The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

A classic French breakfastHow did your blogger spend his morning? Well, first we picked up today’s edition of Le Monde (‘All Quiet, Nothing Happening, Call Back In September’, says the front page headline), then bought some galettes in the local French market and eventually passed the morning with both newspaper and sweetbread in our favourite little café. Yes, you’ve guessed it – we’re still on holiday in Tralee.
A recent TV report on the French community in Dublin estimated that there are at least 20,000 French people living and working full-time in Ireland – and if you factor in Erasmus students, tourists and frequent business visitors then that bumps up the total considerably. No surprise, then, that there’s more and more Frenchness on view in the country – especially restaurants and delis, given France’s reputation for excellent food.
Coq of the walk - one of France's national emblemsA homesick French exile freshly-landed in Dublin, for example, can start today (Friday 17 August) by buying real pains au chocolat and croissants (not the awful Cuisine de France stuff in your local breakfast-roll shack) in the French bakery next to Grogan’s pub behind the George’s Street arcade – and then eating them in Café en Seine on Dawson Street.
Our ex-pat Pierre/Georgette can then pick up Le Monde, Marianne and France Football at the kiosk across from the GPO and read them over lunch at the Alliance Française café on Kildare Street. There’s usually an afternoon screening of some French film at the IFI or the Screen. Spoilt for choice when looking for a French restaurant in which to be fed and watered, he/she can then dance away the mal de pays tonight at French Friday on Thomas Street with a full house of compatriots. And TV5 is on digital.
There’s no less Frenchness in Ireland’s provincial centres. In Tralee, to take the example closest to hand, there’s a French deli and wine shop called French Flair – and the French market we mentioned above is the one that travels around Ireland every summer. It’s in the Kerry capital this weekend for the Rose Of Tralee Festival*, which opens tonight.
A rose(On which point, it’s disappointing that there’s no live music on the streets of Tralee for this year’s festival. Last year, bands like Republic of Loose, Delorentos, Dry County and loads others came to Kerry and played free outdoor concerts over the festival weekend. This year, all the live music responsibility rests with Richie Kavanagh. The organising committee plead lack of resources, as well as increased competition from festivals in nearly every Irish town – for instance, the recent music events in Mitchelstown, Portlaoise and Birr.)
French stamp featuring Marianne, another French symbolOf course, most French people living in Ireland are well integrated here and aren’t trying to cocoon themselves in their own Paris-sur-Liffey. Similarly, your blogger isn’t really involved with the Irish community in Paris (approximately 10,000 ex-pat Pats in the greater Paris region) – nearly all my friends are French and I only venture into Irish pubs to watch football, GAA and rugby on TV.
Returning to Ireland this summer, it’s good to see the growing number of ethnic shops, French and others, in every town – not least because it gives Irish people a chance to experience new tastes and aromas and colours and sounds. (This weekend’s Eurocultured festival in Smithfield is another opportunity for discovery.)
Of course, not all Irish people are so enthusiastic about these new arrivals. But then, not all Irish people have lived away from home, like some of us have. Lend them some sugar – they are your neighbours.
*There’s a French Rose. Madeleine Barry is a 23-year-old law student who was raised in Paris (i.e. French-bred). According to her official bio, “she enjoys good conversation with friends around the dinner table and would love to meet Mary Robinson.” No mention of whether she enjoys Premiership football or second-hand-bookstores or watching obscure indie-kid bands at the Fleche d’Or, or whether she’d love to meet a marathon-running Kerryman. However, if we read on, she’s “a fan of Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour, Serge Gainsbourg, Sinead O’Connor, U2 and the White Stripes”. Ah! – that final hurdle may be insurmountable.

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