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XX INQUA Conference Comes to Ireland

09 August 2019

The International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA) recently held its 2019 Congress in the Dublin Convention Centre from 25-31 July.

The Irish Quaternary Association (IQUA) was delighted to welcome the XX INQUA Congress to Ireland. The INQUA Congress is held every four years and is the principal global meeting on all aspects of the Quaternary.  This is the first time that this meeting has taken place in Ireland and it proved to be a big success, which is a testament to the excellent work done by the Irish organising committee over the past four years.

Opened by Mary Robinson (President of Climate Justice, former President of Ireland, 1990-1997, and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, 1997-2002), the XX INQUA Congress was the largest science conference to be held in Ireland this year, bringing in 2,359 delegates (1,038 women and 1,321 men) from 75 countries, with 1,185 oral presentations and 1,476 posters on show. As part of the Congress there were 22 fieldtrips, including one to Clare Island, which a total of 585 delegates participated in. Furthermore, over the course of the Congress, a total of 28,308 teas/coffees and 14,154 lunches were served! 

As part of the six-day proceedings, a Welcome Reception, along with a display of quaternary archive materials relating to Danish botanist and quaternary geologist Professor Knud Jessen, was held at the Royal Irish Academy for the INQUA International Council. The Royal Irish Academy has had a long history of engagement with quaternary science dating back to the nineteenth century and remains the national adhering body for INQUA today. The Academy established a Committee for Quaternary Research in Ireland in 1933.  The Committee invited Prof Jessen to Ireland to study the history of Irish bogs and their flora, and he was later made an Honorary Member of the Academy.  Today, the Academy holds a  collection comprising of some of his field notebooks, one of his photographs, and a copy of his important paper with Anthony Farrington, then Secretary of the Royal Irish Academy, ‘The Bogs at Ballybetagh, near Dublin, with remarks on late-glacial conditions in Ireland’. The activities of the Committee for Quaternary Research were also formative for Frank Mitchell (FRS) who subsequently became President of INQUA (1969-1973) and later the Royal Irish Academy (1976-1979). Both Mitchell and William A. Watts, another Quaternary scientist, who also served as President of the Academy in the early 1980s and donated the Knud Jessen Collection to the Academy in 2009, were elected Honorary Life Fellows of INQUA.  


INQUA is the international union for Quaternary Science and was established in 1928. The Royal Irish Academy acts as the national adhering organisation and pays INQUA union membership and has funded IQUA members to attend INQUA Congresses as national delegates. Ireland is a constituent ‘National Member’ represented on the International Council along with 48 representatives of other National and Regional Member bodies. 

Article image caption:  Dr Catherine Dalton, President of the Irish Quaternary Association, Guest Speaker Prof Mary Robinson, and Prof Peter Coxon, Chair of the INQUA Local Organising Committee

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