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Podcast Hiberno Goethe

Logo Hiberno Goethe German Irish Conversations© Goethe-Institut


This Podcast dives into the many colours of arts, language and life across cultures. St. Pauli fan and former Düsseldorfer Ciarán Murray and his guests explore the connecting moments of German and Irish life. What do musicians, dancers, artists, writers pick up from either culture? How are they inspired and enriched by the other? For all listeners who like to go and think beyond borders.

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All Episodes

Episode 8 Hiberno Goethe: Emily Kraft

This episode features Emily Kraft, 19 years old Irish international football player who is at home in Sutton, Dublin North as well as in Gernsheim, close to Frankfurt am Main. Emily is a successful and ambitious footballer with Eintracht Frankfurt, who is also currently studying for her Abitur (German equivalent of Leaving Certificate).

Emily Kraft NearFM Born to an Irish mother and German Austrian father we hear about Emily's upbringing in rural Gernsheim where she grew up with her twin sister, brother and grandparents on their farm with horses, wild pigs and a golf course. Regular stays in Sutton with her family in Ireland and going for runs along the seafront to Howth add to her affection to the country Emily sees as her home. 
We hear about Abi Mottowoche, the last week in school in which students dress up each day with a different theme from Genderswap to Pyjama Party, marking the last days in school life in a novel way before sitting the final exams. Being a native speaker doesn’t always mean you get top marks in English at school, and sometimes it can make teachers nervous.
Having played for Germany and Ireland is not the end goal for Emily who looks to progress further in her football career. Good luck Emily! 
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Episode 7 Hiberno Goethe: Siobhán Armstrong

This episode features Siobhán Armstrong, one of Europe’s foremost historical harpists. In the late 1980’s after finishing college Siobhán moved to Sindelfingen, a little town close to Stuttgart, to start a harp department in the newly built Music School. 

Siobhan Armstrong NearFM Without a word of German at the time but lots of excitement, Siobhán taught children the harp who in turn helped her to learn the language. Siobhán feels like she grew up in Germany and got eingedeutscht, with some of the characteristics like punctuality and environmental consciousness staying with her until today; as well as her liking for some of the local food, like Grauburgunder Wein and braised red cabbage, but not the regional Spätzle.

Siobhán and Ciarán talk about different harps, influences and eras bringing the listeners to a variety of historic and cultural places from Ormond Castle at Carrick on Suir to Kilkenny castle and the Highlands in Scotland; Jury’s Irish Cabaret in Dublin and the Chamber Festival in Ernen in the Swiss Alps. 

To understand the harp there is a need to understand the medieval world, the Gaelic Chieftains, how they lived, what was important to them. 

Siobhán refers to the losing of harp music, after the Flight of the Earls, as a cultural genocide as it was a deliberate ploy of wiping out the language and culture by the Tudors who had A compartmentalised mindset - extremely civilised in their own renaissance world but when dealing with anybody that they consider does not belong in that world then they are the savages and eliminated.

Siobhán and Ciarán highlight that the Cruitire, the harper, was the third most important person on the Gaelic court after the King and the filler, the poet- not a judge or politician! Harpists had land, wealth, a carrier for their instrument and didn't have to do anything except their art form. 

Episode on Spotify

This episode features two pieces of music played the harp and here is a list of some of the references made by Siobhán: 

Siobhán’s website:

Buy Siobhán's new CD here, some tracks of which Ciarán played on the podcast:

More information about the early Irish harp: 

Videos of concerts, talks and workshops featuring early Irish harp: 

If anyone wants to learn the early Irish harp:

Hear Siobhán’s different historical harps and musical collaborations here:

Siobhán’s summer festival here (ONLINE in 2021):

Episode 6 Hiberno Goethe: Gerard Byrne

In this episode Ciarán meets visual artist Gerard Byrne who teaches at the Städelschule in Frankfurt, and the conversation rambles from Brecht to Beckett and Kasper König. 

Gerard Byrne private Gerard and Ciarán talk about the Städelschule and its place as one of the most influential art schools in Germany, and that having a collection of internationally renowned colleagues makes it an exciting place to work. They enjoy a typical Irish perspective, where cities like Copenhagen and Frankfurt are seen as ‘continental’ and therefore similar, because traditionally Ireland has been so Anglo-centric, and our models often come from the UK.  On travel, they also note the difference in Germany train travel and where it can bring you to other interesting cities quickly and easily, and you just don’t feel like that in Dublin.  
They chat about Gerard not being a natural Germano-phile, but perhaps still with an early appreciation for Kraftwerk, as general left-field entity, but he does understand Germany as having a central role in the development of contemporary arts in the 20th Century.  They wonder at the fact that visual art enjoys a more prominent place in Germany than in Ireland and the various socio-political reasons behind that, and Dokumenta in Kassel as a celebration of the importance of art in Germany, where even the taxi drivers want to talk about art.

