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.
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.
BA student, University of Debrecen
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.