German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is visiting Ireland

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is visiting Ireland on a three-day state visit.Mr Steinmeier, who is accompanied by his wife Elke Büdenbender, was greeted at Áras an Uachtaráin on Wednesday by President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina.  The two men held a meeting and discussed a range of issues, including the global Covid-19 pandemic, the COP26 climate change summit, the future of Europe, and the situation in Afghanistan, as well as protecting and promoting regional languages in the EU.  Mr Higgins also highlighted the strong ties between our two countries.

Funnily enough a book largely unknown here in Ireland has been acclaimed as a major reason why Germans are the third-largest tourist group to visit Ireland.  German writer Heinrich Böll: his Irish Journal and Achill Island links are key reasons why Germans love the rugged landscape and romantic ideals which still remain mostly unchanged today.

The Heinrich-Böll Cottage is located on the outskirts of Dugort village on Achill Island, Co. Mayo, Ireland.  The Achill Heinrich Böll Association is dedicated to the memory of Heinrich Böll, who spent his holidays here with his family for decades. Much of the inspiration for his famous ‘Irisches Tagebuch’, Irish Diary came from his visits to Achill and much of this book was written here.

In 2003, the Association purchased the  cottage from the Böll family to make it available to artists, writers and musicians as a retreat. This has become the focus of the Association’s work.  Since 2006, the Association has been organising a Boll Memorial Weekend which takes place annually over the May bank holiday weekend. The three-day programme includes readings, walks, concerts and lectures.  Due to the pandemic, the Memorial Weekend was cancelled in 2020 and will take place online in 2021.

The association is comprised of people who live on Achill or have a special relationship to the island and to Böll as a writer, as well as members of the Böll family.  The activities of the association are supported by the German Embassy in Dublin, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the Goethe-Institut Ireland  and the Mayo County Council.

Böll fell in love with Achill Island which has a lot to offer.  Its natural beauty with beautiful coast, imposing mountainous peaks and, in the opinion of many, the most spectacular sandy beach in Ireland – Keem Bay.  The ties between Ireland and Germany have never been stronger and more and more Irish visitors are learning about the huge variety of cities and places that Germany has to offer.  Now that Christmas Markets are opening again it will be a great place to enjoy that truly festive cheer this year… www.germany.travel

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