It gives me great pleasure to extend my warmest wishes to Easy Milano readers on the occasion of St. Patrick’s Day 2017.
2016 was an important year for the Embassy as Ireland celebrated the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, which led to Irish independence, with a year-long programme of events at home and abroad. In addition to organising a ceremony to mark the start of the Rising, the Embassy was proud to support a series of commemorative projects initiated by Irish people and friends of Ireland here in Italy. These included an academic conference entitled ‘Writing the Rising,’ an ‘Irish in Italy’ exhibition in the Italian National Library and a special 1916 edition of the annual Irish Film Festa.
The Irish Film Festa, now in its tenth year, continues to provide a showcase for the great talent, variety and creativity that is so clearly evident in Irish cinema at the moment. I am very grateful to all of our collaborators who give freely of their time and talents to promote a broader understanding and appreciation of Ireland’s history and culture in Italy, be it in the fields of cinema, music, literature or sport.
Many people will be aware that the links between Ireland and Italy stretch back many years. What may be surprising to some, however, is that the person credited with having St. Patrick’s Day officially recognised in the Church calendar, thus giving impetus for the celebration we share today, was Luke Wadding, an Irish Franciscan friar who settled in Rome in 1618 and founded both the Irish Pontifical College and St. Isidore’s College in the city. Indeed it was during his time in Rome that he campaigned for and was successful in getting recognition for 17 March as the Feast of St. Patrick.
This year, as the world faces many challenges, we Irish along with our Italian friends should remember how fortunate and proud we are to be part of the European Union, the greatest example of friendly relations between free democratic countries anywhere in the world and at any time in history. We should recall that the European Union has brought peace and prosperity to our continent and that it brings its decent values to bear on every significant international issue; and that it has made Ireland and Italy no longer just distant friends but close partners. We recall also the essential role the EU has played as the context for the transformed relations between Ireland and Britain and for the Northern Ireland peace process. And we should remember in a special way on St Patrick’s Day why the European Flag is flown alongside the Tricolour outside public buildings in Ireland and outside Irish Embassies all around the world.
In this spirit, I wish all Easy Milano readers here in Italy a happy and peaceful St. Patrick’s Day
Ambassador of Ireland to Italy