Reading Association Of Ireland 36th Annual Conference

Uachtarán na hÉireann, Professor Michael Daniel Higgins & Dr. Karen Willoughby, (President of RAI.)

The Reading Association of Ireland (RAI) began their 36th Annual Conference at the Marino Institute of Education in Dublin Last night, with the theme of this year’s gathering, ‘From Literacy Research to Classroom Practice: Insights and Inspiration.’

The conference will continue until September 29th, 2012, with keynote speakers which will include :- Professor Frank Serafini, latter an Author, Illustrator, Musician, Educational Consultant & Photographer & Dr Áine Cregan, former Fullbright Scholar from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Consultant to the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) & a member of the National Economic and Social Forum (NESF) committee.

Dr. Anne O’Gara, President of the Marino Institute of Education warmly welcomed the very large crowd of delegates which attended and which included the President of Ireland, Professor Michael D. Higgins, as their honoured guest.

Amongst those representing Thurles & Co Tipperary at this three day conference are Dr. Karen Willoughby, Thurles (President of the Reading Association of Ireland (RAI) ), Dr. Mary Roche, Thurles (St. Patrick’s College,),  Mr John Hogan, Moyne (North Tipperary Co. Councillor), Teachers Miss Angela Butler, & Mr Frank Tuohy, both from Holycross, Thurles, Student Teachers, Mr Gary Butler, Thurles, (St. Patrick’s College) & Miss Rachel Willoughby, Thurles, (IADT Dun Laoghaire).

Officially opening the conference on behalf of the RAI committee, Thurles born Dr Karen Willoughby stated: “On behalf of Reading Association of Ireland, its committee and members, I would like to thank Dr. O’Gara and the staff and community at the Marino Institute of Education for their help and support in hosting this year’s conference.”

Dr. Willoughby then called on the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, to deliver his opening address.

In his opening address President Higgins praised the significance of the Reading Association of Ireland’s volunteer work, noting that literacy experiences and education, which moves beyond the functional, was vital and played a pivotal role in ensuring the inclusion of all members of our society.

Later, responding to President Higgins, Dr. Willoughby stated: “On behalf of Reading Association of Ireland, its committee and members, I wish to thank President Higgins for accepting our invitation to join us here this evening and for delivering an opening address that wonderfully reflects this year’s conference theme. Thank you also Mr President, for acknowledging the centrality of literacy & for acknowledging the pivotal role that teaching and research excellence, in the field of literacy in Ireland and internationally, plays and must continue to play. Discovery, dissemination and implementation of these factors are vital in the cultivation of environments that enable all children, young people and members of our society, to develop a love of literature and to realise their potential in literacy.

Dr. Willoughby went on to explain the great work carried on by the organisation, “The Reading Association of Ireland was founded in 1975 and since then through its successive committees and with the support of its members, has continued to evolve. Its current project involvement includes; The RAI Book Awards; The RAI award for outstanding Thesis on Literacy supporting teacher research and school development through the Literacy Development Awards for schools; Numerous publications including its journal, Reading News;  Its Website; It’s advocating to further shape national policy on reading, language and literacy; Regional seminars and workshops; Collaborating with its international affiliates namely IDEC, FELA and the International Reading Association; Maintaining links with numerous national organisations; and I know we have delegates from many of these same organisation here with us tonight. I thank you for your presence here and your support.

What is truly remarkable about this work, and I thank President Higgins for acknowledging this in his opening address, is that all of this work is undertaken by the Reading Association of Ireland Executive Committee Members on a voluntary basis. This conference alone represents the culmination of hours of sacrificed personal time at evenings and weekends. I would ask President Higgins and everyone here to tonight to join me in delivering a much deserved round of applause for their incredible work.”

In concluding her address, Dr. Willoughby again thanked President Higgins for joining them, thus lending his valued support to the RAI Committee and herself, in helping them to raise awareness of and celebrating teaching and research excellence in the field of reading, language and literacy here in Ireland and internationally.

On behalf of the Reading Association of Ireland Committee, Dr. Willoughby made a small presentation, a lapel pin containing the RAI emblem, cast in a silver and gold to President Higgins, together with a copy of the Proceedings of  RAI’s 2010 and 2011 conferences.

President Higgins, much to the delight of all, remained at the event longer than was expected, engaging in conversation with many of those in attendance.


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