Celebrating Polish Independence

The Clare Champion,
Friday, November 8, 2013

To commemorate Polish Independence Day, the emerging Clare Polish Irish Association, in co-operation with the Clare Museum and Clare Immigrant Support Centre, has planned a social event this Saturday afternoon.

The event, from 2pm to 4 pm at the museum, will be opened jointly by the Mayor of Ennis, Mary Coote-Ryan and the Polish Consul for Clare and Limerick, Patrick O’Sullivan. The event will include children’s activities, music and refreshments.

“We are delighted to be celebrating Polish Independence here in Ennis, which is home to many of us now. This event will give us an opportunity to meet and share our culture and rich heritage, as well as mark an important day in Polish history,” said one of the organisers, Renata Krasniqi.

According to John Rattigan, museum curator, “The hosting of this event at Clare Museum is a direct outcome of our recent very successful Festival of Poland. The Polish community is now the largest ethnic group in Clare and it is only fitting that we should facilitate this event”.

In recent months, a group of local Polish community members have come together to form the Clare Polish-Irish Association. The purpose of the group is to bring Polish people together and to help the Polish community to integrate with Irish and other communities in the county. All are welcome to the event.

Meanwhile, a photographic exhibition showcasing images of Poland has been launched in the foyer of the County Museum, the first time that the travelling exhibition has been shown in Ireland.

The exhibition, Polish Crossroads, forms part of Clare’s first Polish Festival, held at the museum in recent weeks.

According to festival organiser Jakub Kacprzak, “Since 2004, Irish society has changed with lots of emigrants arrived in Ireland, most of them from Poland. According to the last census which took place in 2011, there are over 125,000 Poles living in Ireland, making the Polish language the second most used language in our country”.

Polish Crossroads is a result of open-air photo sessions organised by the Folkowisko Association in 2012 in Gorajec, a small village in eastern Poland.

Fifteen photographers took part in a two-day event capturing images of Polish nature, landscapes, monuments and culture. The purpose of their work is to show the multicultural heritage of Poland.

During the past year, the exhibition has travelled across Poland and now, for the first time, it will be shown in Ireland.

The photographs display the atmosphere of the Borderline Culture Festival, Folkowisko.

The festival takes place every year on the second weekend of July in Gorajec, which is in Podkarpacie province in Eastern Poland near the Ukrainian border. The festival lasts three days and aims to promote multicultural tradition of the Mites region, while dismantling stereotypes and educating visitors.

Folkowisko combines storytelling with music, walking tours, car and bicycle rides, canoeing, art workshops, movies and a wide array of games.

The Folkowisko Association is gathering fans of the Polish folk culture from all over Europe. Some of its members live in Ennis and they gave a talk about the multicultural past of Poland in the Clare Museum earlier in October during the Polish Festival.

The Polish Festival marked the county’s first celebration of Polish heritage, history and culture.

Among the free public events hosted at Clare Museum were lectures on Poland’s World War II experience, film screenings, and exhibition of Polish modern art and a lecture by a Polish descendent of Clare people shipwrecked in the Baltic Sea during the 17th century.

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