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Gerard is currently working with students from the Städelschule in the Goethe-Institute Irland’s Return Gallery for the 60th anniversary celebrations, so look out for that.
Celebration of Joseph Beuys - Post-War Germany’s most important artist.  
A current exhibition at the Stadelmuseum devoted to Max Beckmann - one of Germany’s most important Weimar artists. Beckmann taught at the school before being dismissed by the Nazi’s. Here’s a painting from the museum collection he really likes.

And for some German food recommendation have a look the Münster food Market: Wochenmarkt Münster: Der Film
Dokumenta is an exhibition of contemporary art which takes place every five years in Kassel.
Gerard’s work is currently on view at the Kerlin Gallery.

Episode 5 Hiberno Goethe: Don Morgan

This episode features Donnchadh Morgan, barrister at law, son of the late Dermot Morgan and German mother Susanne Morgan (nee Garmatz). Donnchadh tells us of his experience of his German Irish cultural world, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant from his grandparents' stories of leaving Silesia and Pomerania to his mother’s journey from Hamburg to the Dublin Horse Show, where she met his father. 

Don Morgan NearFM Ciarán and Donnchadh talk about some of the changes in Ireland; from the grim 1980's with no real coffee, to the schickimicki (fancy) present; the concept of the Wutbürger (the angry German citizen) when something ends up as a Schlamassel (cock-up) like the delayed construction of the Elbphilharmonie; how Germans take the world seriously but can be very loyal and funny, and even romantic, in a 19th Century kind of way. 

Feeling European and with the apron strings ripped from Ireland as the UK exits the EU, Donnchadh sees a lot of opportunities for stronger ties between Ireland and Germany ‘We gave them Christianity, we might as well give them more butter.’    

Episode 5 - Spotify

·  Golo Mann: Erinnerungen und Gedanken. Eine Jugend in Deutschland. Thomas Mann’s son considering Germany as it slipped into totalitarianism. One of the few books my grandfather actively recommended. Also: Thomas Mann: Buddenbrooks.

·  Stefan Zweig: Sternstunden der Menschheit („Decisive Moments in History“) – Admittedly Zweig is Austrian, but this book was ever present on my grandparents’ shelf.

·  Album: Die Mathematik der Anna Depenbusch (best song: “Tim liebt Tina”). In fact, anything by Anna Depenbusch. She exemplifies the German overlooked ability to be both playful and profound with the German language.

·  Claudia Rusch: Meine Freie Deutsche Jugend; engaging and often funny memoir of growing up in East Germany. 

·  The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Rudolf Erich Raspe); Erich Kästner did a great retelling of these tall tales.

·  Heinrich Böll: Irish Journal/Irisches Tagebuch – the book is more about Germany than Ireland, and still informs how many Germans see Ireland. Some Irish people find his representations of Ireland as problematic, but I think exemplifies a naïve fascination with Ireland that exists even today. 

·  Hugo Hamilton: The Speckled People. The conflict of identity for people of my parentage has never been matched in prose as in Hamilton’s poignant (and triggering!) memoir. 

·  Walter Kempowski: Alles umsonst/All for Nothing; Günther Grass: Im Krebsgang/Crabwalk; Svenja O’Donnell: Inge’s War. All dealing with the expulsion of Germans from east of the river Oder at the end of World War 2 in very different ways. The latter is relatively new and on my list for this year. 

Episode 4 Hiberno Goethe: Ulrike Gasser

This month Ciarán is joined by Ulrike Gasser, the newly appointed director of the Goethe-Institut Irland and now proud Dublin Northsider.

Ulrike Gasser NearFM Originally from Munich, Ulrike identifies with and appreciates many other cultures, especially the Middle East.  Having worked with artists in Ankara and Istanbul she learned to understand and speak Turkish which Ulrike describes as very poetic with many symbols and pictures. They chat about some particularities of Bavaria; about Turkish Germany, and how the Middle East has been and still is often portrayed inaccurately, the joy of books and other artforms and the way Germans celebrate Christmas with the Christkind and Krampus (bad Santa). 
Ulrike reads a section by Heinrich Boell, the post WWII author whose work started the vibe about Ireland in Germany.

Episode 4 on Spotify

Episode 3 Hiberno Goethe: John Scott

This episode features John Scott, choreographer and artistic director of Irish Modern Dance Theatre.

John Scott NearFM  As a son of artistic parents and being exposed to the Abbey Theatre from a young age, John’s love for dance started after being introduced to Kurt Jooss’s masterpiece The Green Table.
He talks about great dancers, choreographers and musicians and the influence they had on his life.  
John remembers his first time in Germany in the early 1980s and being amazed by the importance that is afforded to culture in Germany; the beautiful dance spaces, wonderful theatres, opera houses, and bookshops. 
Ciarán and John talk about the challenges and joy of becoming a dancer and later on a Heldentenor. They chat about German films, books, food, and the different landscapes in the German countryside.  John recites a part of Beethoven’s only opera Fidelio in which Fidelio rescues her husband Florestan from a prison. Having a close alignment to the German language, John describes it as both spiritual and rich as well as dark in some of its more menacing sounds. 
We hear about the challenges of COVID restrictions in the dance world, how dancers can no longer touch each other during performances, but mask wearing has its place in dance. For John it’s not all negative, it teaches him to look at obstacles in a different way for going forward in future

