduces themself (in 15 seconds) then chooses the next person from the group.  They do the same and this continues until everyone is covered.  Also invite people to share their ‘life hack’ ice breaker.


The Chairperson then introduces the 3 ‘volunteers’ and their topics (again 15 secs each) and asks the first presenter to speak. Pointing out that they have 10 mins for their presentation, then another 5 minutes for discussion. 

Explain that to help them finish on time (for everyone’s sake) they will receive the following ‘silent signals’ from the Timekeeper:

  • a ‘yellow card’ after 5 mins (half-way)
  • again a ‘yellow card’ after 8 mins (2 min to go)
  • a ‘red card’ at 10 mins.  (If they are still talking, they can finish their sentence, but no more.)



After each presentation, thank the presenter and invite the group to offer feedback (comments as well as questions).  Ask your own question (or make your own comment) to help the process along.



In the closing-session, shift the focus to the following questions:

o What interested you most in this Huddle?

o What is your key takeaway? 

Try to get 2-4 people to answer these questions in the short summing-up session.

Finally, motivate the individuals in the group who haven’t yet presented to take the opportunity at their next Huddle….and thank everyone for their active participation in  “What turned out to be a passable, live TV Show!”

© Alec Taylor Learning 2016


“(Chairperson’s full name) welcomes you to HUDDLE 1 in the Quiet Cailin”


  • 0   mins START - GROUP ‘GET-TO-KNOW’
  • 8   mins1st PRESENTATION + Q&A
  • 24 mins2nd PRESENTATION + Q&A
  • 40 mins3rd PRESENTATION + Q&A
  • 55 minsSUMMING-UP 
  • 60 minsFINISH

26th November, 2016

© Alec Taylor Learning 2016

Final Briefing for #cong16

We are now in the final run up to Congregation (Friday 25th through to Sunday 27th) in Cong Village and rather than multiple mails wanted to collate everything in one place, so it’s a long read.

Overall Schedule.

Friday 25th Ashford Castle (Booked Out)

19.30-22.00  Past Meets the Future.  4 Presentations.

Saturday 26th 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

19.00-21.00 : Dinner in Pat Cohan’s

21.00–late : Bodhran Workshop in Danagher’s

Sunday 27th. Archaeology Bus Tour, Church Car Park

11.00-13.00: Guided tours of Moytura battle field and ancient sites.

Saturday Unconference Running Order

Screen Shot 2016-11-15 at 16.11.35

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.  You choose how and when you wish to present.  We will have flip charts in each venue.  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.  At the final huddle we will ask people to share their suggestions for ‘Creating a Better Future’ which we will document in the eBook.  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 4.30pm with a group photo at the Cross in Cong Village.

We will all congregate in Ryan’s Hotel for a post unconference reception.  Dinner is booked upstairs in Pat Cohan’s for 19.00.  

We have 50 bodhran’s and a special fun workshop on how to play it for a trad session in Danaghers starting at 21.00.  This is a great chance to meet some new people, create a piece of music and collaborate. You can borrow one of the bodhrans or buy and take home for 15 euro.

Sunday Archaeology Tour

On Sunday we have 12 free places for a guided archaeology bus tour guided by ‘George the Highwayman’ and you will visit the sites of the 5000 year old Battle of Moytura, including Ballymacgibbon Cairn, the Glebe Stone Circles and the last stronghold of the Fir Bolg tribe Lisheenard. George is going to try and get as many sites in as possible so sturdy clothing, boots and rainwear is advisable.  The gathering point is the Church Car Park leaving at 11.00 sharp.

Ashford Castle Evening

Themed under ‘Past Meets the Future’ in Ashford Castle’s private cinema four speakers will guide us through DNA and Ancestry, Digital Puppetry, Archaeology meets Augmented Reality and Envisioning the Future using Mindcraft.  This event is now booked out and we are on waiting lists, so if you put your name down and cannot come please let me know.  The list of those registered is here.


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 –, Bank of Ireland and MKC Communications and Blacknight.  Outside of the two venues (Rare and Recent Books and Quiet Cailin) 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.


We have booked upstairs in Pat Cohan’s restaurant for dinner on Saturday night at 19.00 and this really is a great opportunity to connect with each other and explore some of the areas discussed.  There will be an a la carte menu available and individual billing is available. 


This year we have over 30 children signed up for the robotics and electronics workshop 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 event 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.

There are a few places left but 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.  

Please check this list to see if you are booked in.

Blog Submission

In preparation for #cong16 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 topics is really broad and reading them in advance prepares 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.


Currently there is some road works taking place in Cong Village so on street parking is more limited.  Please use the large car park at the entrance to the village or behind O’Connor’s Spar Shop/Garage and Ryans Hotel.  Please do not park in front of Ryan’s Butchers and narrow points of the road as large trucks have difficulty passing.

Getting to Cong

Most people are driving to Cong and I have set up a Google sheet here for anyone offering and looking for lifts.  If you are happy to take someone with you (great chance to get to know people) please fill out the form 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.

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)


Looking at the forecast it looks like rain is due that weekend so please bring warm clothing and wet gear especially if planning on walks in the woods or the guided bike tour.


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.  Taxi services are available to get back to your accommodation if outside the village.

Chris Brogan Books

Chris Brogans Books

In line with the unorthodox thinking behind Congregation we have multiple copies of Chris Brogan’s book ‘The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth’.  These can be picked up in Rare and Recent Bookshop and the lucky recipients will be announced on the Congregation Twitter channel.

