Laurentic Forum – What is it?

Over 100 years ago in 1917, two German mines sank a transatlantic ocean liner called the HMS Laurentic off the northern coast of Ireland, in Lough Swilly, County Donegal. Over 350 men perished that day and 121 survived. St Mura’s Church in Fahan, County Donegal came to be the resting place in a mass grave for 71 of the men whose bodies were recovered.

In 2006 Don McNeill, a native of St John’s Newfoundland in Canada, who had emigrated to County Donegal in 1994 decided that the tragedy of the Laurentic’s tale deserved recognition. Don and eight like-minded friends decided to ‘chip in’ and purchase a wreath to lay at the monument. The group held a small but poignant commemoration for the 21 Newfoundlanders who were among the 354 men who died on the HMS Laurentic’s sinking.

This small act of homage for the passing of the HMS Laurentic mustered interest locally and nationally. The following year the group decided to hold a much more substantial commemoration event that was attended by Pat Pinn, Canadian Ambassador to Ireland. During the reception, the ambassador stated in his speech, “…would it not be great if we could use this event as a platform to create a better shared future for all by exploring our shared past history…”

From these small and humble grassroot beginnings, the Laurentic Forum and associated conference was formed. The conference has grown organically over the years, gaining interest across Ireland, the North Atlantic, Canada and beyond.

By working with key strategic stakeholders in the Northwest of Ireland, Newfoundland & Labrador – Canada and new partners in Northern Norway and Iceland, the Laurentic Forum has become a truly unique pan-Atlantic collaborative process. The forum’s success has largely been accredited to adherence to a strong ethos and application of the quadruple helix philosophy by engaging with the four main sectors of society (Education, Private, Public & Community sectors).

The Laurentic Forum provides a unique opportunity for all participants. This is facilitated by involvement from a diverse group of attendees including regional councils, governments, governmental agencies, NGOs, private sector practitioners, community groups and educational institutions. The forum enables representatives from four Peripheral Atlantic regions to come together to explore best practice through shared learning. The forum also presents key opportunities to discover and develop potential collaborative projects through EU funding opportunities such as the Atlantic Area Fund, The Northern Periphery & Arctic Programme, LEADER and ACOA in Canada.

The Laurentic Forum is formed with two sub committees – these include a group focused on Tourism and a group focused on Blue Economy. The sub committees meet monthly to discuss the various facets of these themes in the four North Atlantic regions. The results of these discussions and developments are then collated and presented at an Annual Conference held each autumn. Thus, the Laurentic Forum is on ongoing process, that continues to grow, develop, and produce strong outputs with each year that passes.


The Laurentic Forum will host it’s 13th annual conference which is a virtual event taking place on the 02nd, 3rd and 4th November 2021.


Killybegs Marine Cluster, together with Letterkenny Institute of Technology are a partner in the Laurentic Forum. Representing the North West coast of Ireland, The Killybegs Marine Cluster will present on the Social and Economic impact of the Blue Economy in Killybegs and Greencastle at this year’s 13th Annual conference. Also presenting are North Norway, Iceland and Canada’s Newfoundland and Labrador.


Please click here to register.