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.


CongRegation © Eoin Kennedy 2017 eoin at congregation dot ie