Ashford Castle Attendees Evening of Innovation Stories

The evening of Innovation Stories in the private cinema in Ashford Castle is offically full but we do have a waiting list so if your name is not on the list and you are interested in attending please contact eoin at

The event will kick off at 8.00 sharp and you are invited to arrive from 7pm.  Dress code is smart casual.  

  1. Pauline Madigan Institute of Technology in Carlow (IT Carlow) Lecturer
  2. Leon Tunney Ware Westport Adventure Park Entrepreneur
  3. Sean Brady CloudAssist Entrepreneur
  4. Karen O'Donnell Karen O'Donnell Communications
  5. Haydn Shaughnessy Innovation Author
  6. David Pollard Rehab Innovation Pioneer
  7. Linda Barron ICBE Project & Network Manager
  8. Martin MurrayConsultant
  9. Sudha Mani Sudha Mani Coach and Mentor
  10. Sabine Mckenna ComputerKidsOnline Educator/Entrepreneur
  11. John Davitt Davitt Learning speaker, broadcaster and digital toolmaker.
  12. Liam O'Morain Akurro Entrepreneur
  13. Barry Kennedy IMR CEO
  14. Billy Kennedy Retired Life Experienced
  15. Joan Mulvihill DCU Centre Director - IC4
  16. Dermot Casey NDRC Venture Investment Leader
  17. Paul O'Mahony Marketing Write Now Entrepreneur
  18. Joe Ritys Hosturi Entrepreneur
  19. Morgan McKeagney Framlabs Entrepreneur
  20. Carol Passemand Carol Passemard Coach and Mentor
  21. Bernard Joyce New Paradigms Entrepreneur
  22. Don Delaney D2 Communications Communications
  23. Alan Dowling INC60 Entrepreneur
  24. Paddy Delaney Informed Decisions Financial Advisor and Podcaster
  25. Sandra Losty
  26. Dermot O'Neill ICBE
  27. Fergal O’Connor Buy Media Entrepreneur
  28. Sinead Hewson, TpEBO
  29. Frank Hannigan, Entrepreneur
  30. Ginger Aaron, Travel Entrepreneur
  31. Barre Fitzpatrick
  32. Cronan McNamara, Entrepreneur


Briefing Note for Attendees at #cong17

In advance of Congregation below are the main details of the running order and structure of the event.  Please take time to read .

Overall Schedule.

Friday 24th Ashford Castle (Booked Out)

19.00-22.00  Innovation Stories.  Reception in Connaught Room followed by 5 Presentations in Private Cinema. Finishes with Art sketch crawl in Danaghers.

Saturday 25th 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 Ryans/Danaghers

20.00–late : Harmonica Workshop in Danagher’s

Sunday 27th. Mountain Walk, Mount Gable.  Assemble outside O’Connor Spar Shop

11.00-13.00: Short walk up Mt Gable (weather permitting) 

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.  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 have a number of new venues for this year.

We will all congregate in Ryan’s Hotel for a post unconference reception.  Dinner will be a mix of Ryans/Danagher and Lydons rather than one formal sit down (Pat Cohans is closed this year)  

We have 50 harmonicas and a special fun workshop on how to play the blues in Danaghers starting at 20.00.  This is a great chance to meet some new people, create a piece of music and collaborate. You can borrow one of the harmonicas or buy and take home for 12 euro.

Sunday Archaeology Tour

On Sunday we will be taking a short hike up Mt Gable outside Clonbur so sturdy clothing, boots and rainwear is necessary.  The gathering point is outside O’Connor Spar shop with bus/cars leaving at 11.00 sharp.

Ashford Castle Evening

Themed under Innovation stories in Ashford Castle’s private cinema five speakers will guide us through Non Nonsense Innovation, Innovation and Failure, Innovation Research, Driving Innovation through Listening and Innovating your life.  This event is booked out with those who have indicated they will attend on the site but if you are interested you need to let me know as soon as possible. The full line up is also on the site.  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.

After Ashford Castle we will retire to Danagher where you can catch up or participate in an art sketch crawl and learn some new talents.


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 –, Innovation and Lean Sigma Skillnet, Bank of Ireland and MKC Communications and Blacknight.  Outside of the four venues (Togher Photo Studio, Cong Art Gallery, Court House 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.


Pat Cohan’s restaurant is closed for the season so rather than one venue we will be spread between Ryans, Danaghers and Lydons for dinner on Saturday night at 19.00.  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. 


We are expecting over 30 children for the science and rocket making 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.

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 #cong17 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.  We are now up on 60 submissions and they are very inspiring and bodes well for the day.  For those still to submit drop me a line and let me know how you are getting on.


Please use the large car park at the entrance to the village or behind O’Connor’s Spar Shop/Garage (closes at 7pm) 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 will publish a list of those offering and looking for lifts.  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 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.  There are also some nice options on AirBnB.  There are still places available in Ryans and Danaghers but these will vanish pretty fast.

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, Innovation & Lean Sigma Skillnet, 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 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.


CongRegation © Eoin Kennedy 2017 eoin at congregation dot ie