Fáilte Ireland Honours Conference Ambassadors for Bringing €125million to Irish Economy

Fáilte Ireland Honours Conference Ambassadors for Bringing €125million to Irish Economy

  • Professor Peter McHugh, University of Galway, named Conference Ambassador of the Year for his role in organising ‘11th European Solid Mechanics Conference, 2022’, worth €1.8 million to local economy; 
  • "EUGEO 2019" (Association of Geography Societies in Europe), 2019’ led by Professor Frances Fahy and Dr. Kathy Reilly, hosted at the University of Galway, picks up Sustainability Award;  
  • ‘WONCA World Rural Health Conference, 2022’ wins award for Social Impact & Legacy, led by Professor Liam Glynn, University of Limerick. 

DUBLIN: Fáilte Ireland has celebrated the outstanding contributions of 104 conference ambassadors, including renowned academics and industry leaders, at an award ceremony at the Intercontinental Hotel. 

The ambassadors were acknowledged for their expertise, industry knowledge and unwavering commitment to successfully hosting an international conference in Ireland between 2018 and 2022. Collectively these conferences have contributed €125 million to the Irish economy and have made a positive impact on our nation.  

Fáilte Ireland’s Conference Ambassador Programme was developed to support individuals who want to host an international conference in Ireland. The programme provides assistance and financial support at every stage of the event, from the initial bidding, through to the marketing and promotion of the event. Ambassadors are sector leaders or influencers in their field and since the programme was established in 2009, Fáilte Ireland has supported almost 3,000 ambassadors in their bids to host conferences and events worth more than €2 billion. 

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the ‘Conference Ambassador of the Year’ award which went to Professor Peter McHugh from the University of Galway for his remarkable role in organising the ‘11th European Solid Mechanics Conference 2022’, contributing over €1.8 million to the local economy. 

Two new spotlight awards celebrated excellence in ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Social Impact and Legacy’. The ‘Sustainability’ award went to the "EUGEO 2019" (Association of Geography Societies in Europe), which took place in the University of Galway in 2019, exemplifying its commitment to environmental responsibility. Prof. Frances Fahy and Dr. Kathy Reilly, from the College of Geography and Archaeology at the University of Galway, were responsible for bidding for, and winning the conference for Ireland.   The ‘Social Impact & Legacy’ award was conferred on the ‘WONCA World Rural Health Conference 2022,’ led by Professor Liam Glynn and which took place at the University of Limerick. 

The award ceremony, which was attended by potential and established ambassadors, government officials, and trade stakeholders, also recognised “Regional Champions” for their exceptional dedication to promoting their regions for international conferences.   

 Chief Executive of Fáilte Ireland Paul Kelly said:  

“The Conference Ambassador Recognition Awards showcase the wide range of talent and commitment of our network of conference ambassadors. Their expertise, industry knowledge and unwavering commitment to successfully hosting international conferences in Ireland is nothing short of exceptional. They have created value that extends way beyond the realm of tourism and have exemplified what it truly means to be a conference ambassador. At Fáilte Ireland, we are always looking to recruit new conference ambassadors to help bring future business to Ireland. I hope that those at different stages of their ambassador journey are inspired and motivated by the talented ambassadors recognised at the awards and by hearing their stories of success.”    

Conference ambassadors come from diverse backgrounds and industries and have been instrumental in helping to bring 810 conferences to Ireland between 2018 and 2022, which were attended by 270,000 international delegates across Ireland’s major business hubs - Dublin, Cork, Kerry, The Shannon Region and Galway. These events were worth €443 million to the Irish economy and are often held during off-peak seasons. They have not only augmented hotel and industry supplier revenues but have also contributed to positive social and environmental impacts.   

Each international delegate is valued at more than three times the average leisure tourist, underlining the importance of this sector.   

Conference Ambassador of the Year:  

Professor Peter McHugh of the University of Galway awarded for his exceptional efforts in going above and beyond in his role as a Conference Ambassador, bringing the 11th European Solid Mechanics Conference to Galway in 2022.  

