Trinity Long Room Hub celebrates 10 years as flagship research institute
Posted on: 20 February 2020
On Wednesday February 19th, the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute celebrated the 10th anniversary of its opening by highlighting the contribution of the Arts and Humanities to public debates in Ireland and internationally over the past ten years.
The Hub opened its doors in 2010. A decade on, it boasts a successful public engagement programme and research projects which have brought different disciplines across Trinity together with enterprise. It also provides ongoing support for Trinity’s Arts and Humanities academic and research staff as well as early career researchers.
As part of its anniversary programme, a day-long symposium was held in the Trinity Long Room Hub on February 19th exploring current threats to democracy from climate change to populism; the future of the island of Ireland and its plural identities; the challenges facing humans through automation; and how artists can help engineers.
Panels including Trinity academics and Philip King of Other Voices, Domhnaill Hernon of Nokia Bell Labs, Conor Houston of Connected Citizens, and Bill Emmott, former editor of The Economist, all made insightful contributions to debates with the audience.
Cameo appearances throughout the day included current Trinity Long Room Hub artist in residence, Rita Duffy. She explained how art has led her, as a Belfast native, to diffuse emotive debates around Northern Ireland and its borders through her humorous take on everyday objects, including ‘Brexit biscuits,’ ‘Free-state Jam’, and the ‘unite-Ireland sewing kit’.
She highlighted the Raft Project, which is currently on display at the Trinity Long Room Hub as part of its 10th anniversary celebrations. Unveiled on the eve of Brexit, it depicts the chaos surrounding the British decision to leave the European Union.
Professor Nicholas Johnson of Trinity’s Samuel Beckett Centre and the School of Creative Arts gave attendees a snapshot of the fascinating work he and his colleague Neill O’Dwyer have been doing in bringing Samuel Beckett’s Play to virtual reality through Trinity’s V-SENSE initiative.
Trinity Long Room Hub research fellows Dr Elsbeth Payne and Dr Angela Butler described the exciting work ongoing in the Hub as part of the Crises of Democracy project in collaboration with international partners from South Africa to Zagreb.
Former provost of Trinity, John Hegarty, was part of a further panel discussion looking at the vision behind the institute – ‘From a PowerPoint Proposal to an Iconic Building.’ Together with architect Valerie Mulvin, Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, director of the Trinity Long Room Hub, and Dr Jennifer Edmond, founding executive director, he discussed the remarkable ambition which started long before the Trinity Long Room Hub opened its doors.
Moving to the Edmund Burke Theatre in the Arts Building, an evening celebratory showcase attracted 400 guests and friends of the Hub as well as members of the public to hear conversations from Rory O’Neill, also known by his stage name Panti Bliss, and Professor Padraic Whyte; Professor Roy Foster; archivist Catriona Crowe; Professor Peter Crooks of Trinity’s Beyond 2022 project; and librarian Helen Shenton.
Performances by the Mornington Singers conducted by Dr Orla Flanagan, School of Creative Arts, showcased a new work composed as part of a Rough Magic project on choirs and well-being. The Rough Magic team were recently artists in residence in the Trinity Long Room Hub in partnership with Trinity’s Institute of Neuroscience.
Current and former early career researchers at the Trinity Long Room Hub were an integral part of the evening showcase, with Dr Sean Hewitt and Emer Emily Neenan highlighting the power of poetry to enlighten and entertain, and the diversity of research taking place by early stage researchers across the university.
Author and Trinity alumnus Mark O’Connell spoke about transhumanism and ethics with Professor of Ecumenics Linda Hogan, while host for the evening, RTÉ presenter Bryan Dobson announced the new Rooney Writer Fellowship in the Trinity Long Room Hub, generously funded by Peter Rooney and John Curran. In 2019 Mark O’Connell, who was a former early career researcher at the Hub, received the prestigious Rooney Prize for Irish Literature.
Trinity Provost Dr Patrick Prendergast congratulated the Hub for providing a public forum “for debate and dialogue” on many of the issues that have faced the world over the past 10 years.
Yours is a tremendous achievement which the whole university…and Dublin and Ireland, benefits from.
Director of the Trinity Long Room Hub, Jane Ohlmeyer said:
The Hub is one of the flagship projects of Inspiring Generations, Trinity’s first public philanthropic campaign, launched in May 2019 – we hope to secure support for the Hub’s next stage of development and realise its potential to becoming one of the top 10 Arts and Humanities Research Institutes in the world.