Future Gazer Award

We will be giving an award to the “Congregation Visionary” in Ryans Hotel following the unconference.  This will be a combination of the opinions of the chairs (following deliberation) and social media impressions/website reads of the submission.  The lucky recipient will receive crystal ball.  

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 direct them to me or the website.

In the event of something unforeseen happening could send me your mobile number so I have them all centalised.

Finally you are the heart of Congregation and 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.  Please also take the guidance of the chairs who have a difficult task and encourage the quieter amongst us to contribute.

This event would not be possible without the generous support of, Bank or Ireland, MKC Communications and Blacknight and I would like to show my sincerely appreciation for their leap of faith enabling this event to take place.  I would also like to thank Power Design for the poster/lanyard designs that you will hopefully see on the way to Cong.

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.


Registered Names for Ashford Castle and Children’s Workshops

As part of #cong16 on Friday November 25th Ashford Castle will host an evening of talks themed ‘The Past Meets the Future’ and on Saturday November 26th we have all day workshops for childrens of the attendees.  Both of these have limited capacity so in the interests of coordinating them I have posted the names of those registered below.  If your name is not here please contact me as we may have cancellations.  Similarly if you cannot attend please let me know as soons as possible. 

Ashford Castle Attendees 19:00-22:00

Ginger Aarons

Theresa Rock

Sabina Bonnici

Ger Tannan

Dermot Casey

Sean O'Conbhui

Jane Leonard

John Leonard

Louis Grenier

Damian Costello

Don Delaney

Sean Fay

Declan Molloy

Averil Staunton

Sean McGrath

Billy Kennedy

Bernie Goldbach

Ruth Goldbach

Tom Murphy

Sabine McKenna

Kathryn Parkes

Maire Garvey

Fergal O'Connor

Julian Ellison

Barry Kennedy

Mike Mulligan

Stephen Howell

Gar MacCríosta

John Tierney

Mary Carthy

Alan O'Rourke

Lisa White

Annette Canty

Childrens Workshops (Parents) 9.30-17.00

Fiona Curran Lonergan

Maryrose Lyons

Damian Costello

Eoin Kennedy

Ruairi Kavanagh

John McGee

Ailish Irvine

Gar Mac Críosta

Mary McCarthy

Bernie Goldbach

Jenny O'Reilly

Mark Leydon

Stephen Howell

Michelle Gavin

Emmet O'Donnell

Julian Ellison

The Future Unveiled in Cong Village

#cong16 Poster Final low res

The Future Unveiled in Cong Village

  • 3 days of debate, discussion on the Future Nov 25-27th
  • Evening talks in Ashford Castle, full day Unconference and Guided Archaeology tours
  • Topics range from future of Artificial Intelligence to Farming
  • Robotics and Electronics workshops for Childrens of attendees
  • Bodhran workshop and music session
  • Written, audio and video submissions accepted till Nov 23rd
  •, Bank of Ireland, MKC and Blacknight sponsoring #cong16

(02.11.16) The annual Congregation Un-conference (, is set to attract 100 attendees debating, discussing and sharing their vision of the ‘The Future’ when it kicks off in Cong Village from Friday 25th to Sunday 27th November 2016.

This year’s event incorporates three days staring with a series of talks in Ashford Castle on ‘The Past Meets the Present’.  John Mulligan from will talk about using DNA analysis to trace your ancestors, Stephen Howell will discuss ‘Bringing History to Life with Digital Puppetry’, John Tierney from Historic Graves will present the ‘Future of Experiences’ while Gar Mac Críosta, MindRising will share his use of Mindcraft in ‘The Future of Learning and the Learning of Futures’.

The Saturday unconference will see all attendees present their submission on their vision of the future spread across as wide spectrum of sector and interests from the future of farming, education, play, work, truth through to artificial intelligence and augmented/virtual reality.  The all day unconference will take place in 8 venues in Cong Village spread over 4 sessions with three presentations at each huddle over tea/coffees. 

The festival will finish with guided archaeology tours of historic sites in the Cong area from ancient battle grounds to burial cairns.

While the attendees are debating the future their children will be attending Lego robotics and Makey Makey electronic workshops in the Crossroads Community Centre.

Entry to the festival is via a 600+ word submission that is posted in advance on the congregation website and submissions will be accepted up to November 23rd.  Anyone interested in attending should summit their vision of the future through the Congregation website  

Following the unconference on the Saturday night attendees will be treated to a Bodhran workshop where they will learn to play the instrument and participate in a music jam.

Commenting organiser Eoin Kennedy said “Congregation is a great opportunity for anyone with a curious mind who wish to hear and share a perspective of what the future holds for us.  There is no charge but rather people pay with their insights.  Outside of the incredible array of insights during the day and informal sharing people get to meet and connect at a much deeper level than normal with specially designed networking opportunities. ”      

Following the conference a full eBook will be created.  The free eBooks from 2013, 2014 and 2015 are available as a download on

The event is proudly sponsored by, Bank of IrelandMKC Communications and Blacknight.  


Congregation takes place in Cong, which is a small village in Co Mayo and home to The Quiet Man and Ashford Castle.  Throughout the day coffee shops, bars and restaurants will be alive with people sharing stories and insights into the future.  Each session will last one hour, with two in the morning and two in the afternoon.  A free ticket is delivered to attendees once they produce their submission paper and teas/coffee/lunch will be provided during the day.

As each attendee is also a speaker, everyone who goes is a stakeholder and central to the event.  Special breaks are built into the day to facilitate social interaction and social calendar is planned for the Friday and Saturday evening.  This the 4th year of the event.


Eoin Kennedy,


+353 86 8339540

CongRegation © Eoin Kennedy 2017 eoin at congregation dot ie