Fleischmann Centenary Celebrations
Fleischmann Centenary Celebrations
Remarks by the Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Micheál Martin T.D.,
at the opening of two exhibitions
Landscape Paintings from the Artists’ Colony of Dachau 1890-1920
Three Generations of Fleischmanns
Cork Public Museum, Friday, 9 July 2010
The Fleischmann centenary celebrations provide us with a welcome opportunity to honour the contribution made to the arts and to Ireland by Professor Aloys Fleischmann, to renew the links between Cork and his native city of Dachau and to celebrate the shared heritage of Ireland and Germany.
Our earliest recorded links go back to the 7th century when Irish saints and scholars such as Kilian and Colman travelled to southern Germany, including parts of Bavaria where the Fleischmann family originated. Indeed, the University of Würzburg still has texts in Irish dating from that time.
About 4,000 destitute Lutherans from southern Germany were settled in Limerick and Tipperary at the beginning of the 18th century and when Trinity College Dublin established a Chair of German Studies in 1776, it was the first of its kind in Britain or Ireland. Today, German studies are strong in Irish universities, including in UCC. This is hardly surprising since Germany is our fourth largest export market and second most important source of foreign direct investment.
Perhaps, one of the most significant events in our bilateral relationship happened exactly twenty years ago. Just months after the fall of the Berlin Wall a special European summit was called to consider the implications of the re-unification of Germany, east and west. Ireland held the Presidency of the European Community – as it was then – and we wanted to do everything we could to facilitate German re-unification. The summit was held in Dublin and it was agreed there that the re-unification should take place under a European roof and that discussions on political union should be launched.
In April I met my German colleague, the Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, in Berlin to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of this significant moment in our shared heritage. Guido Westerwelle recalled that the summit in Dublin was a milestone in the re-unification process and said that “Germany will not forget what Ireland did for re-unification.”
But no account of our common heritage would be complete without an acknowledgement of the enduring legacy left by the professor, composer, musicologist and campaigner, Aloys Fleishmann.
The numerous exhibitions and publications marking the Fleischmann centenary make it possible to document in a lasting manner the significant contribution made by his family to the cultural life of the city and the country.
Today we are opening two exhibitions which explore the family’s roots in Dachau and the three generations of the family which have had such a significant impact on our lives.
Much can and will be said about how the family integrated into the life of the city. The process of integration was swift – the arts are good builders of bridges. The Fleischmanns were exceptionally gifted.
Aloys Senior was writing hymns when he was twelve. Aloys Junior, whose centenary we are celebrating this year, was born in Munich but his first school, Saint Ita’s, was an Irish-speaking kindergarten. Indeed, some of his music was composed under the distinctly un-German pseudonym of Muiris Ó Ronáin. The family’s friends included Terence MacSwiney, Harry Clarke, Daniel Corkery, Seán O’Faoláin, Frank O’Connor and Seán O’Riada.
It is gratifying to see the impressive list of events marking the Fleischmann centenary this year and encouraging to note that they are taking place right across Ireland and also in the UK, the United States, China and Germany.
Culture is at its best when it is shared and at its most effective when it includes a level of dialogue and engagement between the people who appreciate it. This is certainly the case with the 113 organisations participating in this year’s events.
The landscape paintings on view today are a reminder of the artistic heritage of Fleischmann’s native city, Dachau, and in the same spirit of dialogue and engagement an exhibition of Irish landscape painting will be opened in Dachau in October by Dan Mulhall, Ireland’s Ambassador to Germany.
A musical exchange is already underway with the visit to Cork in April of Dachau’s Liedertafel Choir and the exchange will continue in the autumn with a return visit to Dachau by the Cork School of Music’s Fleischmann Choir where they will perform Fleischmann works with the Liedertafel Choir.
I am honored to serve as a patron of the Fleischmann centenary and to declare these exhibitions open. Music and art are international languages and the Fleischmann legacy is that in a multi-cultural world we can come to a mutual understanding when we share our values and share our cultural heritage. The Fleischmann message is that the best way to make friends and keep them is through our arts and our culture.