Eamonn T. Gardiner, Lead Organiser of the Irish History Students Association.
Sounds fancy right? Well in truth, its a lot of work, but isn’t massively interfering with college or non-college (I’ve resigned myself to not having much of an extra-course life at this stage). But as an (aspiring) academic, I can see the need to have planned one of these for my career prospects!
But I will say this; don’t ever volunteer for something when you’re mad as hell! Bad timing in extremis! When you decide to run with the bulls, you should be aware of the possibility of finding out what those pointy things on their heads are really for!
SO the conference is taking place in February 2016, but myself and the committee have been hard at work since March 2015. I know what you’re going to say, that its not that big a deal. Its only three days. there doesn’t need to be this level of detail involved in matters. But I beg to differ. Perhaps its merely the way I approach these things, with minute planning and redundancy, but I feel more comfortable when I do something, if I know I have redundancy and contingencies built in as standard.
It’s probably driving my colleagues on the committee bonkers though!
That’s partly the reason why the aul’ blog has taken a nosedive off the edge of the cliff in recent times. I’m writing another one at IHSA 2016, note the subtle plug. Subtle like a brick to the puss. That’s how I’ve started rolling these days. So perhaps taking on the conference in final year of the PhD wasn’t the smartest idea, but see the above point about anger and not doing important things…
It is however all in hand, reams of paperwork notwithstanding! And there are reams! Thankfully we’re managing to keep most of it as e-paper and just word docs we fire over and back across cyberspace. The ‘i’s’ are being dotted and the ‘t’s’ are being crossed and its slowly coming together for us. we’re slowly getting sponsors and we’re definitely gaining momentum; its hard to describe, its kind of like a restless giant, stirring from its slumber. You know you’re going to get critical mass at some point soon, you’re just not entirely sure when! I never thought that a cup of (lets face it, pretty crappy catering) coffee would cost so much. To say that its extortion, is to do Don Falcone a disservice!
I suppose I’ve never been involved in a conference before to this extent. Yes I’ve given a lot of papers, and yes I’ve chaired a few rooms and have been at a few run by friends. But its only when you get stuck into it, when you take full responsibility for the financing and the planning of one, that’s when you realise all the little things which you take for granted, like rooms being opened and WiFi and projectors…SOMEONE has to make sure those things are ready for you. Its like taking the step from being a child to an adult. You know the basics, its just the implementation that’s key.
Our Call for Papers goes live today and I will freely admit, its kind of an emotional time. It’s gone through more than a few hours discussion and well over half a dozen drafts and major edits. It has ideas and concepts that are revolutionary for this conference’s history and hopefully they’ll bring us into the twenty-first century! The irony of a history conference looking to the future, to maintain its place in contemporary culture, is not for a second lost on me! But as my train speeds to Galway and as I look across the greying dawn-lit landscape, I am moved by this thought. This, this now, this is history being made. And both I (benevolent dictator) and the committee (banana republic) are part of that change.
And to paraphrase Robert Frost, ‘and that has made all the difference.