Eugene Quinn will lead a walk about the strong Irish cultural exchange with Vienna.
Not on St Patrick's Day, but in high summer, something which Ireland lacks.
We will discuss language and literature, identity, politics, longing, songs, migration and sentimentality.
For an island of only 7 million people, Ireland is very present in the rest of the world. Through art, music, literature and politics, this group of Celts have an outsized voice on the world stage. Facebook and Google have their European headquarters in Dublin.
Mary Robinson is recognised as a force for diplomacy around the world, having led UNHCR for 5 years, and Mary McAleese is a progressive voice on reconciliation, coming from the north of Ireland and building so many bridges across the disputed British/Irish border, as President of Ireland from 1997-2011.
These women replaced some rather dull men and brought a dynamism to Irish politics which continues to resonate. It was the first time worldwide that a woman had replaced a woman as president of a country. And in 2017, Ireland became the first county worldwide to ask the people if gay couples should be able to marry with the same conditions as straight people. Hundreds of thousands of Irish women and men travelled home to proudly vote in the referendum, which was successful and sent out a message about the new, progressive Ireland (at that time led by an openly-gay, half-Indian Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar).
You may have heard of the extravagant egos of Bob Geldof, Oscar Wilde, Roy Keane, WB Yeats and Bono, but these people have a flow and a rhythm to their delivery which invites you to hear some more.
Irish football fans become spontaneous diplomats around the world, and this bottom-up dynamism is a beautiful - and unexpected - Irish contribution to outsiders. Our people are open, straight, funny and often charming. There is a strong storytelling tradition in Ireland which people around the world respond to. You won't spend long standing alone in a Dublin pub, since the locals are curious, cheeky and see few social boundaries.
The influential and loyal worldwide diaspora have a powerful influence back into the country. Eugene is one of these people.
At the same time, the island has suffered greatly from poor British rule, neglect, poverty, famine, civil war, terrorism, massive outward migration, corruption and the sometimes dark influence of the Catholic church.
One of the questions we will explore on the walk is why Ireland's national day - 17th March - is the most-celebrated of any worldwide. The President of the USA, Joe Biden, has Irish roots on both sides of his family. Barack Obama had Irish roots, as did Bill Clinton, and of course, the Kennedys. Eugene is a part of that diaspora, since my parents are from Armagh City and west Belfast. I have spent a total of 2 years in Ireland, because my parents missed the oul' country so much, after moving to London.
Though the walk is in English, Austrians and others are just as welcome to join our adventure.
See you there.
This walk was developed in cooperation with the Irish Embassy, to show you what it means to be Irish and Viennese all at once - and to celebrate international dialogue. No registration is possible - just be there on time.
Join us for the craic and storytelling.
With a dram of Whiskey to close.
More details will be posted soon.