Episode 12 Hiberno Goethe: Hugo Hamilton
Hugo Hamilton was our guest on this special edition of Hiberno Goethe. To celebrate 60 years of the Goethe-Institut Irland we were delighted to be joined by Hugo with a live audience in the Goethe-Institut library.
Hugo first tells us about Speckled People and about his upbringing, his mother who came here as an au pair, and met and married his father, an ardent Irish language revivalist. We hear about growing up through Irish and German in Glasthule: “We were called Nazis and put on trial…the only places where I didn’t feel that were in Germany where the German past never came up and it was never mentioned in the Gaeltacht in Connemara, I felt very comfortable there and then we came back to Dublin and we were called Nazis again.” He tells how this made him feel like an outsider, and how his earlier books, like Headbanger, are about outsiders. He often felt like this, reading unusual Austrian novels by Thomas Bernhardt which weren't really a good conversation piece at Irish parties in the 1970s.
Of course he talks about Heinrich Böll’s Irish Journal and the similarities between Böll’s Irish experience and his own mother’s, experiencing Ireland as post-war Rhineland Catholics. We hear about artist Joseph Beuys’ work in the North of Ireland during the troubles and Hamilton’s new book The Pages about the life of Joseph Roth, which he reads from.
Episode 11 Hiberno Goethe: Arnd Witte
In this episode Ciarán chats to his former lecturer and Professor of Modern Languages Dr. Arnd Witte. We first hear about Arnd's origins in Hiddigwardermoor where the one-teacher school had no running water. The conversation turns to the origin of Arnd's love of the English language coming not from literature but from Jim Morrison and the Rolling Stones.
Arnd lectured in Nigeria, where he met his wife. He saw a play there by Wole Soyinka, the first black African Nobel prize winner, and Soyinka himself was there. He is interested that some African commentators believe that the English language is a cultural time bomb in Africa, with it marginalising local languages and even pushing them to extinction. Arnd talks about his children being part Nigerian, part German, and part Irish and having a fluid cultural identity. The importance that language plays in cultural understanding and identity is a key theme in Arnd’s research.
Ciarán and Arnd chat about the Catholic Church’s influence in Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth when they were there together in the early 1990s, how Arnd replaced a lecturer from the DDR. Reflecting on his many years working at 3rd level he laments changes that have brought about a type of commodification of education.
Arnd reads from Hugo Hamilton and Georg Trakl.
Grünkohl mit Pinkel (curly kale with a special sausage), only available in the area around Oldenburg and Bremen in winter and often served on what is known as "Kohlfahrt".
And Jever Pilsenser (from the town of Jever) to quench the thirst.
Ton, Steine, Scherben: Keine Macht für niemand
Udo Lindenberg: Cello
Hannes Wader: Es ist an der Zeit (based on Eric Bogle’s The Green Fields of France)
Christy Moore: Ordinary Man
Uwe Timm: Morenga
Peter O. Chotjewitz: Der dreißigjährige Friede
Anna Burns: Milkman
Hugo Hamilton: The Speckled People
Wole Soyinka: Aké: The Years of Childhood
Chinua Achebe: Things fall apart
Georges-Arthur Goldschmidt: Der versperrte Weg
Yu Ming Is Ainm Dom
Episode 10 Hiberno Goethe: Mia Gallagher
This episode features Dublin writer and performer Mia Gallagher. Graduating at the time of recession in the late 1980s Mia is of a generation that was still emigrating and Dublin city a much more mono cultural place to live than we know it today. Having German roots allowed Mia to be in a position to observe and process life through another lens which fed into her creativity as an artist.
We hear about the journey of Mia’s paternal Oma/Grandmother, Liese Gerhard, who moved to Kilkenny in the 1930s to teach gymnastics at a girls school and a couple of years later marrying her husband. Mia also tells the story of Liese voting during the Nazi era and later living a social life in Waterford. The house in which Liese grew up at the seatown Warnemünde remained a place to return to for the family holding fond memories for Mia.
Mia tells us about her time as an au-pair in Freiburg and talks about speaking German with Germans who are too quick to use English, and ending up in a kind of ‘language stand-off’, with both parties determined to continue in their non-native language. We hear about a fondness for the Irish language despite her teacher, former minister Moira Geoghgan Quinn, calling her dunce at school.acting. Performing and failing helped Mia in her writing, to understand characters inside out, the layers of consciousness and unconsciousness.
Mia reads the title story Shift of her short story collection, an excerpt of her second novel Beautiful pictures of the lost homeland and an excerpt of Altes Land by German author Dörte Hansen.
Episode 9 Hiberno Goethe: Jan Wagner
This episode features Jan Wagner, a north German literary critic, poet and translator who returned to Ireland at different times of his life- for travelling, studying at Trinity College, working as an artist in residence at the Böll Cottage on Achill island, reciting poetry in the bogs of Connemara.
In Germany, Jan brings us to some lesser travelled destinations by Irish people: the Baltic islands of Ruegen and Hiddensee and the countryside of Uckermark in Brandenburg where one can go hiking in the company of two donkeys, as long as you adapt your pace to that of the animals.
Jan’s passion for poetry extends to listening to poetry in other languages as well as translating the work of some artists that have written in English. Writing is a very curious back and forth that involves critical thinking along with free wheeling; a joyful game of playing with language and a slow process of editing. Cutting away line after line; a poem can be left with only three lines that carry much more than the thirty lines written ahead. Everything is possible, you can expose your soul or use poetry as a means of a great masquerade.
Jan recites the poem The Owl, Part One by Matthew Sweany, one of the artists whose work Jan has translated, debating words and meaning over food and wine in Berlin Kreuzberg.
We hear Jan Wagner reciting also his own poetry: Teebeutel and Essay on Soap.
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).
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!
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.
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.
Siobháns neue CD ist hier erhältlich; einige der Stücke sind in der Episode zu hören
Über die frühe irische Harfe
Videos von Konzerten, Informationen und Workshops zur frühen irischen Harfe:
Für diejenigen, die die frühe irische Harfe erlernen möchten
Hier Siobháns verschiedene historische Harfen und Kollaborationen
Siobháns Sommerfestival (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 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.
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 at 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.
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.’
· 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.
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 3 Hiberno Goethe: John Scott
This episode features John Scott, choreographer and artistic director of Irish Modern Dance Theatre.
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
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
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.
Hugo Hamilton: The Speckled People; Heinrich Böll: 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
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.
Intro Episode Hiberno Goethe: Oya Demirci
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.