The first Irish Drupal meetup happened in Galway in January 07. Since then, Alan and myself have tried to convinced the Drupal users based in Dublin to get together and organize a Drupal event in Dublin. It was great to have this happen last Saturday with such a high number of attendees: 74 people! Thanks to Stella and Heather for all the marketing work!
All sorts of people came out to the event: folks from Google, IBM, Ericsson, some civil servants, many students from the various Dublin universities and freelance developers. We even had people visiting from the UK. Some were experts in PHP or other languages and were interested in learning about Drupal itself in order to contribute their expertise in coding and security. Some others were keen on creating new ties with the Open Source world in general. The gender ratio was better balanced than the regular 10% that we have come to expect at Drupal events.
I found the time for each session, 20 minutes, to be too short. Most presenters went beyond the allocated duration. As a result some sessions had to be squeezed a bit such as the one on how to contribute to Drupal: I would have loved to have more time to expand on the topic and show a real demo of issue queues walk through on drupal.org. It was awesome to see the amount of newbies in the audience, some of which hadn't registered yet on drupal.org! One point that I didn't emphasize enough is that you do not need to know PHP or the Drupal APIs to advocate Drupal and help newbies. What novices are looking for is layman support for installing Drupal and choosing the appropriate modules. There are a lot of Drupal users out there who never wrote any single line of code and are making great Drupal websites.
Due to the high amount of newbies and in order to cater for both novices and advanced users, 2 tracks were set up in the afternoon. The presentation on the Semantic Web in the advanced user track attracted quite a lot of people and I enjoyed answering the questions which arose from the session. The slides are available online, it's the same presentation I did in Szeged.
Finally, in the hands on session, people were able to ask all sorts of questions. I was asked to show how to maintain a site up to date using CVS, but realized the free WIFI would not let me do so - SSH saved the day! Then Heather and myself demoed CCK and Views which are indispensable modules nowadays. In the end while I was helping Simran to install her first Drupal site on her server, her badge was pulled out for the raffle and she won the Lynda.com DVD, well done! Maybe she will volunteer to present something from the DVD at the next meetup? :)
Alan and myself will try to organize something in Galway next year. There were a few novices at the last event in June, but this time we'll advertise the next event more in advance to try to get more people. More details will be posted on groups.drupal.org/ireland so make sure to subscribe to the group!