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Loredana Salis, University of Sassari

 

 

Mary's third visit to Sassari was exceptional. She met a mixed audience of about 180 people, among them two classes from a the Liceo Scientifico G.Spanu, and one from the Istituto Alberghiero (both secondary schools in Sassari). Students from my literature courses attended as well as PhD research students and a few colleagues.

 

Marian Carr, playwright

I had a wonderful time last spring in Spain as part of the Irish Itinerary with EFCAIS.

I was hosted by the University of La Rioja in Logroño and the University of Granada.

Dr Melania Terrazas Gallego gave me and my husband a lovely welcome in Logroño. The students were excellent and very interested in Irish Literature and were incredibly well read on contemporary Irish poetry, fiction and drama.

We were also taken on a tour of Logroño and had a great final lunch and visit to a winery where many wines were tested and tasted.

Granada was also fantastic. Here we were hosted by Dr Pilar Villar-Argaiz who took us on a tour of Granada and for several dinners and celebrations. Again the students were lively, engaged and very well informed on Irish Literature and Culture. Dr Pilar Villar-Argaiz and I conducted a reading and conversation which was live streamed and also recorded for the university’s archives.

Overall it was an excellent tour with wonderful hospitality and lovely to see such interest in the work.

Pat Boran, poet

"My visit to the Universities of Granada and La Rioja (Logroño) were both hugely enjoyable and genuinely inspiring. The level of interest and preparedness I encountered, both from staff and students, not only in respect of my own work but in respect of the wider subject of writing from Ireland, gave me an invaluable opportunity to see that work from a new perspective. It also allowed me to reconsider its meaning to an informed but perhaps more objective readership than it might normally receive in Ireland. I feel the connections made on this trip will sustain a variety of future dialogues and I am happy now to consider myself an 'unofficial ambassador' for the excellent work done in both Universities, and by EFACIS in general."
 

MA students in English Studies, University of Granada

"My personal discovery after the first day of the Jornadas [Jornadas de Estudios Irlandeses] was that of Pat Boran's person, whom I could appreciate when reading his poems but whom I also found to be a very nice man. Other Irish personalities, dead or alive, came to the fore, like Samuel Beckett, Emily Lawless, Louise O'Neill. Some of them well known, some others pleasant discoveries. I do appreciate the fact that the new names were all female and that, indeed, they are worth a lot of attention."   _Arianna Di Gregorio

"I was thrilled at the opportunity of talking to the artists we had been discussing in the MA course on Irish Studies, and both of them were extremely nice to us students. Not only did they politely agree to answer our questions about their work, but they also accepted having personal interviews with students that are currently carrying out different types of research on their work (final essays, MA theses and PhD dissertations)."   _José Ramón Llarena Rodríguez

"The Irish poet Pat Poran commented on his literary production and read some of his poems for us. [...] He also told us about some curious anecdotes of his childhood and adolescence that I fould useful to understand his literary production."   _Roberto C. Olavarría Choin

"It has been such an extraordinary way of getting to know in a fund and amusing way the Irish culture. I have to highlight that Marina Carr has accompanied us in this event, and she gave us the chance of talking to her and meet her more profoundly. It was a really exciting and funny event."   _Marina López Jiménez

"The possibility of meeting and hearing the authors we have studied in the Master's programme was one chance that we are not given multiple times throughout our lives. Hearing Marina Carr be honest and transparent about her ideas and inspirations managed to bridge the gap between reader and author. As one often tends to idolize this type of figures due to the beauty of their work, one also tends to forget humanities lies in all of us."   _Maria Luiza Dobre

"Writers like Carr simply writhe as a passion and do not put much interpretation into their own work. This is what makes them outstanding writers and ones that should always be read and discussed. It was also great to see her talk to some of my classmates and having them tell me just how awesome she is. her kind-hearted personality was felt by the entire audience and this is what makes me want to read more of her work."   _Jenifer Martin

4th year students of English Studies, University of La Rioja

"Pat Boran's and Marina Carr's readings made me not only have more interest in poetry and theatre, but also in Irish culture."
"Marina Carr's had a gift for dialogue"
"Pat's views on poetry and his introduction to some of his poems were very thought provoking"

 

Sven Kretzschmar, German-Irish Society Saarland e.V.

