Irish community has a high profile

ALTHOUGH the Irish community in Slovakia is not large, and the Irish Embassy is also small, there is a steady stream of Irish-themed cultural and social events in Slovakia, many held in cooperation with the Irish Chamber of Commerce (ICham). Naturally, the highlight is St Patrick's Day, March 17, the day of the patron saint of Ireland, with many events revolving around it.

ALTHOUGH the Irish community in Slovakia is not large, and the Irish Embassy is also small, there is a steady stream of Irish-themed cultural and social events in Slovakia, many held in cooperation with the Irish Chamber of Commerce (ICham). Naturally, the highlight is St Patrick's Day, March 17, the day of the patron saint of Ireland, with many events revolving around it.

"This year is a little different as our European Union presidency is our major priority," Brian McElduff, the Irish Ambassador, informed The Slovak Spectator. "But culture is very much part of our communication strategy. We had an Irish band, The Kilkennys, in Bratislava [in January], where they held two concerts - one of which will be broadcast later on R£dio Dev■n. And we are still looking at the possibilities of organising events later this year, preferably outdoor when the weather improves."

In 2012, the events supported by Irish institutions in Slovakia included a visit by Irish singer Gemma Hayes to the outdoor summer music festival Pohoda (and also to a music club in Bratislava). McElduff praised the cooperation with Slovak Radio for the Kilkennys concert, and said that they were trying to launch cooperation with the Slovak Culture Ministry, the Bratislava Mayor's Office, and various universities. He also mentioned positive feedback from Slovaks with respect to not just Irish music but also the country's literature and history. Some of the events organised by ICham, e.g. quiz nights, a family sports day and seasonal parties (Halloween, Christmas, etc.), have drawn the attention of the Slovak public.

In terms of upcoming events, another Irish band, We Banjo 3, is slated to perform in Bratislava next month. St Patrick's Day will see a host of events, most of which will be held at the Eurovea shopping centre in Bratislava (which was developed by an Irish company).

"Some of the neighbouring countries have formal Irish Studies courses at their universities (e.g. in Prague and Vienna) and this is something in which I have been very involved in the past," McElduff told The Slovak Spectator. "There is no formal Irish Studies course yet in Slovakia, but I am keen to explore whether one could be introduced," he concluded.

Information about Irish cultural events can be found at www.embassyofireland.sk and www.irishchamber.sk.

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