Professor Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland, took part in a discussion event at St Mary's University, Twickenham, on Friday night (4th September) as part of the British Association of Irish Studies’ (BAIS) annual conference. The theme of the conference was Ireland: Agents of Social Transformation, and Professor McAleese was interviewed by Professor Mary Hickman, Research Fellow at St Mary’s. During the interview Professor McAleese discussed her time as President alongside some of the changes she has seen in Ireland over the last thirty years. As part of the discussion, Professor McAleese covered many topics from the current refugee crisis and her own experiences of being "a refugee on [her] own island", to the current challenges and opportunities facing Ireland today. This was the first time that Professor McAleese has spoken at St Mary’s following the announcement that she would join as a Distinguished Professor in Irish Studies, a role she will take up in January 2016. Professor McAleese was one of a number of speakers at the conference, which St Mary’s hosted from the 4th to 5th September. Other keynote speakers included Professor Patrick Lonergan from University College Galway, whose speech covered the topic of Irish Theatre and Crisis, and Dr Linda Connolly from University College Cork. The event was sponsored by the Irish Embassy in the United Kingdom and the BAIS. About the Centre for Irish Studies The St Mary’s Centre for Irish Studies offers London’s only MA in Irish Studies. Prof. Mary McAleese is joining St Mary’s as a Distinguished Visiting Professor in 2015/16 and other Faculty staff include: Prof. Mary Hickman, Prof. Shaun Richards, Professor Lance Pettitt, Drs Keith Hopper, Ivan Gibbons, Michelle Paull and Richard Mills. Research and teaching is interdisciplinary with strengths in and across the disciplines of history, sociology, literature, film and cultural theory relating to Ireland and its diaspora. You can find out more on the CIS website. About British Association for Irish Studies The British Association for Irish Studies is a charitable organisation that was established in 1985. Its aim is to encourage and support Irish cultural activities, and the study of Ireland and Irish culture, in Britain. The role of the BAIS is to promote knowledge and understanding of a) Ireland and the relations between the peoples of the two islands; b) the experience of the Irish in Britain and their contribution to British society. The Association has sought to achieve its goals at both university and school level and it has also worked with Irish community groups.