"Vona's reading in Saarbrücken, Germany was a wonderful event which was greatly enjoyed by all of us. Vona was a wonderful guest, and a brilliant and humorous reader who managed to entertain the audience and have it immerse in her poems at the same time. Together with a Q&A session and with the signing of plenty of copies of her publications, Vona's reading lasted for a good two hours. The students, teachers, and other guests were very interested in her work as a poet and teacher of poetry. Together with Vona's openness about her writing, it is no wonder that we had a lot of thought-provoking and interesting questions about a variety of topics raised in the poems and texts from her two latest publications, 'Selected Poems' and 'Four Sides Full'. --- The event was widely advertised through Saarland University's Chair of British Literary and Cultural Studies, the German-Irish Society Saarland, the press office of Saaland University, and in a variety of local cafés, pubs, and shops in the county. --- We were delighted to host Vona's reading in Saarbrücken and are hoping to be able to welcome her back at some point.

Vona Groarke, poet

I was delighted to take part in the 2017 Irish Itinerary, on the German / Dutch circuit. It is an honour to represent Irish writing on continental Europe, and to meet dedicated scholars and readers who take a passionate interest in contemporary Irish literature. The tour was nicely organised for me - with three venues in four days, a lot can go wrong, but the successful administration of the visit meant that it all ran smoothly and pleasantly. I had a lovely welcome at each of my three different venues, and good conversation with a variety of people about Irish writing and publishing. I would gladly recommend the Irish Itinerary to other writers, and would like to express my gratitude to EFACIS for the invitation, and for ensuring I had such a stimulating and enjoyable trip.

 

Gearóid Mac Lochlainn, poet

The journey was great, inspiring and I intend to publish a book in Gaeilge on the trip itself and some of the cultural philosophical and linguistic exchanges that occurred. I hope the book will create a dialogue about Irish/Hungarian linguistic identities, cultural similarities and differences. The book will acknowledge support from all the agencies who supported this project and I hope it will prove a record of the value of such exchanges for the artist, the hosts, and the reader/the public. I am still processing a lot of the discoveries I made about Hungary, Ireland and myself and will spend the next few months preparing a publication. As a writer working in a minority language in Ireland I found this experience invaluable in motivating me to re-evaluate Irish language writing in general and my own art forms. I am deeply grateful to all who generously helped with this personal journey.

Marianna Gula, University of Debrecen

“Tongues in translation: A trilingual evening of poetry and music”:

Report on Gearóid MacLochlainn’s reading in Debrecen as part of the EFACIS Irish Itinerary (2017)

 

On 8 November 2017 the Centre for Irish Studies in the Institute of English and American Studies, University of Debrecen hosted a reading by Belfast poet-performer Gearóid MacLochlainn as part of the EFACIS Irish Itinerary. Unlike in previous years, the reading was organised in a Jazz club in the city, rather than at the university – in compliance with the “unicity” aspirations of the Itinerary – but like in previous years, it proved to be a huge success with over 60 people in the audience.

Apart from the change of venue, this year’s event also departed from previous practice in that our special guest’s reading was conjoined with Irish music by the Debrecen band Luan as well as with a reading by the Debrecen poets Imre Olivér Horváth, György Sebők and Petra Visnyei. The idea to stage the event this way took its cue from crucial aspects of Gearóid’s ars poetica: his emphasis on poetry’s close connections to music and his conception of performance as an integral part of the creative process; both shared by the Debrecen performers.

The polylogue of voices and artistic media worked extremely well (see the enthusiastic audience feedback). The various elements of the evening came into play and jammed with each other, most perfectly in the trilingual rendition of three of our special guest’s poems focusing on language and translation: Gearóid’s trademark macaronic performance, mixing Irish and English, was complemented by Imre Horváth’s Hungarian translations of the poems delivered by the three Debrecen poets respectively.

 

The audience was also intrigued by the interplay between our special guest’s poetry and the music by Luan, to a great extent orchestrated by his flexibility in selecting what poems to read, as well as by his thoughtful comments on how social, political and cultural developments in Northern Ireland may resonate in a Hungarian context.  

 

The event was a huge success, as the enthusiastic written feedback testifies. The local hosts are immensely grateful to EFACIS and the organisers of the Irish Itinerary for all their work and for securing funds to sponsor this event.

