President of Ireland Michael D Higgins has appeared alongside international politicians, academics and writers at a virtual conference broadcast from Ulster University’s Magee Campus.

The ‘Heritage, Healing and Home’ discussion took place earlier this month at the American Conference for Irish Studies 2021, which also featured contributions from US Congressman Brendan Boyle the UK and Irish Ambassadors to the US, filmmaker Maurice Fitzpatrick and local journalist Susan McKay.

Professor Malachy Ó Néill, Irish language scholar and Provost of the Ulster University Magee campus said: “Ulster University is delighted to host the ACIS 2021 conference and to welcome academics from 110 different institutions across the world to this global conversation. In partnership with Derry and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council’s Colmcille 1500 initiative, this event is the academic highlight of the year-long commemoration of Colm Cille (Saint Columba), patron of the city of Derry and the wider North West and one of the most significant figures in early European Christianity. The overarching conference themes of ‘Heritage, Healing and Home’ act as a pathway for these times. Time for reflection, sense-making and collective restoration and healing is needed more than ever as we emerge from our homes after the challenging period during COVID-19.

City and region leaders got behind the international conference. Sportswear brand O’Neills designed a commemorative jersey featuring a beautiful digital artwork of Magee College by Carla Fulton, artist and recent Ulster University. Gavin Killeen and colleagues at NuPrint Technologies produced conference postcards to complement the O’Neills jerseys. Also, Visit Derry worked with Ulster University to bring this multi-faceted event online for the people of Derry.

A series of Fireside Conversations and speeches are still available to watch online.

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