From Thursday 10 November to Saturday 12 November NUI Galway hosted the a major academic conference at NUIG, entitled Ireland 1916-2016: The Promise and Challenge of National Sovereignty. The conference represented an historic and ambitious gathering of major scholars, both from Ireland and overseas, to examine and advance our understanding of what Irish independence really means. The conference facilitated an intensive exploration of two connected themes: the vision and aspiration invested in an independent Irish state by idealists and thinkers of the revolutionary generation; and the challenges facing the Irish sovereign State in 2016 and the visions and horizons of ambition that should inspire the Irish people as they face the future.
A number of key sub-themes provided the platform for this high-level inquisition of Ireland’s prospects, all the while linking the discussion to the ideas and ideals espoused by the revolutionary generation. The conference comprised plenary sessions, each with a keynote speaker and a panel of respondents. Plenary speakers included Seán Ó Foghlú, Secretary General of Education & Skills; Philip Pettit, L.S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values at Princeton University; An Taoiseach Enda Kenny; Roy Foster, Carroll Professor of Irish History at Hertford College, Oxford; Heather Humphreys T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Claire Willis, Leonard L. Milberg Professor of Irish Letters at the University of Princeton; Kevin O’Rourke, Chichele Professor of Economic History at the University of Oxford; Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford; and Dr Maurice Manning, Chair of the Decade of Centenaries Expert Advisory Committee and Chancellor of the National University of Ireland.