#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.

WIFI

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.

Tea/Coffee/Lunch

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.

ATM

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.

Dinner

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.

Parking

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.

Weather

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.

Accommodation

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.

Briefing note for CongRegation 2021 #cong21

We are almost there for the start of #cong21 on November 27th.

CongRegation is once again a virtual event as covid and huddles are not good bed fellows.  However judging from last year, although its poor relative, we can still have engaging discussions and interactions.

Some of you will be travelling to Cong and I do hope you experience a kind of blended event, even if you are still dialling in from your device.  Most of the normal coffee shops and hotels will be open and they are happy to host you.  Your coffee/teas and lunches will be covered as part of your earned entry.

The following is a long read but should help you prepare for the day

First the Basics:

Date: Saturday 27th Nov

Time start: 10:15am orientation

Huddles: 10:30-11:30am, 12:00-1:00pm, 2:00-3:00pm and 3:30-4:30pm

Breaks: 11:30-12:00, 1:00-2:00, 2:30-3:00

Platform: Zoom and breakout rooms

Evening entertainment: Poetry Open Mic 7pm

Registration:

CongRegation will be delivered via the Zoom platform this year.  All the registrations are being centralised via zoom.  Plesse contact Eoin for this link.

It is very important that you register.  Once you register (very simple name, organisation, contact details) you will receive a link and connection details for the day.  I also ask if you are coming to Cong so I can connect you with each other in advance so you know who is around especially for having lunch together and meeting up for drinks afterwards.  This link is unique to you so please do not share as two of you will appear on the screen.  I will resend these again the day before but it is advisable to put the link into a calendar entry for the day.  Although you don’t need a zoom account, it’s a better experience if you have one so my strong advice is to set up a Zoom account (its free to set up) especially if you need to download any software.  You can also join from your phone so you don’t have to be tethered to your computer and can participate on the move.

Preparation

Before Saturday 27th it really helps if you read as many of the submissions as possible.  Rather than homework this just opens your mind on the breath of thinking on the theme of leadership.  The next ask is comment on ones that inspire you and please share as much as you are comfortable with.  This advance sharing is not just self serving (ie letting people know about the event) but more about spreading the discussions and engagement on this important arena.  Please use #cong21 so we can see your thoughts.

Assuming you have submitted your thoughts, have a think about how you would like to present it.  In general people have historically just shared their thoughts verbally but we maybe able to accommodate shared screens if you wish to show something.  It might be helpful to make some notes about what you wish to say focusing particularly on how you wish to close your contribution.  You decide when, when and how you present.

On the day

I am taking a very flexible approach to #cong21.  This means I will be in the virtual lobby all day so if you need to jump on and off I can direct you to a huddle when you rejoin.    I will open CongRegation at 10:15am with a short introduction and orientation.  You will maybe in the waiting room for a few seconds until I admit you.  At the end of this I will spilt the group into a smaller number of huddles.  The max number will be 10 people per huddle but I believe smaller huddles will lead to more intimate conversations.  After all you only need two people to have a conversation.  On screen you will receive a notification telling you which room to go to.  You must click accept.  You will then be brought to the huddle which will essentially be the video feed or icons/photos of the people in your huddle.  Please keep your camera on as much as you can.  Once in the huddle switch to grid view (button at the top of the screen) to see everyone in the room.  If using someone elses account change your name by clicking on the attendee button at the bottom of the screen and change it to your name.  If the group is big or if there is a lot of background noise the chair may ask everyone to mute, especially for the first few huddles.  Even with no background noise some PCs pick up background noise.  If joining with a tablet or phone you may need to press your screen to see the different options available.

Huddling

Each huddle lasts one hour.  The chair will welcome everyone and start proceedings by asking each person to introduce themselves and share a life hack.  Please limit your personal introduction to one or two sentences rather than your entire biography.  You will be asked to do this at each huddle.  For your life hack pick a life tip, pragmatic piece of advice or something you live your life by.  It can simple, funny or deep and meaningful but frequently this is something people really remember.  A piece of advice you got from an old boss would also be on theme.  They are important as they start the conversation flowing.

