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.]