By Vice Chairman Choe Nam-suk of The Korea Post media
“We see the relationship between Ireland and Korea growing in strength--in trade and investment, in education and tourism and in our young people living and working in each other’s countries.” So said Ambassador Julian Clare of Ireland in Seoul at a reception he hosted at the Conrad Hotel in Seoul on March 18, 2019 on the occasion of the St. Patrick’s Day on March 18, 2019.
It was also a special occasion to introduce the visiting Irish Minister Josepha Madigan for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Ambassador Clare said, “I am glad that Minister Madigan has had the opportunity to meet with the people, Irish and Korean, who are making this happen.”
The party was attended by many Korean and international guests, as well as the ambassadors and other senior members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps with their spouses. There also were Korean and other international guests, who included Korean media representatives, whence Vice Chairman Choe Nam-suk of The Korea Post media (publisher of 3 English, 2 Korean news organs) attended to cover the important event for Korea and Ireland.
Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Clare:
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted that you can join us for the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.
Every year, at St. Patrick’s Day, our Prime Minister and Government Ministers travel to countries around the world meeting our diaspora and strengthening relationships with key partner countries.
I am delighted to introduce Ireland’s Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan.
The fact that a senior Government Minister has come to Korea underlines the importance to Ireland of its relationship with Korea, not least given how busy the Government is in preparing for the departure from the European Union, in whatever form it takes, of the United Kingdom, our nearest neighbor and oldest friend.
Minister Madigan is a first term Member of Parliament in Ireland who was rapidly promoted to become a senior Minister in the Government.
Minister Madigan has given a huge impetus to the promotion of Irish culture globally – as part of Ireland’s plans to double our global footprint by 2025 – and has also made strong contributions to the issues of gender equality, heritage and creativity, as well as, drawing on her twenty years of legal practice, speaking on important matters of constitutional change.
We see the relationship between Ireland and Korea growing in strength - in trade and investment, in education and tourism and in our young people living and working in each other’s countries.
I am glad Minister Madigan has had the opportunity to meet with the people, Irish and Korean, who are making this happen.
It gives me great pleasure to introduce Minister Madigan.
Excerpts from the speech of Minister Madigan:
Ambassador, distinguished guests, members of the Irish Community and friends of Ireland, I am delighted to be here with you in Seoul to celebrate Ireland’s National Day.
“Is lá specialta é Lá Fhéile Pádraig in Éirinn agus thar fudd na cruinne. Is léir go bhfuil nasc ag gach duine leis an tír ag am an féile seo.”
Translated, that means, St. Patrick’s Day is a time of special celebration in Ireland and throughout the world. It is a day in which we like to feel that everyone has a connection to Ireland.
This is my first visit to Korea and I am enormously impressed by the dynamism and drive that I see here.
The Irish Government is committed to building a stronger and more vibrant relationship with the Asian region and Korea is a key partner for us in this respect.
I am happy to say that I am the fifth Irish Government Minister to visit here in the past two years. We had two Ministerial trade missions in Agriculture and Education in late 2017. My colleague, the Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, visited this time last year. We were delighted that Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon visited Ireland last May.
Our trade in both directions is growing rapidly, with total annual trade reaching over €2.5 billion.
More and more of our young people are getting to experience each other’s country through the very successful Working Holiday Programme, and I know that many of these young people retain their interest in, and connection with, their host country long after they have come home.
Our leading universities are accelerating their cooperation, and more and more Koreans are coming to Ireland to learn English. I look forward to attending an important symposium in Sejong tomorrow led by Trinity College Dublin, my own alma mater.
We are both outward looking nations, committed to the United Nations, and to an open global trading system.
Now more than ever, countries like Korea and Ireland, that are committed to the UN system, to human rights, to free and open trading, and to the cause of nuclear non-proliferation need to work together.
For its part, Ireland remains a committed member of the European Union. We have benefitted enormously from our membership and I believe that our future prosperity and well-being lies within the EU.
At the same time we are committed to maintaining our links with the UK, our closest neighbour, including in the framework of its new future relations with the EU.
St Patrick’s Day is a special day for those of Irish birth and heritage, and it is an opportunity to renew the important links between Ireland and the Irish abroad.
I would also like to pay tribute this evening to the Columban Order, some of whose members are here tonight, both on the centenary of their order but also on the distinguished contribution they have made in Korea. It was a remarkable, and entirely deserved, honour when the late PJ McGlinchey, who passed away last April, after more than sixty years of extraordinary service to the people of Jeju, became the fourth person, last June, to be granted Korean citizenship, posthumously. We see that service continuing today and let me pay tribute to the inspirational work of Sr. Geraldine Ryan in the Myung-do welfare centre for people with disabilities in Mokpo. Let me also pay tribute to Kevin O’Rourke on his being awarded yet further accolades and prizes in his distinguished literary career in Korea.
This visit has also been a great opportunity for me to experience the way in which new Irish communities are flourishing.
I know that Korea hosts a number of successful GAA clubs, and that a number of players from the Seoul Gaels are here tonight. I cannot let this moment pass without paying tribute to your continued success in bringing back the silverware from the Asian Gaelic Games in Bangkok last November for a second year running. You and your teammates’ continued success is a testament to the hard work, dedication and commitment which we often see exhibited among Irish people across the world.
It also shows that no matter how far Irish people move around the world, they continue to retain a deep and abiding connection to their Irish identity - whether through sport, culture or the many other facets of Irish life and culture.
As the well-known Irish actress Victoria Smurfit said:
If you’re Irish, it doesn’t matter where you go – you’ll find family.
Lastly, I would like to thank everyone here for continuing to foster stronger links with Korea, a relationship that we want to see grow stronger every year.
Go raibh maith agaibh. Thank you. KamSah HamKneeDa.