Secular Sunday #91 – Once Yearly, Clearly

This week has been all about our fifth AGM. I’m glad to report that it was an enjoyable and productive event and that I received a lot of positive feedback about this newsletter. I’m glad it’s being read anyway, and to those who expressed a wish that it would arrive a little earlier on a Sunday, well, maybe next week.

– Derek Walsh, Editor

Annual General Meeting Report

Atheist Ireland committee (Sean O'Shea, Helen O'Shea, Michael Nugent and Jane Donnelly)The 2013 Atheist Ireland Annual General Meeting took place yesterday  in the Harbour Hotel in Galway. We discussed our activities since the last AGM, the organisation’s structure and finances and plans for the coming year. Additionally we launched our Declaration on Secularism Empowering Women and announced our plans to develop the first course about atheism for Irish primary schools.
A full report and a number of videos will be available shortly.

Highlights of the Last Year

  • We have raised over US$4,000 on Kiva loans for entrepreneurs in developing countries.
  • Michael Nugent and Jane Donnelly represented Atheist Ireland as witnesses at the Oireachtas Health Committee hearing on the forthcoming abortion law
  • We hosted a national tour of four public meetings featuring exiled Indian rationalist Sanal Edamaruku.
  • Since February, we have held brunches on the second Sunday of each month, in Dublin, Sligo and sometimes Cork
  • Michael Nugent and Jane Donnelly wrote a chapter on secular education and human rights for the newly-published book Towards Mutual Ground – Pluralism, Religious Education and Diversity in Irish Schools edited by Gareth Byrne and Patricia Kieran.
  • Our Facebook page passed 5,000 likes. Our Facebook group has more than 1,700 members.
  • In June we hosted an international conference on Empowering Women Through Secularism. The conference discussed Reproductive Rights, Secular Values, Separation of Church and State, Human Rights, and Politics and Campaigning.
  • We made a comprehensive formal submission to the Irish Constitutional Convention, seeking the removal of the offence of blasphemy from the Irish Constitution
  • Atheist Ireland member Brendan Maher celebrated the first anniversary of his monthly outreach table at the GPO in Dublin, promoting atheism, secularism and humanism to members of the public.
  • Atheist Ireland member Ashling O’Brien started a Meetup group for atheist and agnostic singles in Dublin.
The above represent just a small sample of our activities over the last year or so. There are far too many to include here. The full report is available here.

Committee Elections

There was one nomination for each of our elected positions and the following were returned unopposed:

Chairperson – Michael Nugent
Secretary – Helen O’Shea
Finance – Sean O’Shea
Regional – Kevin Sheehan

The current co-opted committee members are:

Jane Donnelly – Human Rights
Derek Walsh – Membership
Dara Hogan – Finance
Leonie Hilliard
Martijn Leenheer

Declaration on Secularism Empowering Women

On 30 June 2013, Atheist Ireland’s international conference in Dublin on Empowering Women Through Secularism discussed and adopted a declaration on Secularism empowering women. It was launched at our AGM. You can read it in full here.

Course for Primary Schools

We will be working with Educate Together to develop Ireland’s first ever course about atheism for primary schools. The lessons will be based on the Toledo guiding principles and will be taught in an objective, critical and pluralist manner. They will teach about atheism, not teach atheism. Read more

Guest Speaker

Our guest speaker for the afternoon session was Séamus Murnane, who set up the original website, which led to the founding of Atheist Ireland. Séamus spoke about the early days of the website and his personal journey to atheism. In recognition of the instrumental role he played in the early days of Atheist Ireland and because he is now emigrating, Seamus was presented with a harmonica by Michael Nugent (not just a random gift, Séamus is a keen harmonica player and founder of


The Last Supper, atheist-styleMost of the committee and a number of other Atheist Ireland members went for dinner in a local restaurant following the AGM. Any resemblance to any religious artworks is purely non-coincidental.


Other News


All events are free and open to everyone unless otherwise stated.

  • Monday 23 September, 8:30 pm, McSwiggans Bar and Restaurant, Woodquay, Galway (map)
    Galway Skeptics in the Pub #65. Facebook event page
  • Friday 27 September, Trinity College and other locations around Dublin
    Discover Research Dublin. An event to raise public awareness of researchers and research careers, giving the public the opportunity to meet researchers within the context of interactive activities and hands-on demonstrations that highlight the appeal of pursuing a career in research. Read more
  • Sunday 29 September, 12:00 noon,  Galway Lawn Tennis Club, Galway (map)
    Humanists West, Galway are having their monthly meeting. Facebook event page
  • Saturday 5 October, 12:00 noon – 2:00 pm, GPO, O’Connell St., Dublin 1 (map)
    Brendan Maher and friends will be outside the GPO with a stall promoting atheism, secularism and humanism. Email Brendan if you want to help or for further information.
  • Sunday 6 October, 4:00 pm, Buswell’s Hotel, Molesworth St., Dublin 2 (map)
    Monthly meeting of the Humanist Association of Ireland.
Secular Sunday