Donie O’Sullivan to speak at Valentia Lecture on theme of globalisation

30 Sep 2021

Valentia Island. Image: Pedroserafin/Wikimedia Commons

EU commissioner Mairead McGuinness and the Canadian ambassador to Ireland will also attend the fifth annual event in Kerry.

The Valentia Transatlantic Cable Foundation will host its fifth annual Valentia Lecture tomorrow (1 October), focusing on the theme of globalisation and the interconnected world.

Founded in 2016, the organisation seeks to secure the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site for the Valentia Island telegraph station in Kerry.

Valentia Island was the European end of the world’s first transatlantic cable. This historic development entered operation in 1858 but failed after three weeks. Another cable was successfully laid in 1866, connecting Valentia with the town of Heart’s Content in Newfoundland, Canada.

Guests for the 2021 event include Irish EU commissioner Mairead McGuinness. CNN correspondent Donie O’Sullivan, who is originally from Kerry, will participate in a fireside chat with Katie Hannon of RTÉ.

There will also be a panel discussion entitled ‘Globalisation in a post-Covid world’ chaired by Prof Maggie Cusack, president of Munster Technological University.

The event will feature a ‘link-up’ with Heart’s Content in Canada. This will see Irish Minister for Education Norma Foley, TD, and Newfoundland tourism and culture minister Steve Crocker speak on the theme of regional development.

Following this, IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan will chair a discussion featuring entrepreneurs from both sides of the Atlantic.

Leonard Hobbs, chair of the Valentia Transatlantic Cable Foundation, commented: “We are continuing our efforts to pursue World Heritage status for the transatlantic cable ensemble at Valentia in partnership with Kerry County Council and the community at Valentia.

“Significant progress in the last year has included the establishment of a broadband connection point at the cable station [and] the submission of our formal application to the Department of Heritage for our inclusion on the Irish tentative list for UNESCO”.

Newly-appointed Canadian ambassador to Ireland, Nancy Smyth, will participate in the panel discussion at the event. Smyth said she was delighted to be attending, and hoped the “two remote Atlantic communities” of Valentia and Heart’s Content would “continue to celebrate their common heritage”.

The event begins at 2pm tomorrow and will be livestreamed on the foundation’s website.

Silicon Republic CEO Ann O’Dea spoke at the fourth Valentia Lecture last year.

Valentia Island. Photo by Pedroserafin/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.5)

Updated, 8.30am, 5 October 2021: This article was updated to clarify details about the early transatlantic cables.

Jack Kennedy is a freelance journalist based in Dublin