Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m Professor of British and Irish History at Ulster University. Previously I’ve held chairs of History in the UK and New Zealand and I’ve written ten books about the Irish Diaspora. I’m a member of the AHRC Peer Review College, the Inner Panel of the Irish Research Council and an assessor for the Australian Research Council.
What motivated you to bid for an international conference?
I was contacted by Aoife McHale from Visit Derry, who briefed me about the Visit Derry Ambassador Network, outlining the areas where Visit Derry could help. I successfully bid for the Canadian Association for Irish Studies annual conference (CAIS), an annual event for the Canadian Association for Irish Studies, and focused broadly on all things Irish, from history and literature, to language and music. Visit Derry and I worked closely together over the coming two years and I was delighted to be so ably supported.
In your opinion, why was Ireland successful in securing this conference?
Support from Visit Derry was very important. Their help and organisational skills in assisting with the CAIS conference was crucial — from accommodation, to securing the Derry Guildhall, the reception, and the many other things they helped with, everything was amazing.
What makes Ireland a world-class meeting destination?
In reputational terms, this conference showed that Derry can successfully host an event of this size. The Mayor kindly hosted a drinks reception and some of the local providers got on board — Northbound Craft Beer and The Quiet Man Whiskey both supported the conference with complimentary receptions. It was brilliant to see support like this from local businesses.
What is Ireland’s legacy from hosting this international conference?
I'm very proud our city hosted such a wonderful conference. The conference took place over four days and attracted a record attendance of 140 delegates, with most international delegates extending their stay. Holding CAIS in Derry has resulted in serious discussion about further similar events in Irish Studies.
To find out how you can be a Conference Ambassador, contact our Association Team.