James Shields Receives Irish Conference Ambassador Award

James Sheilds

James Shields

By James Bacon: For a number of years now, the Dublin Convention Bureau and Fáilte Ireland the National Tourism Development Authority have been encouraging the ‘Conference Ambassador’ scheme, which helps support and encourage individuals and organisations to bring international conferences and conventions to Ireland.

To recognise the efforts of people who give up their own time to organise international events, Fáilte have set up the Conference Ambassador awards, and plan to hold them every two years going forward.

Shamrokon, Co-Chair James Shields was invited to the inaugural award ceremony on the 21st of January at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin. Shields came up with the idea of a Eurocon the weekend after a potential UK Worldcon while on his GUFF trip to New Zealand and Australia in 2010. He was in the vanguard of efforts to win the Eurocon bid for Dublin and was subsequently joined by Brian Nisbet who co-chaired the convention.


He informs us:

Irish television celebrity, comedian and student of theoretical physics Dara O’Briain came on stage and gave an introduction, and spoke a little about the awards and the kinds of people who were present. He singled out a woman who happened to be sitting next me, called Karen O’Sullivan, who had held the European ice skating conference in Dublin, and is hoping to hold the European Championships, and Dublin doesn’t even have a proper ice rink!

I didn’t expect to be receiving an award. Admittedly they weren’t “best in” style awards, and there were about 40 given out on the night, but it was still really wonderful to receive such recognition and It was especially nice to be there with my partner Fionna O’Sullivan and I was really proud to be there with her.

The Irish government have always been keen to promote tourism in all its forms and see the efforts to welcome conventions as an important aspect. The Dublin 2019 World Science Fiction bid is also supported by Fáilte and I was pleased to wear my Dublin 2019 badge on the night

[Photos by Fionna O’Sullivan and James Shields.] 

Shamrokon Miscellany

Shamrokon, the 36th Eurocon, came to an end today in Dublin, the ”city that helped Bram Stoker work out how to describe what a vampire’s skin would look like”.

GUFF delegate and Tim Tam smuggler Gillian Pollak said the candy was key to the success of the Shamrokon auction which raised “an extra 555 euros.”

Legendary Irish fanzine fan Thomas Ferguson handed out copies of Götterdämmerung Redux, the best writing from 11 issues of the Belfast SF fandom fanzine.

And throughout the weekend some of the bids campaigning at Shamrokon have been drawn into the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I’m not going to make an exhaustive list, but in my favorite two fans get the works — Helsinki in 2017 bidder Eemeli Aro is doused by a one-boy bucket brigade then, on the other side of the world, Adam Beaton gets deluged before calmly replacing his trademark red porkpie hat on his soggy head.

Shamrokon Starts Tomorrow

Shamrokon, this year’s Eurocon, begins August 22 in Dublin.

Going into the weekend, Shamrokon had 1,038 members from 34 countries – with the U.S. holding a very thin lead as the country with the most members, one that Ireland presumably will overtake after the doors open.

Shamrokon offers a full schedule of panel programming and an international slate of guests, including two people involved with Game of Thrones, actor Miltos Yerolemou (sword master Syrio Forel) and Emma Andrews (who does production work on drapes, banners, tents and all kinds of things).

Shamrokon also will host the Golden Blasters, the Annual Irish Genre Short Film Festival (that usually takes place at Octocon), and the European Science Fiction Society Awards ceremony.

The con committee has thought about how it will approach Diversity Issues as part of the program and made this decision —

Fandom is wonderfully diverse both in how humanity is portrayed in genre and the people who love it. We have made the decision to not separate out panels to focus on diversity issues, as we feel these issues are part of the general discourse and should be just part of the discussions.

And I am intrigued by its direction to program moderators —

Also we’d ask that Moderators please when selecting people to speak from the floor they describe what the person is wearing and where they are sitting, when calling on them to speak with out using gender as a descriptor as this can be problematic.

While I haven’t been trying to overcome that particular problem, I think my own practice as a panel moderator works, too: to use the person’s name if I know it, and otherwise, make eye contact, point at who I’m recognizing, and include the word “you” as I call on [him/her/whoever].