 

Dr. Marianna Gula

Department of British Studies, Institute of English and American Studies

Head of CIS at the University of Debrecen

Student feedback, Debrecen; reading by Gearóid Mac Lochlainn

The Trilingual Poetry Night was fascinating because it was the first time I got to enjoy the same poem in three different languages, recited and spoken, which is a great difference. Even though I do not understand Irish Gaelic, (and initially when spoken it sounded like Hebrew, due throaty vocalizations and abundance of consonants) I could keep up with where the poem was because of the rhythm. This was another boon of the night, over just reading out the three different versions – in recital, thanks to the good translations, the bounce and rhythm of the poems were similar enough, so one could recognize them as the same.

            I was surprised when Gearóid MacLochlainn prefaced some of his poems with current political events that are relevant here or some general parallels between the original topic of the poetry and Hungarian matters. However, he did not let that tone dominate completely, and knew how to balance it well (such as the poem about the room that was political yet comic) between serious and entertaining. The poem about the curse was a great example of this.

            The live music was well done and refreshing and it gave the whole night a nice pace. While even to the most astute audiences, listening to recited poetry over a long period of time can become tiring, here that problem did not appear as the audience could relax and just enjoy the music between segments. (Molnár Gergely, MA student, University of Debrecen)

First, I must confess that I have never been to a poetry recital event before this one, but even if I had been, I feel like this still would have been a wholly new experience. The Hungarian students set the stage and atmosphere nicely, but my favourite part was, without a doubt, the second half. For me, the most striking feature of Gearóid Mac Lochlainn's poetry is that it is truly a performance: musical without any actual music. The words and sound blended together, and often I found his poems to resemble some mantra or meditated inner monologue. The poetic devices really made the poems live: onomatopoeic words, alliterations, metaphors, repetition all made the poems easy on the ear. Often he also operated with puns and both English and Irish words that rhyme. I found the mixing of the two languages to be a powerful tool: it often emphasized a message, gave an additional layer of meaning, or drove the point of the poem home. Despite the poems being seemingly simple, they embody so much. They speak of oppression, the slow withering of a language, political turmoil and social problems. At the same time, they celebrate the Irish language and contribute to its survival. The music provided by the band accompanied the poems well, and transported us to an an Irish town. All in all, I enjoyed the evening a lot: I feel like I learned something more about Ireland through Gearóid Mac Lochlainn's poems. (Bajzát Krisztina, BA student, University of Debrecen)

 

I had two slight concerns prior to the night. I was somewhat worried that the performers would take themselves too seriously, giving the event an air of self-importance and pretension, and I was also wondering whether a real sense of Irishness (whatever that is) could be conveyed without pandering to the audience’s preconceived, clichéd notions of what an authentic Irish experience should be like. To my pleasure, both of these worries turned out to be completely unfounded –  the whole night was pervaded by an atmosphere of playful self-deprecation and irony (opening and main act included) and one could really get a compacted overview of Ireland as such through Gearóid MacLochlainn’s performance; its history, its social and political climate and a generalized but specific worldview of its inhabitants that cannot be mistaken for anybody else’s. I also very much appreciated the musicality of the night and I do not just mean the actual musical performances. For me, MacLochlainn’s recitation of his works had an effect similar to sound poetry due to the language barrier. The general rhythm of his poetry and the seamless, sometimes almost unnoticeable transitions between the English and the Irish lines gave it a strong musical quality; after a while, I was mesmerized by these pulsating clusters of sounds with the occasional, intelligible English word emerging out of the meaningless mess of aural impressions. In short, it was a delightful experience. (Szabó Zoltán, BA student, University of Debrecen)

The Irish Itinerary night in Sikk Club united poetry and music in a special and enjoyable way. The first performance impressed me with how well-fitting the combination of music and poetry could be. The flow of the music reflected the emotions and mood of the poems, being more complex and fast as it continued and grew more and more passionate. Then, the music slowed down and went silent as the poem ended and the emotions settled down. The poems “Tongue,” “Second Tongue” and “Translations” were read out in both Irish, English and Hungarian. Each language’s tone gave different feelings to the poems. The fact that it was the writer himself who read out his poems felt special to me, as well as to be able to hear about the background of the poems, and how they were created. It made the poems seem more alive. It was a great idea to connect the poems with music, since it added a lot to their stories and made the night even more lively. My favourite poems were “Human Resources” from the beginning of the night, as it was one I could easily relate to, and “Room” because of its vibrant imagery and as it could not only be associated with Ireland, but to me, with Hungary as well. (Rácz Edina, BA student, University of Debrecen)

 

To be completely honest, I was always more interested in novels and short stories than poetry, therefore I was a little bit concerned that I will not necessarily enjoy the performances. Fortunately, the whole night proved me wrong and showed me that poetry is more colourful than I’ve ever felt before. Especially with some additional music.

