Meet James Sharkey: he is the Irish ambassador to Switzerland--home to an estimated 4,000 Irish nationals--and a historian with a passion to let Swiss and Irish know about events that link both countries.[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]
His voice was unmistakably forged in the Derry air, and has lost none of its strength despite his nomadic See nomadic computing. existence as part of the Irish diplomatic corps over the past four decades. Swiss News spoke with this genial man whose erudite er·u·dite
Characterized by erudition; learned. See Synonyms at learned.
[Middle English erudit, from Latin yet conversational style retains more than just a touch of his previous career as a teacher.
As a boy, James Sharkey attended St. Columb's in Derry--a school that counts two Nobel Prize Nobel Prize, award given for outstanding achievement in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, peace, or literature. The awards were established by the will of Alfred Nobel, who left a fund to provide annual prizes in the five areas listed above. recipients in John Hume John Hume (born 18 January 1937) is an Northern Irish politician, founding member of the Social Democratic and Labour Party and co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize, with David Trimble. and Seamus Heaney Seamus Justin Heaney (IPA: /ˈʃeɪməs ˈhiːni/) (born 13 April 1939) is an Irish poet, writer and lecturer who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. He currently lives in Dublin. among its Alumni Illustrissimi.
His interest in the past led him to train as a history teacher, and it was not a quantum leap quantum leap
An abrupt change or step, especially in method, information, or knowledge: "War was going to take a quantum leap; it would never be the same" Garry Wills. from there to sitting the diplomatic service diplomatic service, organized body of agents maintained by governments to communicate with one another. Origins
Until the 15th cent. any formal communication or negotiation among nations was conducted either by means of ambassadors specially exam in 1970.
"I had the honour very early in my career of being the first Irish representative in Moscow. I was Charge d'Affaires char·gé d'af·faires
n. pl. char·gés d'affaires
1. A diplomat who temporarily substitutes for an absent ambassador or minister.
2. and I will never forget the feeling of turning the key in the door that first day, of starting something completely new."
Sharkey presented his papers as the Irish ambassador to Switzerland in September 2007. But this is not his first opportunity to live here, thanks to his work--prior to his Moscow assignment--with the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe in Geneva Geneva, canton and city, Switzerland
Geneva (jənē`və), Fr. Genève, canton (1990 pop. 373,019), 109 sq mi (282 sq km), SW Switzerland, surrounding the southwest tip of the Lake of Geneva. in the early 1970s.
What are the biggest changes he's noticed since his last Swiss sojourn? "The country has become more diverse and is even more developed."
He hopes to bring something unique to Switzerland during his time here--namely a foundation to celebrate the connections between Swiss and Irish.
"I regard myself as someone who always leaves behind something special. In Tokyo I helped organise the first ever St. Patrick's St. Patrick's or Saint Patrick's may refer to:
"In Switzerland I would like to develop a foundation to celebrate the historic connections between the two countries, but one which would allow contemporary cultural, academic and artistic exchanges to take place."
A big part of forging those connections is his latest project, marking the flight of the last of the Irish princes.
The Earls in Switzerland
The Irish earls were forced to flee their lands in Ulster in 1607 as a consequence of losing the Battle of Kinsale against the English. They always hoped to return with foreign allies to reclaim what was theirs, and as part of their journey they crossed the Swiss Alps The Swiss Alps are the central portion of the Alps mountain range that lies within Switzerland.
From west to east, and south of Rhône, Hinterrhein and Inn:
Sharkey says Irish nationals are well represented in the large international communities like Zurich, Basel and Geneva. "Our citizens here will be reaching out to their Swiss hosts as part of the celebrations."
For the earls, who were devoted Catholics, the outcome of their flight was sobering. They never made it back to Ireland and the settlement of their former lands by Protestant colonists from England and Scotland laid the foundation for today's divided island.
Even so, the ambassador says the princes' passage through Switzerland is a good story for Swiss and Irish:
"It resonates with me, coming as I do from the same part of the country as the earls. For those who had never heard of it, it's a fascinating story as there are many romantic and tragic elements to it."
For example, as the Earls crossed over Devil's Bridge For the village and bridge in Wales, see Devil's Bridge, Ceredigion.
Devil’s Bridge is a term applied to two or three dozen ancient bridges, found primarily in Europe. near the St. Gotthard Pass St. Gotthard Pass (Italian: San Gottardo) (el. 2108 m.) is a high mountain pass in Switzerland between Airolo in the canton of Ticino, and Göschenen in the canton of Uri, connecting the northern German-speaking part of Switzerland with the Italian-speaking part, along the on St. Patrick's Day 1608, the pack horse carrying the gold fortune of Earl Hugh O'Neill Hugh O'Neill can refer to one of several persons:
"It is surely only a coincidence that Zurich soon after became an important financial centre," Sharkey adds with a twinkle in his eye.
Peace in Ireland today Ireland Today was a literary magazine that ran from June, 1936 to March, 1938. It was edited by Frank O’Connor and published work by many emerging and established Irish writers of the time, including Brian Coffey, Daniel Corkery, Denis Devlin, Michael MacLaverty, Ewart
The earls' departure was a seminal moment in Irish history, because it created a situation where the English could seize their land and allow its settlement by Protestants from Britain.
