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Derek Scally | Irish Times Korrespondent & Autor

You’ll find it on no map of Dublin but, 22 years ago I discovered the way to the next whiskey bar through the door of 37 Merrion Square. It was the autumn of 1999, I had landed back in Dublin after an Erasmus exchange in Berlin and was suffering German cultural withdrawal symptoms. After a desperate search, I forget how exactly, I found my methadone clinic in the Goethe Institute library, and was overwhelmed by the selection of books, magazines and - bliss - CDs. 
 
In Berlin, I had seen Gisela May perform one of her legendary Brecht-Weill evenings at the Berliner Ensemble. From then on I was hooked by their jaunty, jagged songs. Now, thanks to the Goethe library, I was feeding my habit via a Gisela May recording, then Ute Lemper. Eventually, I was mainlining Lotte Lenya and there was no way back. 
 
The library sparked my love affair with the music of Kurt Weill; Brecht's lyrics unfolded German in my mind in directions I didn't think possible — certainly never offered by 10 years of language lessons. Even today I'm still word-perfect on the no-good Mackie Messer, the downtrodden Pirate Jenny and the moon of Alabama. 
 
My only surprise back then was how much of an insider tip the Goethe Institute library was. None of my fellow German students at DCU knew about it -- nor did TCD German students at an event where I was speaking some years back. 
 
I hope that, post-renovation, the Goethe Institute and its fabulous library are now no longer a secret treasure at the heart of Dublin. With its events and open-door policy  -- not to mention a truly excellent cafe -- the Goethe Institute, and its staff over the years, deserve our thanks for keeping on the cultural lights on Merrion Square. 
 
These days, my insider tip is "Onleihe", the institute's remarkable online offering allowing anyone borrow German publications and watch films. Until you can pop in next to Merrion Square, Onleihe will help you find your way to the next whiskey bar, no matter if you’re in Achill, Arklow or somewhere else entirely. 
 
Derek Scally 

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