23RD - 26TH OCTOBER, 2020

‘40th Annual MacGill School


Welcome to the MacGill School

From observing the twists and turns of the COVID-19 virus pandemic and, in particular, its onslaught on the health and socio/economic life of not only our own country but of peoples everywhere on the planet it is obvious that the MacGill School cannot take place in its usual format and in its venue of the past 40 years in Glenties, Co. Donegal.

However, in the belief that the MacGill School should try, if at all possible, to continue to provide a forum for analysis and reflection in these extraordinary times and to do this using the new and evolving communications technology that has also become an integral part of all our lives, we have decided that the MacGill School will take place in a new digital format from October 23rd to 26th.

It is difficult, even at this stage, to guess in what state we will find ourselves in the autumn but we will already have lived through one of the most dramatic and destructive periods in recent memory which will have left deep scars on every part of the globe. We will certainly have a more complete picture of the key challenges facing us as we try and recover from the ravages of COVID-19 and grapple with the effects of this global pandemic, the long term consequences of which may persist for some considerable time to come.

With authoritative and eminently qualified contributors, national and international, the 40th MacGill School will examine what progress has been made in the struggle against the virus and how people everywhere will live under the shadow of this constant threat, how the new Irish government will lead the mammoth task of rebuilding a shattered economy whilst at the same time meeting its urgent obligations to reduce our high levels of carbon emissions and providing public services to a high standard for a growing population, the role of the European Union in restoring morale and prosperity in Europe whilst shaping the future of the planet, the huge significance for the whole world of the upcoming U.S. Presidential Election in early November and how mankind learns the lessons from life under COVID-19 to go on to build a better and fairer society and a world based on justice, equality and sustainability.

MacGill School will keep its links with Donegal by including snapshots of the county’s rich cultural life which, as in other parts of Ireland, has helped to sustain people throughout this crisis in very difficult circumstances.

More detailed information will be provided at regular intervals in the months ahead both on our website and through our social media channels.

Joe Mulholland, Director

Vince Mc Carthy, Asst Director


In this era of immense promise and great danger, in the battle between enlightenment and a return to darker ages when forces might be unleashed that could destroy our democratic institutions and our hard won freedoms of expression the mission of MacGill is:

To provide a forum for well-informed discussion about the burning issues of our time, involving face-to-face engagement between experts and people holding responsible positions in  society, with the ultimate purpose of achieving sustainable social, economic and environmental progress in a challenging, turbulent and uncertain world.

General Information

Find places to eat, beaches to visit, golf courses and other places of interest around Glenties….

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About Patrick MacGill

Patrick MacGill became known as the ‘Navvy Poet’ when a slim little volume of poetry which he had mostly written when working on the railways in Scotland and which he called ‘Gleanings from a Navvy’s Scrapbook’ came to the notice…

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Cultural Events

The School has profiled artists, musicians and writers from a wide range of disciplines. See what’s on this year…

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History & Achievements

The school has grown from very modest beginnings to being one of the most important fora in Ireland for the analysis of topics of national and international interest. It has consistently been a source of innovative and fresh thinking on a range of social, economic and political ideas.

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An edited version of the MacGill proceedings was published every year up to 2011. And since then, the papers have been available in the archive section of this website. They are a significant source for postgraduate students in particular.

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Papers Delivered at MacGill Summer School


Speakers 2018

An overview of the speakers at the 2018 MacGill Summer School.
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Video Archive

Donegal County Council has partnered with MacGill Summer School to record and broadcast the proceedings live as internet webcasts and is making available in a video archive of all speakers since 2009.
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Webcasts Sunday 21st – Friday 26th July 2019

Webcasts of each session from the MacGill Summer School 2018 can be accessed through the Donegal County Council website.

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