This year's International Celtic Congress is being held at Rosscarbery in County Cork, Ireland, bringing together representatives from each of the Celtic countries, including the Isle of Man.
Centred at the Celtic Ross Hotel, the week-long conference includes excursions, an International Celtic Concert, informal sessions and a ceili night, together with a series of lectures on the theme of 'What is National Freedom?' Phil Gawne MHK will present a paper for the Isle of Man, whilst Annie Kissack will represent Manx music. Further highlights will be a series of films, a workshop dedicated to Irish songs and the International Celtic Congress dinner.
The town of Rosscarbery has a rich heritage, but in recent times has witnessed unprecedented growth, primarily in the holiday accommodation sector, which swells the standard population during the summer months.
Rosscarbery is the location for St Fachtna's, the smallest cathedral in Ireland and the size of a typical parish church; which has parallels with our own St German's Cathedral.
But there's a stronger connection with the name of the town, which is a mutation of the Irish Ros Ó gCairbre which translates into Cairbre's Wood.
According to the Manx scholar J. J. Kneen, the parish of Arbory is dedicated to two saints, St Cairpre of Coleraine and St Columba. This dual dedication persisted, with the parish bearing the name of Cairbre or Cairpre and the parish church Columba, resulting in Kirk Carbery becoming Kirk Arbory.
The first Celtic Congress (under the title of the Pan-Celtic Congress) was held in Abergavenny, Wales, in 1838, and organised only every thirty years or so until the end of the nineteenth century, when meetings were regularised.
However, the first Celtic Congress in its present form convened in 1917 at Birkenhead, on the invitation of the National Union of Welsh Societies, as part of the National Eisteddfod. On this occasion there was a representative from the Celtic Society of Paris, as well as those from the six Celtic nations.
Preparations are well under way for next year's International Celtic Congress which will be held on the Isle of Man.