This trilingual event started with an opening act by three Hungarian performers, who were reciting and singing some poems of their own. Imre Olivér Horváth’s performance was the most remarkable, he’s clearly born for the stage.

During the second session with our special guest, I felt even more that in the future I should attend more events like this. I loved how Gearóid MacLochlainn’s reading voice fitted for all of his poems, for me hearing poetry from the very person who wrote those poems was way more enjoyable than to read at home.  From among his poems my favourites were ‘Aistriúcháin’ and ‘Room’, which were deep and humorous at the same time. I really liked how he played with his voice and how he adapted his poems for the stage. The former poem has also been translated into Hungarian for the occasion and that was the most well-done and well-performed from the three translated pieces, in my opinion.

The musical parts between the poems were fascinating and heart-warming. The band, Luan was absolutely amazing. Towards the end of the evening I felt like getting up and dancing. (Tóth Boglárka, BA student, University of Debrecen)

Personally, I love anything Irish. Irish beer, Irish music, the Irish language, and the Irish accent all fascinate me. Discovering how much Irish ancestry I have in me has only strengthened that connection I have with the culture. There are a couple of things I noticed about the music and the written word in regards to their moods and concepts. It's something we've covered in the lectures, but the amount of history--social, political, philosophical--that finds its way into the Irish arts, is the Irish arts, is astounding. The music and literature of the people are that of centuries of angst, anger, frustration, revolution, depression, triumph, and most of all, struggle.

    Gearóid MacLochlainn's poems told many things not only in words but the rhythm and tone. It was at times very low and laconic, but other times it was louder and verbose--pushing the emotion forward to the next phrases. The words themselves told a dark history of oppression and strife, but at the same time, you could understand the pride in it somehow. You could sense the Irishness, that of nationalistic sentiment, but that was not overt or anything. During this event, I felt the music existed contradictorily to the poems in this way. While there are darker genres in Irish music, the traditional music like we heard last night is more upbeat. It takes that subliminal Irish pride from the poems and puts it--literally--center stage. To say that the music is "happy" would not do it justice. It's triumphant in the sense that it is unapologetic for its optimistic Irish celebration. You simply want to get up and dance, and I think that is largely the point. Struggle after struggle, the Irish people continue to get up and dance. (Charles Dyer, American student studying in Debrecen, BA, University of Debrecen)

 

The poetry night was great. I had fun and had a chance to gain knowledge and experience. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity before to hear poems in a different language, let alone Irish. I found the language most intricate, although it was rather unfamiliar to my ears at first. The poems sounded more like a chant to me, but eventually as I got used to the pronunciation and strange sounds it was pleasant. I was intrigued by the historical snippets the poet mentioned, it is so different to hear these from a native speaker, and to see how the collective memory of the Irish is present in someone. While the reciting was fantastic, the Irish music was what I enjoyed most. The fiddle is such a marvellous instrument I love how it sounds, it is so joyful and nimble. It makes me want to dance whenever I listen to it. The harmony of the instruments was mesmerizing. All in all, the artists were all fantastic and I had a wonderful time. I was already interested in Irish culture but from now on, I shall endeavour to spend more time studying, and enjoying it. I hope I will have the chance to attend such events in the future! (Takács Dóra, BA student, University of Debrecen)

A Stream of Tongues – A Night of Poetry and Music with Gearóid Mac Lochlainn

“Tonight, my friends, there will be no translations,” said the poet Mac Lochlainn to all of us, thus giving the undertone to the evening. There would be no translations, and in a way, there were not any: Northern-Irish Mac Lochlainn recited his poetry in such a manner that could never be mirrored in any other language – something would always be lost. However, translation was already happening by the very act of announcing that it would not. The strange and alien-looking texts from the sheets of paper distributed became language and sound when spoken by the poet, and then that sound became music when accompanied by the Debrecen band Luan. Hearing a language spoken by few is always a wonder, but hearing it put into poetry was a revelation. There was a rhythm to it, something we, the audience had not known but still could not help but find familiar: the not-understanding of Irish became our own way of understanding. And so, it was a small Northern Ireland at Sikk klub that night; we were initiated into it by words, by sound, by music. Hearing actual translations of Mac Lochlainn’s works – because the command of banishing translations had only been partly true – could be described as sruth teangacha – a stream of tongues. That is what it was; tongues moving and sound escaping, giving way to a meaning that moved beyond language. (Szirák Anna, BA student, University of Debrecen)

