Almost 40 participants joined us for the Journal Launch in Cork City Hall. The event was opened by Cork Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Joe Kavanagh, AONTAS CEO Niamh O’Reilly, Coordinator of Cork Learning City Denis Barrett and Journal Editor Rosemary Moreland. All of the speakers welcomed guests to the event and Cllr Kavanagh spoke about the: “critical importance of valuing adult education in today’s society.” Niamh O’Reilly emphasised the significance of holding the launch in Cork, where the organisation started out in the late 1960s:
Denis Barrett spoke about the work of Cork Learning City, a UNESCO award-winning initiative that promotes and celebrates learning opportunities for people of all ages, interests and abilities, and highlighted the strong collaboration between this initiative and AONTAS over the past number of years. He commented that the occasion was: “an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the connections with Cork since its foundation, and our shared commitment to maximise the Lifelong Learning opportunities for all our citizens.”
Welcomes were followed by an engaging panel discussion with former and current members of the Journal’s Editorial Board: current editor Rosemary Moreland (Ulster University), Nuala Glanton (Cork ETB), Luke Murtagh (Former CEO, Tipperary VEC), Maria Slowey (DCU) and Stephen O’Brien (UCC). The panellists reflected on the history of the Journal and key developments in adult learning in Ireland over the past 50 years. Maria Slowey, whose longstanding involvement with the Journal has been crucial to its development, commented on the pervasive values that have remained throughout the Journal’s history, including a strong emphasis on the need to widen access to education. Luke Murtagh highlighted the importance of the discursive space the Journal provides for adult learning practitioners and academics, commenting:
“These articles are written by people with huge experience in the field of adult and community education and their voices need to be heard.”
Authors then shared what inspired them to write their articles and gave short summaries of the contents. Among these was Barry Golding via video input from Australia, who co-authored a specially commissioned article with Jack Harvey for the Journal: 50 Years of AONTAS: Developments in the Field of Adult Education in Ireland as Reflected in the Contents of The Adult Learner and its Antecedent Journals. In his outline of the research, he commented that the Journal: “is a reflection of the changes in Irish society over the 50 years and in the increasingly internationalised, interconnected field of adult education.”
Other contributors shared fascinating insights into their articles which covered topics including the National Further Education and Training (FET) Learner Forum (Leah Dowdall and Edel Sheerin, AONTAS), access in university adult education (Rosemary Moreland), teaching training around Autism for early childhood educators (Fiona Ferris, AsIAm) and the pedagogy of Paolo Freire in the context of Existentialism (Alex McKillican).
AONTAS would like to extend a warm thank you to Denis Barrett (Cork Learning City) and Siubhán McCarthy (Cork Lifelong Learning Festival) for co-hosting such an engaging and enjoyable event, and to all who attended and participated.