varied discussion of the world and our discipline’s response to the ever-shifting social and
physical landscapes. Through the efforts of session organisers, this aim was not only meet
but exceeded with a broad range of papers and sessions address topics from across the
discipline and beyond. Several prominent strands ran through the conference illustrating
how Irish geographers and others are meeting contemporary social, political, and economic
challenges and opportunities.
Urban policies and the impact of the austerity of recent years were examined across several
sessions highlighting the on-going contestations of housing, urban governance, and the
spatial manifestations of neoliberal agendas. Physical geography sessions incorporated
discussions of climate change, upland environments, and coastal geomorphology, as well as
developments in Earth Observation. Also, the energy and food systems sessions provided
deep insights into the meeting of the social and natural, and how we are to address
challenges into the future. Art and geography made another distinct contribution to the
conference with practitioners, artists, and researchers sharing their work and providing a
creative insight into social issues, including Ireland’s asylum process, the treatment of AIDS
patients, and climate change. In addition, a range of other single sessions encapsulated a
significant breath of research from legal geographies to rewilding, and rural revitalisation to
health and nature.
The first keynote lecture, from Dr Bradley Garrett, University of Sydney, on the ‘Countering
Geographies of Dread’ was a resonant contribution provoking critical engagements with
issues of the privatised, public space, persistent surveillance systems, and spatial
inequalities. Situating his paper with a concern for neoliberal practices, he outlined his
theme of the ‘Geographies of Dread’ as a response to and engagement with a range of
interconnect threads which simultaneously erode privacy and the public. Professor Jenny
Pickerill, Sheffield University, gave the second keynote focusing on eco-communities and
the reconfiguration of place. Her participative approach to these self-build, self-organised
and collective enterprises illustrated how they involve new forms of nature-culture relations
and new social relations. These grassroot, ecologically and ideologically-driven projects
transform farmland to permaculture gardens, off-grid homes and learning spaces, which
present different forms of environmental futures.
The conference programme incorporated other events including a drone workshop and
meetings for the Postgraduate Network and Supporting Women in Geography (SWIG). In
addition, SWIG held an insightful panel discussion which raised numerous issues of
relevance to all working in research and university settings. The GSI Doctoral Research
Award session involved five recent PhD graduates presenting on their work in a ten minute
slot, with Dr Paul Alexander being presented as the winner at the conference dinner.
The 49th Conference of Irish Geographers was a very successful event, building on the
strengths of previous conferences and working closely with the GSI. Special thanks goes to
Dr Colin Sage, Conference Chair, and the academic and support staff in the Department of
Geography UCC for their role in the conference.