Ondřej Pilný, Charles University Prague

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill in Prague and Vienna – EFACIS Irish Itinerary 2017

 

Prague and Vienna had the honour to host celebrated poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill in September. The Prague reading was part of an Evening of Irish Literature and Music at the magnificent Strahov Monastery (15 September), featuring also writer, translator and scholar Alan Titley. The work of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Alan Titley was presented also in Czech translations by Daniela Theinová, Radvan Markus and Martin Světlík. The reading was accompanied by the music of Kateřina García and Síle Denvir, who performed Irish, Czech and Catalan songs.

This public event was hosted by the Centre for Irish Studies at Charles University as part of the international conference “Ar an Imeall i Lár an Domhain? An tairseachúlacht i litríocht agus i gcultúr na Gaeilge agus na hEorpa”, and was supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ireland and Culture Ireland via the EFACIS Irish Itinerary. It was covered in articles in the Irish Times and Tuairisc.

Following the Prague performance, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill continued on her journey to Vienna, where she gave a well-attended reading at Vienna University (18 September).

Katharina Rennhak, University of Wuppertal

“Claire Kilroy's reading on Bloomsday in Wuppertal was a great success. The Irish Itinerary really is a fantastic programme! 

At least 70 students, colleagues and Wuppertal citizens very much enjoyed the whole event. Claire Kilroy was an immensely charming guest, her reading from The Devil I Know was wholly enjoyable and she was very enthusiastic and gave us a lot of food for thought during the Q&A session after the reading. In addition, she spent hours signing her books and chatting with indivdual visitors after the event proper. 

I am also very grateful for the suggestion of the main organizers of the Irish Itinerary to find a location in the city center and to avoid the university premises. Doubting that many students would find their way into town after a long day on our (commuter) campus, I was skeptical, at first, whether this would prove to be a good idea. But it did! The proprietor and staff of the SWANE cafe were lovely hosts (who did not take any entrance fees and did not want me to pay for any of Claire Kilroy's drinks) and the location itself was just perfect. Although the audience consisted mostly of students, other interested people, who would probably not have joined us on campus, also found their way to the event. My colleagues and I were absolutely delighted and would certainly love to organise similar events in the future.” 

Eva Michely, University of Saarbrücken

“Claire's reading went extremely well. We enjoyed it immensely and Claire  was a wonderful guest and brilliant reader. We had advertised the event at university and we forwarded the info to the university's press office. We had also availed of the German-Irish  Society Saarland's mailing list to spread the word. The Q&A-Session alone lasted for about 80 mins: the audience seemed to  enjoy it greatly and especially our students asked many questions. We were all very much taken by Claire Kilroy who was such an interesting and thought-provoking speaker, and who spoke very openly and in a very  personal way about The Devil I Know, the creative process and about  the socio-historical context of the novel.” 

Stefan Moal, University of Rennes

“Lillis O Laoire came to sing at the University of Rennes 2 on Wednesday, March 18th, 2015.

The event was co-organized by Efacis and the Centre of Breton and Celtic Research of Rennes 2.

The venue was carefully chosen and very appropriate, in a room especially designed for singing, at the Music Department of Rennes 2.

The acoustics were therefore very good, Lillis appreciated this and he sang for nearly an hour and a half with short comments in English about each of the songs. The attendance was a nice mix of around sixty people, students and lecturers alike, mostly from the departments of Celtic (including some students of Irish), English (Irish studies stream) and Music. They were both very attentive during the performance and enthusiastic after it : Lillis's voice literally worked wonders. The performance was recorded and filmed, with Lillis's agreement, by a colleague from the Centre de Formation des Musiciens Intervenants of Rennes 2. The rest of the evening went on very smoothly, with five of us from Rennes 2 (including our Irish language tutor, who happened to be an ex student of his) having dinner with Lillis in a restaurant in town, after which he even gratified us with one last going-away song. A great evening indeed, magic !” 

