West Cork autumn school to discuss the big issues

Global and national challenges are set to be explored at the local level at an inaugural autumn school in West Cork.

West Cork autumn school to discuss the big issues

By Majella Flynn

Global and national challenges are set to be explored at the local level at an inaugural autumn school in West Cork.

Climate change and agriculture, gender equality, and rural tourism are among the topics up for discussion at the Máire Ní Síthigh Autumn School in Courtmacsherry over the October bank holiday weekend.

“We have a fantastic line-up of speakers, with some of the most recognisable names in politics, journalism, broadcasting, filmmaking, agriculture, climate studies, and tourism, making their way to Courtmacsherry at the end of this month,” said Barry Holland, chairman of Seven Heads Peninsula Tourism and autumn school organising committee.

Moderated by broadcaster and journalist Suzanne Campbell, the climate change discussion will focus on how Irish agriculture can remain resilient and can prosper in the context of climate change.

Speakers on the panel will be Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, Met Éireann’s Seamus Walsh, the IFA’s Harold Kingston, and UCC’s Paul Deane.

The tourism discussion, chaired by Cork Airport’s Kevin Cullinane, will look at how rural areas can capitalise on the influx of visitors, as a result of initiatives such as the Wild Atlantic Way, and ensuring sustainability.

Speakers will be Visit Cork’s Seamus Heaney, Siobhán Burke of Sheep’s Head Peninsula and West Cork Experiences, and Celtic Ross Hotel’s general manager, Neil Grant.

The autumn school is the product of local efforts to extend the tourist season in Courtmacsherry and the Seven Heads peninsula.

“Following our discussions with Fáilte Ireland, last year, we delivered on our commitments to lengthen the tourist season,” said Mr Holland.

“This was always a two-month season, with the bulk of tourists visiting in July and August. We have now broadened that to a six-month season, and this summer started out on a particularly good note, with the success of the Courtmacsherry Seafood Feast on the May bank holiday weekend.”

The event is being hosted in the Anchor Bar, Courtmacsherry Hotel, Pier House Bar, and Courtmacsherry Community Centre. Attendance is free.

The autumn school is being held in honour of local woman Máire Ní Síthigh. Born in 1867, she was a writer, playwright, translator, and member of Conradh na Gaeilge.

A lecture on this “unsung heroine” will be delivered by composer Máire Ní Dhuibhir, NUI Galway’s Gearóid De Barra, and local historian Traolach Ó Donnabháin.

To mark the centenary of the vote for women, a seminar in Courtmacsherry Community Centre will consider whether the vote was just a small step on a long journey towards gender equality. The discussion will be chaired by Mary O’Leary, of Barryroe and Courtmacsherry History Group, and the speakers will be former minister Mary O’Rourke, Irish Examiner columnist Victoria White, lecturer Gearóid De Barra, and Sunday Times’ political correspondent Justine McCarthy,

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