Captivating, Colourful Ireland
Country Meeting, 15 March 2012
It was as close to Ireland as we could be. Sharon Gargin, Slaine Walsh, Sue Kenny and Eithne Renouf, the four Irish ZIWA ladies worked hard together for months to give us the best flavour of their country, and they succeeded.
With enthusiasm and pride for their country, they transported us to that mystical, magical place.
On arriving at the Hottingen Kirchgemeindehaus on this beautiful sunny day, we were greeted by many smiling faces of ZIWA volunteers, with an Apero featuring homemade Irish delicacies that included Smoked Trout Pate on soda bread and Irish cheese and chutney on soda bread. These were accompanied by Irish Baileys and Bushmills whiskey (from one of the oldest distilleries in the world, in Northern Ireland).
We then moved into the main Hall which was cheerfully decorated in Ireland’s colours and the tables were covered with pretty pots of daffodils.
Our Irish ladies greeted us with phrases in Irish (Gaeilge):
Dia dhuit/Dia dhaoibh - good day, the literal translation is God be with you.
Inniu taimid a chur chun cinn gach rud Gaeilge - today we will discuss all things Irish.
Ta suil againn go mbainfigh sibh taithneamh as an trathnona - we hope that you will enjoy the afternoon.
We were then shown a screening of the Riverdance, the very lively traditional Irish stepdance that made us wish we could get up and dance ourselves (especially those of us who had already enjoyed some of that really good Irish whiskey!).
We were then presented with some of Ireland’s long and fascinating history, starting from 6000 BC to present, including the period of the Celts (whose influence still remains), Christianity (which became the dominant religion), The Vikings, The Normans, then on to the Religious Wars in the 16 Century, subjugation by England, The Potato Famine, the Easter rising of 1916 and the Declaration of Independence, and present-day Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The Irish people are well- known for their creativity and liveliness, and we were presented with some of those facets of their culture, such as their great literature, their music, and their myths and legends. In terms of literature, we are all aware of and many of have read such great writers and poets such as Yeats, James Joyce, and Oscar Wilde. Who has not read or heard of Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, or Dracula by Bram Stoker? In the 20th century Ireland produced 4 winners of the Nobel prize for literature: W.B.Yeats in 1923, George Bernard Shaw in 1925, Samuel Beckett in 1969 and Seamus Heaney in 1995.
When one thinks of Ireland, one thinks of music. The first that comes to mind is U2. But Ireland has a very rich heritage of music.
From their traditional music, or tribe music , their foot tapping music with instruments such as the fiddle, baron and bango, all the way to Enya, The Cranberries, Van Morrison and of course U2.
The music of the HARP features in Irish myths and legends. We were treated to this mystical music on an Irish harp by the wonderful harpist, Catherine Rhatigan. Our very talented Irish member, Slaine Walsh, enchanted us with her angelic voice who sang us a beautiful Irish song accompanied by the harp. We were told about Irish myths such as the Leprechaun, Banshee and of course the great legend, Ireland’s patron saint, St. Patrick.
We were also addressed by two guest speakers.
Mr. Fritz Senn of the James Joyce Foundation who gave us some interesting facts about James Joyce life here in Zurich.
Also Mr.Gian Gregori from Tourism Ireland spoke to us about the beautiful places in Ireland one must visit and gave us his website where we can go to for further information www.discoverireland.ch.
The presentations were followed by a very hearty, homemade meal by our Irish ladies.
It featured Beef and Guinness Stew with Champ and 3-bean Casserole topped with Irish Cheese.
Dessert was a choice of a most creamy homemade Baileys Cheese Cake or hot Apple Pie. All this was complemented with Tea/ coffee, Butlers Chocolate AND Irish Whiskey Liqueur!
(Here you will find some of the recipes that were generously shared.)
There was even a lottery for 5 lucky ZIWA ladies with wonderful baskets including Irish delicacies and Irish books.
Finally, we were treated to some very vivacious Irish stepdancing by the Rojahn Academy of Irish Dance in Zurich. It was a fabulous performance.
In closing, this was a wonderful tribute to the beautiful and proud country of Ireland and it is certain that many of us, who have not visited Ireland before, will feel keen to do so in the very near future!
Congratulations and many thanks to all the ladies for making this wonderful day possible.
And here a selection of the enthusiastic comments posted on Facebook:
Audrey Riklin - "Simply wonderful!"
Julia Newton - "Today's Irish Country meeting was wonderful. The presentations, music, food, and dancing all went very well. A great atmosphere. Well done to the organising team!"
Denise van der Merwe - "One of the best Country meetings ever! Well done organisers."
pictures by Cassandra B., Ann D., Julia N.
And the comments received so far:
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