Marianna Gula, Head of CIS, Debrecen University

On 11 December 2014 the Centre for Irish Studies of the Institute of English and American Studies at Debrecen University hosted a reading by Northern Irish novelist Glenn Patterson as part of the second Irish Itinerary sponsored by EFACIS. The event was embedded in a 3rd-year BA lecture course, Introduction to Irish Studies (where his seminal novel Fat Lad is required reading), but it was widely advertised around the university and the city, thus it drew interested people beyond students enrolled for the course. Over 50 people filled the room and our guest made it absolutely worthwhile for everyone to attend.

Glenn Patterson’s reading demonstrated to the audience not only that he is a brilliant writer, but also that he is a great performer interacting with and thus involving his audience. His informative and highly enjoyable talk progressed through humorous digressions. At times it was also creatively improvised, as he engaged with the background images, the covers of his novels and Belfast landmarks, key motifs in his two most recent novels. The way he spoke about Belfast, its history and its present, was inspiring; the way he allowed the audience glimpses into the writing process as well as his writerly habits and rituals was intriguing; and the way he spoke about his personal and creative interest in Hungary was fascinating for his Hungarian audience. His reading of passages from his novels – Number 5 and The Rest Just Follows – as well as a journalistic piece about food and writing, prompted by our talks the previous day, was perfectly paced and brilliantly dramatised. It was also thrilling for me personally to listen to his reading of the opening of Fat Lad and then have the chance to read out my translation of the passage in his presence.

The event was a huge success. The local hosts are very grateful to EFACIS and the organisers of the Irish Itinerary for all their work and for securing funds to sponsor this event.

3rd-year BA student, Debrecen

During our BA studies, this is the first semester that we got a deeper insight into Irish Culture and Literature and a reading event like this was just the perfect way to raise the students’ interest not only in Mr Patterson’s novels, but also in Irish literature in general. Mr Patterson’s great sense of humour and the way he talked about his novels, the city of Belfast and the process of writing made us rush to the library right after the event and borrow his books immediately. It was also amazing that he himself read out some parts of the novel, Fat Lad, which is required reading for our Introduction to Irish Studies lecture course. We do not often have the chance to meet the authors of the reading materials for our courses, and it was not just entertaining and enjoyable but also quite useful; an event like this brings the students closer to the topics discussed in class. My favourite parts of the event were when Mr Patterson described how he chose the titles of his novels and when he talked about his experiences about Hungary and Hungarian people. I enjoyed listening to him, it was so good to hear him talk about Belfast; it was clear that he loves the city where he lives and works. 

3rd-year BA student, Debrecen

Glenn Patterson’s reading made me realize that brilliant writers are also people like us. When I read a book I sometimes think about the author, sitting in a chair in an idyllic place, pencil in his/her hand and his/her head full of amazing thoughts about a pre-planned story. Glenn Patterson, however, did not seem to be such a person, even though he had amazing thoughts and a pencil. He takes his thoughts from everyday situations and dilemmas he has experienced. The whole character of Mr Patterson is so loveable and funny that the audience often laughed out loud. Personally, I think that the best part of the reading was that he gave background information about the books from which he read out. For example, he described the origin of a key motif, that of the goldfish in Fat Lad. I liked when he said that he wrote about Belfast because it is his city and if he lived here he would write about Debrecen. 

3rd-year BA student, Debrecen

Glenn Patterson’s reading was a delightful event. He talked with a great sense of humour and grabbed everyone's attention with his words. I was surprised and excited at the same time to see how he is different than the image I had built in my mind about him. I was inspired by how he carries pen and pencil in his pocket so he could write anytime, and the way he appreciates nature and his city, Belfast. Through his words, I could envision what it is like to stand on top of Cave Hill and look down on his beloved city, and through his description and short reading from his book Number 5, I felt that everyone has a story of their own, none is more or less significant than the other, and even the smallest things, the most simple practices of life can be turned into beautiful writing.

3rd-year BA student, Debrecen

For me, attending Glenn Patterson’s reading was a first time. I have never been at an author’s event before so I am grateful for this opportunity. It was a really enjoyable experience. It was interesting to hear him read from his own works; and as a Hungarian, I found it nice of him to choose a passage from Number 5 with a Hungarian character in it. The stereotypes about Hungarian people were surprisingly and hilariously accurate so it definitely made me even more interested in this novel. What I really appreciated though was that the passages he read from The Rest Just Follows had a lifelike atmosphere. Even though the action in the passage he read out is set in the 1970s in Belfast, it still managed to evoke some nice memories of mine as well. However, the best parts of the reading were when Mr Patterson talked about his own life and his writing process. I would have never guessed that he still writes with a pen, a memorable detail for me. I also like the idea that each book he writes requires a different setting both physically and mentally than the previous ones. On the whole, it was a pleasant event; it was funny and thought-provoking at the same time. 