Episode 3 on Spotify

1 - link to my solo, ‘Heroes’: which I mention in the interview 
1a - Dances for Inside and Outside: my Pandemic choreography
2 - The White Piece (one of my works with Survivors of Torture  
3 - It is better to, choreographed by German choreographer Thomas Lehmen for IMDT
4 - Gott, Welch dunkel hier! Aria from Beethoven’s Fidelio sung my me
5 - Dark, Netflix German series 
6 - Pina Bausch - seminal German choreographer
7 - William Forsythe, Seminal US choreographer based for many years in Frankfurt/Dresden 
8 - Dance On Ensemble: important Berlin based ensemble 
9 - Susanne Linke - seminal German choreographer 
10 - Joint Adventures - important German dance production agency based in Munich
11 - Fassbinder Foundation: Foundation for German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder
12 - Bauhaus Movement history
13 - Beethoven - article from The Guardian
14 - Wagner - Beyrouth Festival
15 - William Forsythe: One Flat Thing (excerpt filmed at Bockenheimer Depot, Frankfurt Main)
16 - William Forsythe: The Loss of Small Detail finale
17 - Pina Bausch: Sacre du Printemps extract 
18 - Introduction to the work of Heiner Muller
19 - Wagner: Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde, Conducted by Daniel Barenboim, Directed by Heiner Muller
20 - Wagner: Ride of the Walkures

Episode 2 Hiberno Goethe: German Ambassador Deike Potzel

Deike Potzel and Ciarán Murray NearFM
This month Ciarán is talking with the German Ambassador Deike Potzel, who, ever since her inter-railing in Europe shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, had an interest in Irish people, history and even its language. They talk about the Irish border, the ambassador's growing up in East Berlin and the rise of the far right. We hear how stereotypes of Germans seem to be the same in Dublin, Singapore or Tehran and about the importance of confronting our past and need for open debates for cultural understanding. 
They talk about the beauty of the Baltic sea, especially the car free picturesque island Hiddensee, Brittas Bay in Wicklow and many great German and Irish writers that inspire Deike, some of them enjoyed particularly with a glass of wine. 
While she doesn't miss much specifically from Germany, certainly not Sülze, but maybe cherry jam, East Berlin and the DDR will always be an important part of her identity.

Episode 2 on Spotify

Hugo Hammilton: The Speckled People; Heinrich Boell: Irish Journal; Stan Nadolny: The Discovery of Slowness; Daniel Kehlmann: Measuring the world, (a wonderful book about Alexander von Humboldt, won many awards, made into a movie); Daniel Kehlmann: Tyll (translated; about Till Eulenspiegel and the 30year-war in Europe); Jenny Erpenbeck: Go, Went, Gone; Julie Zeh; Dörte Hansen: This House is mine; Ferdinand von Schirach: Terror (and many other crime stories); Bernhard Schlink: The Reader, made into a movie with Kate Winslet); Lutz Seiler: Kruso; Eugen Ruge: In times of Fading Light; Wladimir Kaminer: many, many books,; Uwe Timm: The invention of curried sausage; Peter Schneider: The Walljumper; a guy going back and forth between East and West Berlin in times of the wall)

Some classics – but from the 20th century:
Hans Fallada: Alone in Berlin, wonderful story about a couple in resistance fight to Hitler)
Siegfried Lenz: The German lesson
Christa Wolf: Kassandra (and others)
Stefan Heym: any of his books
Walter Kempowski: any of his books

Die Ärzte; Die Toten Hosen; Paul van Dyck; Seed; The Boss Hoss; Udo Lindenberg; Herbert Groenemeyer; Marius Mueller-Westernhagen; Annenmaykantereit; Nena; Silbermond; Juli; Die Fantastischen Vier; Sarah Connor; Mark Forster

Episode 1 Hiberno Goethe: Sharon Carty

Sharon Carty at NearFM ©NearFM Ciarán chats with mezzo soprano singer Sharon Carty. We first hear how she went from PE teacher to opera singer and about her growing up with country music, Willie Nelson and ‘Wailing’ Jennings! They chat about encountering German at school, and the grammar, the ‘Der, die, das, die’, and how her love of the language grew, especially as she began to sing opera in German. They drift into talking about performing, and the amazing frocks and making sure that you always have a spare dress. They talk about how her experience of living in Vienna and Frankfurt differs from life in Ireland, and about how opera is perceived differently in these countries. Sharon tells how some of the Lieder (the opera songs) come from poetry, sometimes very moving poems, and she reads a beautiful poem Winterabend, by Karl Gottfried von Leitner.

Episode 1 on Spotify

Intro Episode Hiberno Goethe: Oya Demirci

Oya and Ciarán NearFM Ciarán Murray speaks to Goethe-Institut Irland head librarian Oya Demirci. They chat about music, food, dancing, books, James Joyce of course, and the inspiration and impact of living across different cultures. Oya talks about her idea for the series, and the plans for upcoming guests who have one foot in German culture and the other foot in Irish culture.

Intro Episode on Spotify