CeangalG St Columba Conference
Donegal, June 2014
Chris MacIntyre, Columba’s Trail
Location: Good (apart form having to move to another hotel towards the end)
Conference talks: In the main, the talks were interesting though some a little dry. The translation service was very good.
Session allocated to discuss the actual development of a Columba Trail: Too short and did not reach a suitable conclusion or offer any definite progress to a next step.
As a tour guide this was one of the aspects of the conference I was most interested in and was a little disappointed that it did not develop further and was indeed a little rushed.
Tours: On the whole the visits to the various places and the tour of Tory Island were very good and well organised and no one felt rushed. This aspect of the conference was for me the highlight as it brought the whole Columba experience alive and more interactive. I would have preferred the tours to have interspersed with the talks rather than too much heavy duty lectures on the first full day!
Conference achievement: Networking. This without a doubt was the best feature of the entire event. It allowed people with a common interest in Columba etc. to meet and network with each other. As a direct result of this, Bernie Moran, a local tour guide who was also at the conference came over to Argyll in August and we met up briefly while on her way to Iona and discussed some more aspects of developing a Columba Trail and making closer connections between Argyll and the Irish Gaeltacht.
There was quite a diverse number of people there but I felt it was weighted a little heavily towards the academics rather than the possible “foot soldiers” on the ground such as local businesses, tour guides, crafts people etc but I reckon that will develop with time as these things do. The fact that a start has been made to begin to attempt at promoting a Columba Trail through Ireland and Scotland is progress and I appreciate these things take time and money, however this conference has shown that the will and the interest is there.
Conclusion: I think the concept behind CeangalG is very good in that it has started to develop a “bridge” between the Irish Gaeltacht and the West of Scotland. So far for me it has highlighted the many links and aspirations we have and I now have a greater working knowledge of what is going on across the water from em here in Argyll and that I can develop greater links with fellows guides, historians etc. I hope that this development will continue and hope that our Irish friends can now come over to Argyll/Skye and the islands and perhaps actually follow some of Columba’s route through Argyll over to Iona.
Overall organisation for a conference of this kind was, however, excellent. Math fhèin.