Speakers 2014


Keynote Speaker

Declan Coyle is a director of Andec, author of the Green Platform,  and one of Ireland’s most internationally experienced leadership training and development consultants. He is also much sought after as a conference keynote speaker.

Declan is a member of the Irish Institute of Training & Development. He holds two masters degrees from Ottawa and St Paul’s Universities, in Canada, a Certificate in Training and Continuing Education from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, is a Master Practitioner in NLP and a certified Enneagram teacher. He writes a weekly motivational column for Fit Magazine that is published with the Independent Newspaper.

A former Columban missionary for 27 years, Declan is married with three children and lives in Bray, Co. Wicklow.


Other Speakers:


Paul Beddy is the  owner and manager of a Clothing manufacturing company employing 65 people. He has three children who have completed their education and two currently at 2nd level.

Paul has worked in a voluntary capacity representing the interests of Parents both regionally and nationally for the past 15 years. He is one of 24 parent representative Directors on the National Parent Council  – Post Primary (NPCpp) and  Head of Policy Development Committee. He is a founder and currently Secretary to the Post Primary Education Forum (PPEF), which he established under the aegis of NPCpp.

The Post-Primary Education Forum (PPEF) is an umbrella group comprising representation from parents, trade unions, school leaders and management bodies involved in the post-primary education sector in Ireland. Founded in November 2007, the PPEF seeks to address common issues and establish a shared viewpoint on priorities for the future development of second level education.  The vision of the Forum reflects the distinct flavour and authenticity of a practitioner perspective.

Paul has represented Parents at both Parent Association and Board of Management level in both Fee and no-Fee paying secondary schools.



Trained in history at Trinity College Dublin and Pembroke College Cambridge, Dermot Dix is Headmaster, history teacher and hockey coach at Headfort School in Kells, County Meath. Headfort is a boarding and day prep school for children aged between 7 and 13, with a Montessori division catering to younger children from age 3 to 7.

Dermot’s published academic research is focused on British imperial ideology in the 18th and 19th centuries, with particular reference to India, Ireland and America. Before joining Headfort he taught for 16 years in New York City, latterly at the Dalton School in Manhattan. Between 1994 and 2002 he ran his own summer school named An Irish Sojourn, which introduced mainly American visitors to Ireland’s history, literature, landscape, music and culture.



Dr. Philomena Donnelly is retired Director of the Graduate Diploma in Education (Primary Teaching) in St. Patrick’s College, Dublin City University. She worked as a teacher in primary schools before joining the staff of St. Patrick’s College in 1998. Philomena is a specialist in early childhood education and in philosophy with children.  She is co-founder of the Ethics and Education course in St. Patrick’s College, the first of its kind in the country. Philomena introduced philosophy into Irish primary schools in 1989 and has been an advocate for such practice since. She has substantial experience in the area. Her Ph.D. thesis is entitled Young Children’s Philosophical Thinking and Ancient Proto-Philosophy: A Study. She has published both nationally and internationally on philosophy in primary school and on other aspects of education.


Carmel and her husband educated their 10 children at home. Between them, up to Leaving Certificate level, they have 9 years of school education, instead of 130 years if they had gone to school.

Since they started out in 1979 when their first child was born, they have learned a huge amount fromm their children, and the process of educating them.

Carmel says: ‘The theme of this session – Everything’s an Educator – is very appropriate to our family, as one of my deep beliefs is that a great deal of education should be part of living, not extracted from it and taught/learned in a place set aside from ordinary life. This was how we raised our children. Later on, some of them pursued specific specialist education. So our daily life was the educational setting, living on a smallholding, growing food, keeping animals, cooking, raising children, having fun.’


Marie is a graduate of NUI Maynooth and St Patrick’s College of Education Drumcondra. She has been a primary school teacher since 1980 working both as a mainstream class teacher and in learning support. She has been an early advocate of the thinking time approach and has utilised it in the classroom since 1990. Thinking Time has been adopted as part of the English oral language curriculum in St Kilians NS where Marie teaches, and was highlighted for praise in a whole school evaluation. Marie has delivered courses on Thinking Time in the Education Centre in Navan and the Teacher’s Centre in Cavan and  she was recently interviewed about philosophy in the classroom for a feature in the Irish Times.

Joan KeatingJOAN KEATING  NQAI Level 8 

A graduate of Mary Immaculate College of Education Limerick, and St. Patrick’s College of Education Dublin, Joan Keating designs and delivers continuing professional development programmes for those involved in the primary education sector. A former primary school teacher, Joan has worked as designer and facilitator of teacher education and professional development courses with the National Induction Programme for Teachers, the Association of Teacher Education Centres in Ireland, the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, and the Primary Curriculum Support Programme. In addition, she has recently trained in advanced listening skills and is co-author of ‘Self Assessment and Learning Folders- Primary School- Guidelines for Teachers’ 2011.

John Lawlor Web


John Lawlor worked as an ICT professional with over 30 years experience in the telecommunications sector in Ireland and Africa. John is a graduate of UCD in Computer Science (1991) and completed his MSc in IT and Education in Trinity College in 2007.

He was founding Programme Director for the award winning Bridge to College/Bridge21 programme at Trinity College Dublin. Bridge21 presents a new model for learning built on collaborative working and technology and is heavily influenced by the learning method of the World Scout Movement relying on the development of responsibility and leadership in young people.

In March 2012 John became Chief Executive Officer of Scouting Ireland. John has a lifelong commitment to Scouting and young people and has contributed to programme development and innovation at local and national level. He believes that models of learning developed in the non-formal sector and particularly in Scouting could have powerful efficacy if applied in more formal learning contexts. John’s research interest is in the field of team based, technology mediated learning models and he is pursuing a PhD on a part-time basis at TCD.


Aidan Walsh is an experienced and long-established specialist in the cultural sector and an independent consultant, working throughout Ireland and the UK.

He established this consultancy in 2001 after many years as Director of the Northern Ireland Museums Council. From 1974 to 1989 he worked as the first Curator of the pioneering Monaghan County Museum in the Republic of Ireland.

His experience and knowledge ranges through the regional, national and international arenas and across a wide spectrum of issues and functions.

He combines an in-depth and career-long working knowledge of cultural management and offers skills and experience in

He has worked for the museum, library and arts domains within the cultural sector and sat on many cultural boards and committees. He is thoroughly familiar with organisational working culture in both the professional and voluntary areas.

In 1998 he was conferred FMA (Fellow of the UK Museums Association).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s