Following the remarkable success of the first Global Irish Diaspora Congress (GID), held at University College Dublin in August 2017, we are delighted to confirm that the second GID congress will be held at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (https://www.ukzn.ac.za) in Durban, South Africa. The dates of the congress will be Wednesday 1 to Friday 3 July 2020 with an optional field tour on Saturday 4 July.

The congress will be held on the Howard College (Durban) campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, one of Africa’s top research and most progressive universities with five campuses and a student population of 44,000. The university was formed in 2003 with the amalgamation of the former University of Durban-Westville and the University of Natal.

Conference fees (excluding accommodation) will be early bird (until 17 March 2020) €210, and a special fee for delegates from Africa of R1,600 early bird. After 17 March 2020, fees will be €260 and R2,000 respectively. The Congress dinner and battlefield fieldtrip will be extra, the cost to be determined depending on sponsorship raised. Details for payment will follow. Delegates will be accommodated in beach-front hotels with details provided on the conference website.

This second Global Irish Diaspora congress will be open to anyone interested in the Irish diaspora in its many facets. Papers will cater for the academic, the professional and the amateur, the expert and the curious. We also expect that at least one international exhibition will be hosted by the Embassy of Ireland in Pretoria at the event.

This unique occasion is something very special – the largest Irish event to be held on African soil. While Congress papers will cover the global diaspora in their content, we hope that the Irish link with Africa and Africa’s with Ireland will be showcased as never before. A wide and diverse interest has already been part of the Global Irish Diaspora Congress and we, the international committee are working to make this a memorable and significant milestone in the relationship between Ireland and Africa.

The second Global Irish Diaspora Congress will be based on the successful model of the inaugural GIDC, which featured a wide range of papers on such diverse subjects relating to the global Irish diaspora as history, archaeology, art, cultural studies, genealogy and language. Topics are selected so they related to the millions of Irish people from all sectors of society who left Ireland to settle elsewhere in the world, whether in Africa, Australia, Canada, Great Britain, India, Pacific islands, South America, the United States or elsewhere. A call for papers will be circulated in the last week of August 2019.

The congress will be held under the auspices of the GID International Advisory Committee of experts, (current president Professor Regina Uí Chollatáin, School of Irish Celtic Studies and Folklore, University College Dublin). The 2020 Congress organisation is primarily under the aegis of a local Durban committee, which is based at the Centre for Communications, Media and Society in the College of Humanities. This is composed of academics as well as members of the Irish South African Association (Durban Branch). This local committee is chaired by Professor Donal McCracken.

Depending upon demand, we hope to offer specialist tours to Irish sites associated with the KwaZulu-Natal battlefields (Talana Hill, Isandlwana, Rorke’s Drift, Colenso and Spion Kop on 4 July 2020) and locally to ‘Green Durban’ and to the Denis Hurley Centre. Links between Durban and Ireland are many and include the Belfast look-a-like city hall, the great harbour of Port Natal where the Harland and Wolff Union Castle liners terminated their voyages, Glasnevin and the Durban Botanic Gardens (the oldest surviving botanic gardens in Africa), and the Irish 27 th Regiment which annexed the old Boer republic of Natalia.

And finally, getting there! Durban, in the kingdom of the Zulus, is South Africa’s premier holiday destination and has famous sandy beaches, lots of restaurants, a vibrant culture and diverse population. The city’s King Shaka International Airport has direct flights to London Heathrow and to Dubai, which has easy connections with Dublin, London Stansted, the United States, Australia and many other destinations. July is mid-winter in South Africa and the dry season in KwaZulu-Natal. Daytime temperatures average 24°. In July evenings are very short. The Indian Ocean has the warm Agulhas current off shore with daytime sea temperatures about 23°. Snow and ice are unknown in Durban!

We look forward to greeting you in Durban!

Regina Uí Chollatáin
President, Global Irish Diaspora Congress