Programme of Lectures 2019-2020

    Our lecture programme for Autumn, Winter, and Spring 2019–20 is listed below. We hope that you will find something in the programme  to interest, inform and amuse you during the long dark months that are not so far ahead now.

    The lectures will take place on Tuesdays at 8pm (with the exception of the lecture on Thursday, the 17th of October, at 8pm) in meeting rooms in the Westport Hotel Group, as listed below. 

    Admission is free for members of the Civic Trust and €5.00 for non-members. That means that paid-up members are making a profit after 2½ lectures . . . .

    Tuesday, the 17th of September, in the Westport Coast Hotel

    Dr Elvira de Eyto (Marine Institute) ‘Tracking environmental change in the lakes and rivers of the Burrishoole catchment’
    How is our environment changing? What are the impacts of humans on our freshwater habitats? Are our attempts at managing our impact on the environment working? These are some of the questions that can best be answered using data collected over very long time-scales: decades, centuries and millennia. From the salmon returning each year to spawn, to the tiny plants and animals living in the streams draining the Nephins, continuous observation and recording allow us to measure how the environment is changing and what we can do to manage these habitats better. In this talk, Elvira will describe the work carried out at the Marine Institute’s research station in the Burrishoole catchment, resulting in many long-term datasets describing the environmental quality of Lough Feeagh and its rivers. She will talk about what the data tells us about our surrounding environment and how these data, collected on the west coast of Ireland, are being used across the world to answer questions of  global importance.

    Thursday, the 17th of October, in the Ashleigh Suite at the Castlecourt Hotel

    Prof John Bradley (Murrisk, ex-ESRI), ‘To Hell or to Connaught: The origins of Ireland's east-west economic divide’

    Economic weaknesses of a region tend to be exposed in bad times, not good. As Tolstoy wrote in the opening lines of Anna Karenina: "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” While carrying out a research project recently on the so called Atlantic Economic Corridor, and using Mayo as a case study, I was forced to reflect on how some key social, economic and business characteristics of the Irish western seaboard had their origins deep in our troubled history and how, even after independence in 1922, successive governments have either been unable, or perhaps were unwilling, to address them through effective regional development strategies.

    In Irish popular memory of the Cromwellian Plantation of the 1650s, the Commonwealth is said to have declared that the Irish must go "to Hell or to Connacht", west of the River Shannon. In part, this was a recognition that the value of that land was low. In part, it attempted to confine trouble makers as far west from the sources of power as possible. But having started as being peripheral within what became the United Kingdom after the 1801 Act of Union, it became embedded as being peripheral within the island of Ireland itself.

    With the exceptions of the city of Galway, its population was dispersed and provided little sustained stimulus to the manufacturing and services that were at the centre of growth and development during the UK-wide industrial revolutions of the late 18th and during the 19th centuries. Any efforts made to link Connaught to the more prosperous East and South were modest and blown away by the Great Famine. Experimentation with integrated rural development strategies such as that carried out by the Congested Districts Board in the late 19th century was discontinued after independence. Development of the island became increasingly lopsided, and the infrastructure priorities of the poorer, mainly western regions were dominated by the needs of the nations' five main cities: Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford.

    In the main part of the talk we take up the story of Connaught in the context of the recently published Project Ireland 2040 national development plan and its regional implementation through the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy drawn up by the Northern and Western Regional Assembly based in Ballaghaderreen. We consider the question: "Will current regional development strategies reverse centuries of decline and polarisation, or is the North-West region doomed to remain relatively remote and underdeveloped?" Our conclusions are not encouraging.

    Tuesday, the 19th of November, in the Walnut Suite at the Plaza Hotel

    Dr Conor Murphy (Maynooth University) ‘The wet and windy west? Climate Change: past, present, and future’
    Climate change, through the emissions of greenhouse gases, presents new challenges for communities across Ireland. Understanding how our climate has changed and the risks that lie ahead are central to building resilience in a changed world. In this presentation, I will outline our understanding of how rainfall, temperature and storms have changed over the past 100 years, pointing to extreme events that have impacted communities in the wet and windy west. I will also outline our understanding as to how future climate change is expected to unfold over the coming decades and discuss the transformations needed to both reduce (mitigate) the impacts and adjust (adapt) to a changed climate. Both approaches are needed, as even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases globally tomorrow, we are still committed to climate change impacts.

    Tuesday, the 10th of December, in the Walnut Suite at the Plaza Hotel

    Tony and Ger Reidy, Pre-Christmas music and poetry session

    Tuesday, the 21st of January, at the Westport Coast Hotel

    Seamus Gavin (GPrint Westport) ‘Photographs reflecting life in Westport 100+ years ago’

    Tuesday, the 18th of February, at the Westport Coast Hotel

    Dr Benjamin Thébaudeau (Ryan Institute, NUIG) ‘The Joyce Country Geopark project in north Connemara and south Mayo’

    Tuesday, the 24th of March, at the Westport Coast Hotel

    Kevin & Susan Denny (The Field, Leenane) ‘The Malawi Children's Village project’

    Tuesday, the 21st of April, at the Westport Coast Hotel

    Prof P J Duffy (Civic Trust and Maynooth University) ‘The land beyond the lights – rural electrification in Mayo and the rest of Ireland in the 1950s’

    Westport Civic Trust Aims

    Promote and initiate the preservation and protection, renewal and improvement of the buildings and other features of the natural, historical, cultural, scientific and architectural interest of the area, for the benefit of the community.

    Westport Civic Trust


    © 2018 Westport Civic Trust