Cultural contacts between Ireland and Romania have grown significantly in recent years, facilitated by growing exchanges between the two countries, particularly since the establishment resident Embassies in the two capitals.
The Ireland-Romania Cultural Foundation (IRCF), which was established on the initiative of John Fairleigh, was instrumental in the early days in steadily developing bilateral cultural relations
These days, the Embassy in Bucharest promotes a number of valuable cultural initiatives which continue that tradition of engaging significantly at a cultural level started by John Farleigh. From 2009 to 2013, a yearly “Irish Embassy Award” was presented to an emerging writer for the theatre in Romania. The award carried a cash prize, the offer of a translation of one of the winner’s plays into English, ands a rehearsed reading of the play at the Abbey Theatre during the Dublin International Theatre Festival. Following a review of the scheme, a revised format was agreed for 2014 and a bursary was awarded to a final-year post-graduate student at the National University for Theatre and Cinema (UNACT) in Bucharest to select a modern Irish play from a published collection of four which have been translated into Romanian and to stage a production as her final exam. The chosen play is “Eden” by Eugene O’Brien and the staging will have five productions at the National Theatre in Bucharest in June 2015.
A musical composition by Shaun Davey (photo L) called “Voices from the Merry Cemetery”, with lyrics based on the celebrated epitaphs on the gravestones of the famous cemetery in Maramureş (northern Romania) has generated huge interest in both countries. Concerts of this suite of twelve songs – involving Irish and Romanian performers – have been staged in both Romania and Ireland – in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin (Nov 2010). In November 2011, the embassy, with considerable public and private sponsorship, staged the concert to great acclaim in the Atheneum in Bucharest.
The popularity of St Patrick’s Day in Romania has been growing and last year’s Festival attracted large audiences and great media attention. This year, we will be marking the occasion with the usual events, including the “greening” of the InterContinental Hotel and the National Theatre of Bucharest on 16/17 March. Other significant events will be the St. Patrick’s Ball which is organised by the Irish Romanian Network, the Ambassador’s Reception and concerts of Irish music and dancing.
Although space constrictions will not allow me to write at length about the Embassy’s other cultural activities, I would like to mention the Bloomsday event which was held at Berarie Gambrinus in June last year; the Irish Days Film Festival, held last October, as well as our annual participation in the European Film Festival (this year, in May, the film Calvary will be screened); and our ongoing assistance to the MA Studies course in Cluj, in the form of sponsorship of Irish academics to deliver lectures there. As the 150th anniversary of the birth of the poet W. B. Yeats is celebrated in 2015, we will be organising a major exhibition on his life and works in June.
There is growing interest in Romania in Irish dancing and Irish traditional music. We have both Irish and Romanian dancers and bands active across the country during this St. Patrick’s Day period.
So, a lot is happening in the field of culture and long may it continue.