Updated: 08/05/18 : 17:27:40
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International storytelling conference held at IT Sligo

IT Sligo was the elected host of the fourth International Irish Narrative Inquiry Conference which welcomed more than 60 guests including scholars, practitioners, and artists who travelled from as far away as Israel.

More than half of the attendees presented on a range of topics around the theme: ‘Narrating Neo Liberalism in an Irish Context’.

All presentations were in line with issues at the forefront of society in 2018 including the impacts of austerity, sexism, racism, disablism, social class and homophobia.

This year’s International Irish Narrative Inquiry Conference was hosted by Institute of Technology, Sligo, on April 19th and 20th and was co-organised and supported by Maynooth University and the National University of Ireland, Galway. Next year’s conference will take place at Trinity College Dublin.

The conference aims to bring together a wide range of Irish and international scholars to showcase recent developments in narrative inquiry. Each year explores a different theme, with 2018’s theme being ‘Narrating Neo Liberalism in an Irish Context’. The 2018 conference had more than 60 guests and 33 presentations.

The conference was convened by IT Sligo’s Dr Jacqueline O’Toole, Dr Anne Byrne from NUIG and Dr Grace O’Grady of Maynooth University. A welcoming speech was given by Dr Brendan McCormack, IT Sligo President.

Dr O’Toole, Lecturer in Social Research,  said the conference challenged the fluidity of storytelling and what is considered ‘fact’ or ‘fiction’.

She said: “This unique gathering of scholars, practitioners, artists and creative inquirers paid attention to the use of narrative inquiry in research. Local, national and global stories and narratives tell of the impacts of austerity; of the historical silence on institutional sexism, racism, disablism, social class and homophobia; of the fluidity of storytelling and what is considered ‘fact’ or ‘fiction’.

“In this context we presented contributions that addressed the ‘social role of stories’: the ways they are produced, the ways they are read, the work they perform in the wider social order, how they change, and their role in the political process.”

Professor Brett Smith, Head of Research in the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Birmingham, was the much-anticipated keynote speaker.

Professor Smith’s keynote was titled ‘Unsettling, fun, and future forming adventures with narrative’, an outlook on the speaker’s own adventures with narrative.


His presentation offered a range of observations which unsettled him – and others – about the direction of certain parts of the narrative turn.

His observations focused on autoethnography, neuroscience and the storytelling brain, narratives as actors, and integrated knowledge translation.