Peter has been bringing groups of researchers in his field of engineering together in Galway for 20 years but in 2022 brought over 1,000 delegates from over 40 countries to Galway for a five-day conference which contributed over €1.8 million to the Irish economy. In addition, the conference had a number initiatives in place aimed at sustainability and inclusion. These initiatives varied from an event app to avoid any paper being printed as well as no gift bags policy for the delegates. To improve gender representation in Engineering and STEM the first ever ESMC Women in STEM Awards was launched at the event, which financially supported 30 female researchers. There was also a student mentorship session where 230 young researchers met a team of 30 senior faculty. Peter displayed exception commitment and passion in bringing the conference to Galway.   

Social Impact & Legacy Award: 

The inaugural Social Impact & Legacy spotlight award recognised a conference that incorporated a social impact initiative into the event planning process, creating a potential legacy that extended far beyond the conference centre. The award on the night went to the WONCA World Rural Health Conference 2022," organised by Professor Liam Glynn from the University of Limerick School of Medicine. The conference, themed "Improving Health, Empowering Communities," served as a global platform for diverse stakeholders in healthcare, promoting positive changes for rural communities worldwide. 

Sustainability Award: 

The second spotlight award was focused on Sustainability and served to recognise an international conference that demonstrated leadership by consciously engaging in responsible consumption in delivering a sustainable event. The "EUGEO 2019" (Association of Geography Societies in Europe) held at the University of Galway in May 2019 was selected as the winner for promoting environmentally responsible events and driving sustainability initiatives organised by Prof Frances Fahy and Dr Kathy Reilly. The conference showcased dedication to environmental, social, and economic sustainability. The commitment was evident in sustainability-themed field trips, integration of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the introduction of a Sustainable Event Policy Checklist now a standard for all UOG events.  Demonstrating a commitment to sustainable practices, initiatives such as the 'PaperSmart' policy, vegetarian catering were implemented.    

Regional Award Winners: 


Ambassador: Barbara Derham 

Conference: International Symposium of Dental Hygienists Dublin 2022 

Barbara is a past president of the Irish Dental Hygienists Association and spearheaded Ireland’s bid to host the European and international dental hygienist meetings in Ireland. She was selected as Dublin’s Regional Champion for her unwavering commitment to bringing the International Symposium of Dental Hygienists to Dublin in 2022, which was an incredible 11-year journey. The conference was supported by Keynote PCO 


Ambassador: Dr. Linda Giblin  

Conference: 7th International Conference on Food Digestion, 2022  

Dr. Linda Giblin showed exceptional dedication in her efforts to bring the 7th International Conference on Food Digestion to Ireland with the support of Abbey Conference and Events. Ever since she has been inspiring others to bring conferences to Ireland.  


Ambassador: Professor Liam Glynn 

Conference: WONCA World Rural Health Conference, 2022  

Professor Liam Glynn is the Professor of General Practice at the University of Limerick School of Medicine. He is also a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland and the Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine. He has been named as Shannon’s Regional Champion this year for his exceptional efforts to create a social impact with the WONCA World Rural Health Conference, 2022.  


Ambassador: Prof Peter McHugh  

Conference: 11th European Solid Mechanics Conference, 2022 

Professor Peter McHugh is CARA 2023's Regional Champion for Galway. He led the bid to host the ‘11th European Solid Mechanics Conference 2022’ in Ireland, which was the largest ever academic conference to be hosted in Galway.  Abbey Conference and Events were the supporting PCO for the event. 


Ambassador: Elizabeth Nolan  

Conference: 30th Annual Barbershop Convention, 2019  

Elizabeth Nolan has been bringing the Annual Barbershop Convention to Ireland and in the past 10 years has brough the convention to our shores an impressive 8 times! Most recently she brought the Barbershops to Kerry in 2023 and combined she has contributed over €5m to the economy.   

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