The chair will invite three people to present per huddle.  It really helps if we have three people lined up at the start of the huddle and early volunteers really help the establishing of a momentum.  Each person will be given 10-15 minutes to share their thoughts followed by a 5 minute Q&A.  While the person is presenting please keep yourself muted unless they specifically invite people to interject while they are talking.  The chat function is a particularly good function to raise points you would like to discuss or questions you would like to ask.  You can send messages to the entire group or specifically to one person e.g. the chair.  The hands up function is also useful to indicate you have something to add.  During the Q&A its appreciated if you thank the speaker but it also useful if you state your name as is might be obvious who is speaking. Following each contribution the chair will summarise some of the key points before asking for comments or questions.  The chair may kick start the discussion with some questions of his/her own and might also start with comments or questions on chat.  Please step up and share your own thoughts on what you have heard but follow some of the guidance below on the rules of engagement.  The contributions are meant to be catalyst for conversations rather than perfect portrayals of the vast arena of leadership.  The chair will be keeping a close eye on time so please be understanding if they move to the next speaker while the discussion is ongoing.  We want to make sure there is time for everyone to present.  The chair may also give you hand signals or a polite reminder of how much time is remains to keep contributions to the 10 minutes.  The chair will also use their own discretion and experience on the time allowed so some contributions might run over the 10 minutes allocated.  If you wish extra time just alert the chair in advance.  The chair may also call on specific people to encourage them to give their own views.  They may also ask some others to limit their views in the spirit of fairness and letting all voices to float to the top.  As we are online this year you might find it useful to check out the contribution being discussed by reading it on screen.  We won’t know what you are looking at and it might really add to the quality of debate.

A one minute notice of the ending of each huddle will appear on screen, after which you will be brought back to the main group.  Once the huddle is finished there is a 30 minute break but please come back as promptly as possible as I will be splitting the group into new huddles.

The allocation of breakout room is random but If you find yourself in the same collection of people come back to the main area (just leave the breakout room) and I will try allocate you to a new huddle.  You may need to log out and log back in for me to do this.  You can also summon me to the huddle if you wish to check out something.

Each huddle will follow the same structure with the aim of finishing at 4.30pm.  We will all regroup for a group shot – virtual screen grab this year.

Please feel free to tweet or post to your favourite social media platform as the day progresses.  Please ask for group consent before recording anything.  Full agreement of all is needed before recording anything.

To make it feel a little bit more like Cong Village I have designed up some simple virtual backdrops that you can use.

During the breaks I will try to accommodate breakout rooms for people who wish to catch up or continue discussions.

Self Help

Sitting a PC all day can be draining regardless of how stimulating the experience is.

At a start have a good supply of refreshment available – I suggest a flask of coffee but thats my choice of poison.

Evening Time Entertainment: Poetry Open Mic

I am delighted that Paul O’Mahony will once again MC the poetry Open Mic.  Let us know if you wish to be added to the list of poets.  This can be a self penned piece, your favourite poem or a funny limerick.  However poems should be relatively short.  Full guidance will be given in advance.  This session kicks off at 7.30pm but ask all poets to assemble at 6.15pm so Paul can schedule everyone.  We will use the same link.  You can contact Paul via email.

Rules of Engagement

Below is not designed to restrict you but rather a common sense approach to make sure we are all be respectful.

We are all peers and equal respect should be shown to all attendees.

Please do not give or take offense.

Dialogue is good but should be constructive.

This is not a competition but a meeting of minds.

Contributions are a catalyst for conversation rather than things to be challenged.

Aim for one or two areas that really inspired you and build on conversations.

Be succinct. Long rambling points can be very disconcerting especially in an online forum.  Make your point or addition but also practice self restraint.

Huddles can very comfortable and safe environments but do not confused them with therapy sessions.

Please keep unrelated personal stories to offline exchanges.

Stick to the theme of Leadsership. Fascinating as other segues may be, people have given up their Saturday to hear about the topic area.

Help quieter voices – ask other attendees if they have views. This will really help the chairs.

Everyone has given up substantial time composing their contribution and valuable time on a Saturday. Please respect this.

Think about the impact of what you say can have on other people. What you might think is a fair point could be taken as deeply offensive.  Pause and paraphrase.

Offensive, sexist, racist, homophobic, ageist or personally abusive comments will not be tolerated.

Follow the directions of the chair. They have the toughest job of all and give their time to keep proceedings flowing.

Debates can become heated and robust exchanges are expected but please draw a breath, forgive, rephrase and if necessary apologise. We all make mistakes and comments in anger and are rarely the best portrayal of our true selves.

Anyone deliberately disrupting huddles may be asked to leave.

Please step up and share but practice self restraint. Be mindful others may also wish to speak but too shy to interrupt.

We are all adults and are here to progress collective thinking.

