The 12th Annual Conference of AFIS (Association of Franco-Irish Studies), 19-20 May, 2017
Venue: Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, Ireland
Theme:Patrimonie/Cultural Heritage in France and/or Ireland
France has always been a country which cherishes its writers, artists, musicians and intellectuals. It positively discriminates in favour of its cultural heritage, because it realises the extent to which patrimonie is what attracts such huge numbers of visitors to the Hexagon. Ireland, on the other hand, while it can point to writers, actors, musicians and artists of a calibre that is way in excess of its size, seems reluctant to put in place the measures that are needed to allow these people to concentrate on what should be their primary concern. The setting up of Aosdána and the Arts Council, while welcome, does not cater adequately for those wishing to live solely through their art. Sadly, bodies such as the Royal Irish Academy cannot rival the Académie française in terms of cachet and prestige
France can teach Ireland quite a lot in its foregrounding of local history and amenities, its clear outline of what each area, no matter how small, has to offer both French nationals and prospective visitors alike. In recent years, Ireland has increasingly begun to recognise the significance and worth of its own cultural heritage. How one interprets such value is germane to a nation's relationship with its patrimonie: tensions can arise between the maintenance and development of cultural assets for a heritage benefit and the commercialisation of those same cultural assets. Great strides have been made recently in Ireland, following the French footsteps, evinces some greater reverance for dúchas/patrimonie. However, the question may be asked:what can the French teach the Irish in terms of balancing the demands of such competing interests?