On the 6th of December 2023, the second edition of the international Aran Islands Research Station (AIRS) conference took place on Inishmaan.

The first edition took place in November 2022. Back then, ten participants came to join scientists and community members on the island while other participants took part online. Interestingly, a storm came. The participants already on the island got trapped while we improvised a room at the University of Galway for the other face-to-face participants stuck across from the island. This episode further strengthened the links between the HIGHWAVE project and the local community. As the director of the local school said to the participants: “Now you understand even better what it means to be living on a remote island in a harsh environment”.

Given the success of the first edition, we decided to organise a second edition in 2023, with an increased number of participants. Fifteen scientists from three different countries (Ireland, France and UK) and representatives from government agencies (Met Éireann, Marine Institute, Foreshore Marine Advisor, MARA, French Embassy in Ireland) attended the conference. The local community was represented by fishermen, the community development organization Comhlacht Forbartha Inis Meáin, the Aran Islands Energy Co-op Comharchumann Fuinnimh Oileáin Árann, and Coláiste Naomh Eoin, the school on Inis Meáin.

The conference began with opening addresses from Prof. Philippe Maitre, Vice-President, Research Strategy from ENS Paris-Saclay and  Delphine Tessier, Scientific Attachée, French Embassy in Ireland. The scientific talks covered a large range of topics, from ocean-land coupling in deep and shallow water using seismic data to diurnal warming at the ocean surface. The government agencies covered a variety of topics, from conservation in the marine environment to observation infrastructure in Met Éireann.

The small format of the conference was excellent for maximum engagement. Visits of the station were organised for the participants.

The conference concluded with a clear consensus on the need for a permanent research station on the Aran Islands.

Left to right: Delphine Tessier (French Embassy in Ireland), Arnaud Disant (Technical Director AIRS), Yvonne Leahy (Foreshore Marine Advisor), Chris Bean (DIAS), Philippe Maitre (VP Research Strategy ENS Paris-Saclay), Alan Berry (Marine Institute), Frederic Dias (ENS Paris-Saclay and UCD), Mark McAllister (University of Oxford), Aoife Brady (iCRAG), Graham Benham (UCD), Sarah Gallagher (Met Éireann), Alexis Merigaud (IFPEN)