Ondrej Pilný, director of the Centre for Irish Studies in Prague

Mary McPartlan sang in Prague at the Marjánka dance hall on 20 November, accompanied by Aidan Brennan and Pádraic Keane to a dedicated and enthusiastic audience, aged 5 months to 60 years – even an impromptu jig was danced by some audience members during the final number. The concert was followed by a music session in a Scottish bar owned by the concert producer where our Irish guests were astonished to see that, as soon as they played the first few bars of the first tune, about 20 people whipped out their instruments and joined in. It turned out that some of the participants travelled over 200 km to be able to play with Mary, Aidan and Pádraic. The wave of energy was simply amazing, and needless to say, the session turned out to be long. In addition, Mary lectured to Charles University students on Irish women singers on 21 November.

Dr. Marianna Gula, head of CIS at Debrecen University

"In the spring of 2014 the Centre for Irish Studies of the Institute of English and American Studies, Debrecen University organised the screening of two Irish films sponsored by EFACIS, Culture Ireland, IFI and the Arts Council of Ireland. To make the events available to the general public both films were screened (free of charge) in the Apolló movie theatre, the municipal cinema of Debrecen during the Debrecen Spring Festival: What Richard Did (dir. Lenny Abrahamson, 2012) on 7 April, 6 p. m.; and Aisling Gheal (dir. Dónal Ó Céilleachair, 2013) on 8 April, 6 p.m.

The turnout was great on both nights with more than 80 people in the audience on the first night – the room could not accommodate all those who showed up and even the stairs were occupied and around 60 people the second night. On both nights before the screening I provided a brief introduction, locating the films in the context of Irish film and contemporary Irish culture.

The audience was receptive to both films, so the Debrecen Centre for Irish Studies is very grateful to EFACIS and the organizers of the Irish Itinerary Programme that they applied for and secured the funds to sponsor this programme."

student, Debrecen university

"I really like Lenny Abrahamson’s films. Adam and Paul and Garage had a great impact on me but What Richard Did is my favourite so far because I think it addresses some problems with which most of my peers can identify. I admire Abrahamson’s attitude towards the troubles of teenagers and young adults. While watching his films, I always feel that he is really committed as a director to call attention to certain problems. Some of these are quite universal messages but as a student interested in Irish studies, I appreciated the short introduction before the screening because it shed light on the film’s connection to current Irish affairs. Last but not least, it was a great opportunity to watch one of Abrahamson’s films in a cinema because this way I could enjoy the beautiful cinematography. I am grateful to those people who helped in the organisation of this event so that we could enjoy What Richard Did in the environment which did justice to this great film."

student, Debrecen university

"What Richard Did is a beautifully shot, emotionally complex drama which held my attention from beginning to end. Although the storyline is sometimes predictable, the great performance by Jack Raynor, the well written dialogues, and tense soundtrack compensate a lot. It is kind of shocking how one single incident can influence our life. Richard had almost everything a teenager could have wished for: friends, good family and financial background, a beautiful girlfriend, and a great future. But one crucial act and almost everything is destroyed. It is fascinating how different level of emotions go through the movie; happiness, love, rage, insanity, despair... I really like the conclusion of the film, which was a sort of surprise for me, that it is up to us to decide whether Richard confesses his crime or he is able to move on with his life.AISLING GHEAL

Aisling Gheal is an intriguing documentary film about traditional Irish music, Sean-nós, and Irish people who are trying to keep it alive. In my opinion, this film beautifully represents values of music, traditions, and peaceful people’s life in Ireland. The additional sceneries of the wonderful nature make the documentary visually intense. The journey of the young Shahira Apraku is quite an inspiration, but also makes me think of how the younger generation in my country lacks an interest in our traditions. I think she really captures the audience (at least me) with her beautiful voice and unceasing zest. Although I am rather fond of instrumental music this film showed me a really amazing genre."

Rita Duffy

“The title for my lecture is 'Significant Garments'. I will present a series of images created over the last 25 years of my visual art practice. A haute couture of garments that have multiple readings, ranging from police protective outer wear to Mairead Farrells Parka jacket worn in Armagh Women's prison.”