Attending in Person

If you are making a weekend of it and travelling to Cong you will experience a kind of blended experience.  For clarity sake I am to reemphasise that you will still be logging in via zoom.  My suggestion is that you should do a huddle in a different venue in Cong.  As of the time of writing the venues that will be open are Puddleducks, McHugh’s (a new venue in the same spot as Butler and Byrne), Ryans Hotel, Danagher’s Hotel and hopefully Lydons.  Rob in Rare and Recent is also willing to accommodate  one of two people in the bookstore.  Each should have ample broadband but you should also test tethering with your phone, just in case. Please use headsets as there will be other patrons in each venue.  We will cover your tea/coffees in venues that sell them and your lunch.  Please tell them you are there for CongRegation and I will settle up with the later.  For those of you who prefer to stay in one location the Crossroads centre opposite the entrance to Ashford Castle is also available.  There will be basic tea/coffee so it might be an idea to get refreshments from the village.  We will all be gathering in Danaghers from 9.00pm for pints and a chat after the Poetry Open Mic.  I also suggest that you have lunch with other attendees but will leave to each of you to decide.  Dinner is available from the different hotels and I hope Pat Cohans but dinner will be on your own tab I am afraid.  I will connect everyone who tells me they are coming in person (on the registration link) via email, so you cam reach out to each other in advance.

Observers

Some people will be attending as observers.  This is a bit of a misnomer as you can participate like everyone else but not compelled to present a submission.  If you wish to send in a submission after the event I will gladly post it.

Finally.

I will be open for submissions until Friday so if you know of someone who might be interested please forward on the invite to them.  Just make sure they register to get the link.#cong21

 

#cong19 Attendee Briefing Note

Instructions and Schedule for CongRegation 2019 #cong19

With there weeks to go to CongRegation #cong18 (Nov 22nd – 24th) I wanted to give you one centralised run down and briefing to make the event as enjoyable as possible.  In total there are 8 events so this is a long read.  Please take time to read and check the centralised registration link.

Overall Schedule.

Friday 23rd Ashford Castle (Booked Out)

19.00-22.00 Community Talks.  Reception followed by 5 Presentations in the Private Cinema.

20.00-23.00 Maker Meet in Danaghers Hotel.  (earlier session for those not attending Ashford Castle)

Saturday 24th Unconference. Cong Village

9.30 : Registration Children’s workshops in the Crossroads Centre

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

15.30-16.30 : Huddle 4

16.30 : Photo at Cong Cross

17.00 : Reception in Ryan’s

18.00-19.30 : Dinner in Lydons/Ryans/Danaghers

19.30 : Poetry Open Mic Danagers.  MC Paul O’Mahony

20.00–21.00 :  Whistle Your Way to Music Glory – Tin Whistle Workshop.  Jenny Mulvey

21.00-22.00 : Hyphurm – New Ambient Music by Max Hastings

Sunday 25th. Mindfulness through Daftness, Cong Woods.

Assemble at the John Wayne Statue

11.00-13.00: Hangover cure breathing to mindfulness session in Cong Woods (weather permitting).  Led by Derval Dunford.

Ashford Castle Evening

Themed under a ‘Community Talks’ our speakers will share stories of community insights from the Quiet Man Movie, explore the concept of belong, explain what bonds communities together, share the insights of how a community project went from zero to 5 countries with no budget in under a year and finally how to really hear and know what your community thinks. 

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 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 with presentations 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 a 1 minute walk.

The provisional running order is:

• Professor Pat Dolan, NUIG on ‘The Quiet Man …. and the not so Quiet Man’

•          Leadership and Development Coach, Nadine McCarthy on ‘ Weaving the thread of Community – From I to We (…whilst still including me)’

•          Author Kevin McDermott on ‘Belonging’

•          Semantics Expert Alastair Herbert, LinguaBrand on ‘Why Listening Beats Talking’

•          Community Builder, Tracy Keogh, BOI/Grow Remote on Building a Community from Scratch

(Note this event is now full but you can leave your name on the waiting list – see below.  No food will be served at this event so please ensure you have eaten before you get to Ashford Castle)

After Ashford Castle we will retire to Danaghers where Pamela O’Brien, Chris Reina and Hassan Dabbagh will run a special ‘Maker Meet’.  Expect engineering and electronics challenges.  There will be two sessions – one at 8.00pm for those not attending Ashford Castle and after 10pm.

Saturday Unconference Running Order

Registration takes place from 9.30-10.15 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, followed by a 5 minute Q&A. 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.  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 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 all congregate in Ryan’s Hotel for a post unconference reception.  Dinner will be in Ryans/Danaghers and Lydons.  We are also exploring the option of a special banquet. 

