International Conference Highlights Ireland's 7th Century Knowledge Economy

Thursday, 13 July 2006

An international conference taking place at NUI Galway illustrates how Irish scholars were at the forefront of scientific knowledge in Western Europe as far back as the 7th century. The Science of Computus conference which takes place from Friday, July 14th - Sunday July 16th, will bring together leading scholars from all across Europe, the US and Japan to look at the contribution of Ireland to the development of European science and the origins of present-day mathematical and astronomical ideas.

The Science of Computus – the mathematics required to calculate the date of Easter -provoked much debate and controversy in early medieval times. The date of Easter was the most important in the Christian calendar as it dictated the date of all other Christian festivals. However, it was the Irish who led the way in developing mathematical models by which the date of Easter could be most accurately decided, becoming since the 7th century the leading experts in the field of computistics study. Irish scholars travelled throughout Europe gaining a reputation for their knowledge and learning, and held influential positions in courts across Europe.

Ireland now seeks to lead the way in Europe's Knowledge Economy. Millions are being invested in producing high-level graduates in the field of technology and science. However, as conference coordinator and Ireland's pre-eminent early medieval scholar, NUI Galway's Prof. Dáibhí Ó Cróinín notes, "From the seventh century Ireland led the way in scientific learning and knowledge throughout Western Europe. Ireland was the knowledge economy of the 'Dark Ages', we invented it. The Irish were head-hunted across Europe for their mathematical and scientific knowledge.

Like the early medieval ages, the spread of the Irish diaspora across the world ensures Irish men and women remain in key positions of influence across Europe and the world. However, we now face a challenge in developing our knowledge based economy and recreating the scientific knowledge and learning that was a key feature in the seventh century. Ireland not only needs to attract high-quality researchers but also to invest in its own graduates to ensure that we are to the forefront of scientific learning in Europe."

For further information please see conference website at www.foundationsirishculture.ie/conference2006.

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For further information, please contact Prof. Dáibhí Ó Cróinín,Department of History, NUI Galway. Tel : 091 492 697

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