“You are welcome to Cork!” – This was the clear message of the Deputy Mayor of Cork in his speech at the beginning of the PolskaEire festival on Saturday, 28th.of March. He added: “Cork has always opened its harbour for people from outside the country, Polish included”. Most of the people participating in the festival got that welcoming feeling on this day. Those who spoke at the beginning on the stage, encouraged the Polish people to get involved in community work, even in politics. The Polish consul said in her speech: “I am proud of being Polish in Ireland!” Voyteck Bialek, one of Together-Razem director's reminded that there are people out there who feel lonely and who need support. He also recognized the work of many volunteers involved in making this event possible.
In the course of the day, a school girl from Polish School in Cork read a letter about life in her new home in Ireland, differences between her old and new country from a perspective of a child.
Dr. Gabriel Doherty from UCC held a lecture about what Ireland and Poland have in common in history around the early 1980s of last century: Both countries started diplomatic relations in 1973 when Ireland became part of the European Community. Although the relationship to other Eastern-European countries at the period of the Cold War had to be clearly defined, Poland was a different case: Why was that? – Ireland and Poland had the same history. The hunger strikes in Northern-Ireland in 1981 were a response to the Solidarity movement in Poland. When in 1981 Poland was in need of food that same year, Ireland was the no. 1 country in Europe to donate. Dr. Gabriel Doherty went further on to the creation of the Irish-Polish Society in January 1982. Great speech interestingly delivered.
All in all, the festival was very well attended on 28 March, the organizers even experienced the lack of space between all the business stands, entertainment performances, bands, dancing and food sampling. What people enjoyed most was delicious Polish food that was on offer, the music and the fantastic Polish dances in their exotic garments.
You could see people making new friends, enjoying themselves and chatting along with some old work colleagues they haven’t seen for a while. Even though Polish is the biggest minority in Ireland, people know each other, recognize their old flat mates, fellow English course students and neighbours. You could see some mixed couples, people bringing their other half to show off the essence of Poland. You could hear Polish language on the streets of Cork and on that evening the same language was proudly dominating the Cork City Hall.