“… I had an incredibly inspiring time and everything was wonderfully well organised. France was wonderful I love this life travelling and lecturing.” 

“What a wonderful experience in Braga, I am sorry to be leaving”

Anne Enright

“I thought I would enjoy Scandanavia and I did; enjoyed, too, the spirit of the perenigration. It is sad to think that Irene and Britta are retiring from Irish studies, though there seems to be no stopping those chicks, I feel they will go and go.

So, lots of hard work and good people, and snow - some sense of connection, too - these, to quote Julie Andrews, are a few of my favorite things.”

Medbh McGuckian

“On 8th April we flew into Prague. Petra, a postgraduate student, met us and took us by tram and metro to the town centre hotel. Justin and Ondrej took us for a lovely meal.

The reading in the Shakespeare bookshop was well attended … there was a very thorough introduction and a reception hosted by the Embassy. Next morning we took the train to Vienna where Werner met us. We attended the Joyce songs and had dinner with Sinead and Darina which was excellent. The reading was more formal in a lecture hall lots of questions, good introduction by Werner, the Ambassador was represented. Next afternoon I did a poetry workshop with 12 students of various backgrounds … they were very eager and Julia organized it well. On Saturday we enjoyed the Austrian festival in the park.

Train to Budapest on Sunday where Borsca met us …. We were very well looked after. Donald and Chilla were great hosts in Debrecen and our reading with interview was well attended. We saw a little of the park with the writers’ statues.

Borsca drove to Pécs on Wednesday; the audience were lovely people mostly women.

Final reading in a large lecture hall at Pázmány Péter University near Budapest. Beautiful campus. Many very erudite questions. I was intrigued by how interested students were in the political aspects of my work.”

Sinead Murphy and Darina Gallagher

"We had a really great mini-tour of Scandinavia and all our hosts, Charles, Britta and Irene were so supportive, interesting and generous. We managed to jot down a few notes as we travelled around. This was the first visit to Norway and Sweden for Songs of Joyce. The show was very well received in all three locations and was enjoyed by those new to Joyce aswell as students and academics who felt it brought a fresh insight into the works."

"We performed in the town’s public library in Falun which meant we attracted a great number of members of the public and local politians as well as academic staff and students from the University of Dalarna. "

Mary Morrissy

"Winter sun in Nijmegen, snow and ice in Brussels and Leuven, blizzards in Kortrijk but the weather paled into the background. What I'll remember is the brightness and curiosity of the students I met, who made me think about my work in a new way; Hedwig Schwall's irrepressible energy; the exquisite beauty of Leuven; the warm welcome at the Irish College and the famine soup recipe courtesy of Chris Cusack, one of my hosts at Radboud Univeristy Nijmegen."

From Professor Irene Nordin

‘Every song was a pearl on a string – I was sad when it was over’

Professor Brita Olinder, Gothenburg

"The Irish Itinerary was a great success here. Rita Duffy made a fascinating presentation illuminating Irish history, politics, social conditions apart from showing examples of her own art – highly appreciated. Anne Enright's lecture was so rich and her reading magic – I can't remember her being so good ever before. And Sinéad and Darina were absolutely wonderful! ...it was brilliant, funny, poignant, subversive. They brought James joyce back to life. Now I want to look at Joyce again...We want to have them back."

Paula Fitzmaurice

“It was lovely to meet Mary Morrissy, and the workshop provided me with food for thought in my own writing. Keep up the good work.”

Jeroen (student)

"Irish writer Mary Morrissy provided interesting new perspectives on her short story Miss Ireland. In order to give the audience an idea of the elements that formed the basis of Miss Ireland, the author presented a valuable historical description of Ireland in the sixties and revealed some personal memories. Morrissy’s seminar provided an excellent opportunity to receive an interesting insight into the creation of a story and it taught me how to interpret a story in a critical way."

Annelies (student)

"I really liked it! I already had a soft spot for James Joyce's poetry and folk music separately, and I thought the combination very appealing. I am looking forward to hearing the entire CD." (on Gerry Smyth's performance)

Britt (student)

"The little brochure we received with the lyrics of the songs really helped to follow the songs and understand their meanings. Gerry Smyth has a wonderful voice and a great sense of humour. The voice of his daughter on tape was even more beautiful . I never really heard any Irish music but I could appreciate it when I heard Gerry Smyth playing it. All in all this was a nice and playful course and I enjoyed it to the fullest."

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