Free Headshots

As part of your ticket you can get a free headshot taken by professional photographer Gerry, Dreamline Photo Studio.  Gerry will set up a mobile studio in Ryan’s Hotel and send them to you following the event.  Make sure you brush your hair. 

Thypia – Creative Muse

Over the course of the CongRegation you can simply enter a problem at www.thypia.com and a creative muse will deliver an anonymous personalized response to your problem.  All we can promise is you will get a creative response.  Our muse is already working on problems so you don’t have to wait until #cong19.  Try it out today

19.30 Poetry Open Mic

At the inaugural poetry open mic in 2018 I was stunned by the calibre of original poetry and the willingness of people to grasp the opportunity to recite their favourite poems.  A cliché I know but you could hear a pin drop.  Thankfully Paul O’Mahony has agreed to MC once again.  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 Whistle Your Way to Music Glory – Tin Whistle Workshop

This year we are embracing the humble Tin Whistle.  We will have 30-50 Tin Whistle at this fun 1 hour workshop starting with the basics and finishing with a jamming session under the expert guidance of Jenny Mulvey.  If you have a tin whistle (or your children’s) bring it along or you can buy one for €7 each.  This session starts at 20.00 until 21.00.  This is a great chance to meet some new people, create a piece of music and collaborate.  We might not get beyond ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ but should be fun.

21.00 Hyphurm – New Ambient Music by Max Hastings 

Following the music session you will have a chance to sit back and listen as Max Hastings, who has attended many CongRegations, will demo his new ambient music material under the Aklivitus label.  You can sample some it on his Soundcloud.

Sunday Mindfulness through Daftness 11.00

We are lucky with the vast skills of CongRegation attendees and Derval Dunford will lead a fun but practical mindfulness session in Cong Woods.  For those who over indulged the ‘Hangover Cure Breathing’ could be particularly attractive.  Sturdy boots, hat, gloves and full waterproofs just in case of bad weather are a must.  Meeting point is the John Wayne status at 11am.

Venues and Chairs

The chairs and the 8 venues for #cong19 are:

1.         Robbie Canavan | Byrne and Fallon | Two groups here. Lunch served.

2.         Mags Amond | 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 Byrne & Butler.

5.         Barry Kennedy | Lydons | One group. Downstairs. Lunch served here.

6.         Averil Staunton | Rare and Recent | One group. Lunch in Ryans.

7.         Mike O’Rourke | Byrne and Fallon | Two groups. Lunch Served.

8.         Tony O’Kelly | Ryans | One Group | Upstairs area over the bar. Lunch served.

WIFI

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.

Tea/Coffee/Lunch

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, Advanced Productivity Skillnet, MKC Communications and Blacknight.  Outside of the four venues (Togher Photo Studio, Rare and Recent book store) lunch will be in the last pre lunch venue.

ATM

There is now one ATM in Cong located in Danaghers Hotel but best to bring some cash with you.  The next nearest ATM is Clonbur Village about 5km away.

Dinner

We are exploring the option of a special CongRegation Banquet in Butler & Byrne (minimum of 25 people) but dinner is also available in Ryans, Danaghers and Lydons on Saturday night from 18.00.  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.

Children’s Workshops

We are expecting over 30 children for the ‘Maker Meet’ and Drama/Clay Modelling workshops 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 group photo 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 #cong19 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. Community was a challenging topic for this year and impossible for one submission to cover it all but I have been fascinated by the range of perspectives and angle that you have all taken.  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.

Parking

Please use the large car park at the entrance to the village at the roundbout 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)

Weather

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.

Accommodation

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.  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.  There are still places available in Ryans and Danaghers but these will vanish pretty fast.

Centralised Registration

I have centralised registration booking for the 8 different events on this sheet to give us rough numbers.  This covers all the different events but the really important ones are 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), the Children’s workshops, the Tin Whistle session (all can attend but we have only bought so many Tin Whistles) and the Sunday Mindfulness. Please check out the different tabs and put in your names and numbers.

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. 

Problem Solving Muse.

Once again this year we recruited our CongRegation problem solving creative Muse called Thypia https://www.thypia.com

We challenge you to input drop in whatever problem you are facing and our creative solution provider will deliver a personalised response to you by email.  We cannot promise it will be the perfect answer but we do guarantee that a creative muse will review, analyse and give an anonymous response.  You can start adding your problems now through this link but we will also have cards on the day that you can fill out.

At this point we are on target for over 80-100 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 share this email, direct them to me or the website.

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

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.

This event would not be possible without the generous support of Mayo.ie, Advanced Productivity Skillnet, MKC Communications and Blacknight and I would like to show my sincerely appreciation for their leap of faith in 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.