Today’s podcast is the first in a series of conversations recorded at Congregation 2018, which was held last month in Cong, Co Mayo. It was the sixth year of this unique unconference event, and the theme this year was ‘Ideas’. Blacknight is a sponsor of Congregation.

Congregation founder Eoin Kennedy addresses the crowd at the conclusion of this year's event. Blacknight is a sponsor of Congregation. Photo: Gerry Dzerinaldas, Dreamline Photography

Photo: Gerry Dzerinaldas, Dreamline Photography

As the crowd gathered around the cross on Main Street for the traditional annual photograph, I chatted to the event’s founder and organiser Eoin Kennedy, and asked for his assessment of this year’s event.

Click on the player below to play the podcast, or download it here: 06:56; 4MB; MP3.

“My litmus test is that I go in and I listen and if the conversations are buzzing, I know that’s been successful. People are still chatting. Nobody’s in an eager rush to meander on. The range of topics has been amazing and even the type of format that people put in. So in the submissions that went up on the site we had everything from poems to YouTube videos to audio to quotes – so people were really creative about how they submitted”.

The strength of Congregation is in the variety and diversity of the participants.

“My take on it is that none of us has all the pieces, but we have bits of the jigsaw puzzle and we can make it together”

He was particularly pleased at the variety in age profiles at this year’s event.

“The youngest was 13 and the oldest was 82. So that adds a lot to it because you have vast experience and new perspectives”

You can’t buy a ticket for Congregation. There are no passive participants. Everyone who attends has earned their place by making a submission on the theme. Throughout Saturday, participants gather in groups known as huddles to discuss each others’ submissions – to learn and to teach.

Congregation founder Eoin Kennedy is interviewed by Conn Ó Muíneacháin for The Blacknight Podcast. Photo: Gerry Dzerinaldas, Dreamline Photography

Photo: Gerry Dzerinaldas, Dreamline Photography

Over the next few weeks we’ll feature interviews recorded at Congregation, here on the Blacknight Podcast and Blog. And the theme for 2019 has already been announced. It’s ‘Community’.

Subscribe for free to receive The Blacknight Podcast, via Apple Podcasts or RSS.

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