Eight months after Freshers Week, the daunting experience of walking into Front Square to be met by an array of colour and a sea of new faces is a memory that many first years share. On shaky legs we delved into the crowds of our first society fair, our pockets slowly becoming emptier and emptier as we traded our coins in exchange for the promise of an amazing year to come. And what a year it has been – Trinity, alongside roughly 120 of its student-run societies, has played hosted to a grand total of 75 guest speakers, varying in topic, cultures and ideologies.
Unsurprisingly, the Hist, one of the oldest and most populated societies on campus, welcomed the most guest speakers with a total of 13 major public figures visiting throughout the year. Beginning with a talk by Al Sharpton, The Hist has also welcomed figures such as John Pilger, Aslan, Adrian Goldsworthy, Jung Chang, Catherine Day, Patrick Wolf, Michael Noonan, Nigel Farage, Caroline Lucas, Anne Anderson, Ha-Joon Chang, and Kenneth Clarke.
Speaking on a variety of topics including politics, economics, environmental issues, music, and culture, each speaker has attracted widespread student interest, most noticeably Nigel Farage, who’s invitation to College sparked controversy and protest amongst the student body.
The Phil hosted six prominent speakers throughout the year, featuring renowned Irish chef Rachel Allen, upcoming artist Patrick Topping, co-founder of Napster and the first President of Facebook Sean Parker, United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner General Pierre Krähenbühl as well as the creators of the podcast “My Dad Wrote a Porno”. The visit of award winning actress Kristin Chenoweth was highly anticipated throughout the college, with a large crowd in attendance as Chenoweth gratefully received her Gold Medal of Honorary Patronage.
LawSoc had eight speakers his year, which included the acclaimed GAA analyst Joe Brolly, Irish businessman and broadcaster Ivan Yates, Peter Neufeld, an internationally recognised as a civil rights lawyer, Carla Dalla Vedova, the lawyer involved in the notorious case of Amanda Knox, and Mr Justice John Hedigan of the Court of Appeal.
Keeping in theme, The Society of International Affairs (SOFIA) welcomed back an abundance of ambassadors to the college, each of whom discussed their own countries’ current affairs and their link with Ireland. These included the Turkish, French, Austrian, Russian and Japanese Ambassadors. The society also received Nery Ramati, an acclaimed civil rights lawyer to discuss the legal systems in occupied territories, and in October welcomed Dr. Vincent Durac to speak on the political and humanitarian situation occurring in Yemen.
Litsoc also hosted a range of guest speakers, with numerous renowned writers visiting the college throughout the year to remark on their own experience, as well as providing education and insights to those looking to pursue a similar career. Such guests included Sharon Blackie, Darren Shan and a full English literature panel comprised of Catherine Howard, Frank Leahy, Katie Donovan, and Grainne Clea r- an incredible learning opportunity for an eager writer!
One particular guest, Louise O’Neill, acclaimed author of Asking For It spoke at an event organised in conjunction with DU Gender Equality Society (DUGES). O’Neill spoke about her strong and continuous stance on feminism in many of her novels and documentaries, most recently during her RTE2 documentary “Asking For It?: Reality Bites”.
Societies such as DUGES and TCD Environmental Society embraced the educational aspect of their cause and introduced many extraordinary figures to the campus. DUGES engaged heavily in the Repeal movement, creating a platform for both Anna Cosgrave, founder of the well-known Repeal jumpers, and Tara Flynn, to express their political views amongst the student body.
Likewise, Environmental Soc worked alongside figures such as Doug Allen, Andrew Jackson, John Gibbons, Olive Heffernan, and Fergal Smith to advertise the growing dangers of climate change and how we can take action.
Other notable guest speakers were MEP Brian Hayes who spoke with the Europa Society and Trinity Fashion Soc’s discussion with Ciara Allen on navigating the fashion industry.
Looking back, I had very few society expectations coming into college. I never would have dreamed that I could casually attend a talk with award-winning writers in between lectures, or see world leaders strolling around campus once a month. But what was once a foreign concept is a regular in Trinity, achieved by the high working standards of our student run societies.
Correction: 03/05/18 10.20pm This article previously stated that LawSoc had six speakers. This was incorrect; in fact, they had eight this year.