A warm welcome to the following speakers who are giving up their time to speak to us at this year’s conference…..more will be added soon!

Pat Farenga


This year we are delighted to welcome Pat Farenga who is travelling from Boston for the conference. Patrick Farenga is a leading advocate of the modern home education movement. Born in New York City, Farenga worked closely with unschooling leader John Holt on his Boston-based magazine, Growing Without Schooling and after John Holt’s death in 1985 he became president of Holt Associates.

He is an author of How to Report Unschooling to School Officials (2015), Starting to Homeschool (www.startingtohomeschool.com), The Legacy of John Holt (2013), co-author of Teach Your Own, and he operates the website www.johnholtgws.com. The entire collection of original issues of Growing Without Schooling, videos and writing by John Holt and Pat Farenga, plus research and other materials that support self-directed education, are available there.


Amy Shields

Amy is 16 years old and has been home educated for most of her life.  She will share with us her experiences of home education and school.


Rose Wells


Rose is the contact officer for the Home Education Network Ireland (HEN).  She and her husband Alan home educate their 14 year old daughter.  She will explain how to start the process of home education in Ireland, including removing a child from school.


Stephen Howell

Stephen is an academic engagement manager for Microsoft Ireland and has generously offered to spend time with teenagers on coding during the conference and will also address the adult audience on the educational benefits of Minecraft and coding.


Tjarda van Roji

Tjarda van Roij is 16 years old and lives in an off the grid merged family of seven. She has been home schooled for seven years and will attend a local conventional school from September with the intention of sitting the leaving cert exam.  She has a passion for people, baking, Scouts and reading. In the future she intends to go to college and open a cafe/bookstore.


Carmel Duffy


Carmel Duffy and her husband did not send any of their 10 children to school until the eldest decided to go herself when she was 17 years old.  They all learned together on a 1 acre in Co. Meath, where they grew a lot of vegetables and kept hens, goats, pigs and later horses. She is now a grandmother of 10 children, some of whom are also unschooling.


Bobbie Sparrow


Speaking as a parent of two boys aged 10 and 13, Bobbie asks the question ‘Unschooling: What’s in it for me?’.  Is it possible that Unschooling could be a transformative journey for the parent? Bobbie shares some of the joys and discoveries that have marked this quietly radical way of life for her.


Colm Keegan



Colm Keegan is a writer and performance poet from Dublin, Ireland.  Since 2005, he has been shortlisted  four times for the Hennessy New Irish Writing Award, for both poetry and fiction and won the All Ireland Poetry Slam in 2010.  His debut collection, Don’t Go There, was released in 2012 to critical acclaim and is available from www.salmonpoetry.com He is one of the organisers of Lingo, Ireland’s first Spoken Word festival.  He facilitates workshops for teenagers.