The repercussions repercussions npl → répercussions fpl
repercussions npl → Auswirkungen pl of this were felt in Ireland for centuries, he says, and "it is only now that there is hope that this seemingly intractable dispute can be resolved".
That hope stems from the 1998 Good Friday Good Friday, anniversary of Jesus' death on the cross. According to the Gospels, Jesus was put to death on the Friday before Easter Day. Since the early church Good Friday has been observed by fasting and penance. Agreement, which laid the foundation for a power-sharing assembly that meets in Stormont in Belfast.
The road to peace has been a rocky one, but the sea change is reflected in the relationship enjoyed by First Minister Ian Paisley
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP ) and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness James Martin Pacelli McGuinness MP MLA (Irish: Máirtín Mag Aonghusa; born in Derry 23 May 1950) is the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. (Sinn Fein), once bitter enemies.
Speaking at the White House in December, McGuinness said he and Paisley were "set for a new course ... We never had a conversation about anything--not even the weather," until the 26th of March of 2007, he added, but subsequently worked together for seven months without an angry word.
It's a good example of what can be achieved, Sharkey says:
"Other countries around the world which are involved in similar conflicts may be able to draw lessons from this latest hopeful chapter of Irish history."
"On a political level Ireland and Switzerland are both neutral countries which emphasise the peaceful settlement of disputes. Ireland has a proud history of involvement in the United Nations Peace-keeping Force and Switzerland has long been involved in conflict resolution."
Swiss immigrants to Ireland have brought pharmaceutical companies along with smaller horticultural companies based largely in the west and south while, in Switzerland, more than 2,000 people work for affiliates of the Irish Cement Roadstone Holdings group, he says.
"Culturally, Switzerland has been home to the three Irishmen named James. James Joyce was a Swiss resident on three different occasions and is buried in Zurich. The flautist James Galway lives here too. I recently closed an exhibition of the Irish painter based in Basel, James Harte. Traditional Irish music seems to be very popular with people here, with some groups composed entirely of Swiss people playing Irish music."
I asked James Sharkey to select one Swiss memory he personally treasures.
"A highpoint of my time in Switzerland happened quite recently. A few weeks ago I was up in Andermatt teaching my granddaughter how to ski and I cast my mind back to about 1975 when I taught my then young son how to ski in Gstaad. It was immensely satisfying to have had this experience in Switzerland, one I could share with two generations of my family."
And in case you've been wondering throughout the interview, yes, he is a close relative of singer and musician Feargal Sharkey!
The Flight of the Earls
The Flight of the Earls (Irish: Imeacht na nIarlaí) refers to the departure from Ireland on 14 September 1607 of Hugh O'Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone and Rory O'Donnell, 1st Earl of or imeacht na nlarlai
In 1607, the last Irish princes (or Earls to the British) were forced to leave Ireland as a consequence of their loss to the English at the Battle of Kinsale several years earlier. They left in the hope of returning to free their land with the help of their Spanish allies but their luck ran out on two fronts.
First, they landed in France, not Spain. And secondly, during their time at sea, relations between Spain and England improved. The Earls were warmly greeted upon arrival in Milan in 1608 (then under Spanish control), but their hosts were instructed to keep the Earls away from Spain. Rome, not Madrid, became their final destination where the majority perished of illnesses shortly after arrival.
These historic events are another bridge between both countries. In March 1608, the Earls and their entourage of approximately 30 people entered Switzerland, crossing the Rhine at Basel. From there they travelled on to Lucerne Lucerne (lsûrn`), Ger. Luzern (ltsĕrn`), canton (1993 pop. and crossed the Alps before arriving in Bellinzona en route to Milan. It is this part of the journey which will be commemorated throughout March.
"Through these events we will be engaging with people here and allowing Irish and Swiss communities to be part of marking this shared aspect of their history in a festive way," Sharkey says.
The travelling exhibition shows Irish involvement in Switzerland down through the centuries. There are many historical links through Irish missionaries to Switzerland such as Saint Gall and Columbanus. Many important Irish manuscripts, written in Latin, Greek and Old Irish, are housed here, particularly in the city of St Gallen. The exhibition features copies of early medieval manuscripts and objects relating to the Earls.
The Zurich leg of the exhibition will run at the James Joyce Foundation and there will be a tour of the play Making History by Brian Friel "who is one of Ireland's leading dramatists and an expert on finding contemporary lessons from historic events," says Sharkey.
Commemorative events in Switzerland
February 27-March 9, Basel: Flight of the Earls exhibition, concert on March 7, and the play Making History on March 8--all at the Museum Kleines in Klingental
March 13 & 15, Geneva: Making History on March 13. Celebratory dinner on March 15.
March 14-16, Lugano: Workshops, recitals and concerts with some of Ireland's top traditional musicians and dancers
March 15, Bern: Making History
March 16 & March 18-April 2, Zurich: St. Patrick's Day celebration on March 16 in the Carlton Restaurant. Flight of the Earls exhibition at the James Joyce Foundation from March 18-April 2.
March 17, St. Patrick's Day, Andermatt: Commemorative ceremony including a crossing of the Devil's Bridge, plaque unveiling by John Hume and James Sharkey, and Brian Friel's play about the Earls entitled Making History.
For more information visit www.flightoftheearls.ch.