Announcement: Winners of 2020 Essay Language Competition

posted Oct 2, 2020, 12:15 PM by Reinhard Schoeller   [ updated Oct 2, 2020, 12:17 PM ]

When this competition was announced in December last year, no one anticipated the disruption ahead of us all. Here we are now in October of the following and we are so happy to finally end the wait and announce the winners. First, let me thank all teachers and students for their  tremendous patience. And of course, for their participation in the 2020 German Language Essay Competition. We never head so many participants!

The winners and runners up of the 2020 German Language Essay Competition are:


Alexa Odor

Samantha Kushan

Colaiste Phobal Roscrea. Co Tipperary

Colaiste Phobal Roscrea. Co Tipperary

Transition Year:

Callum Kelly

Conor Robinson

St. Patrick’s College, Cullies, Co Cavan

Sligo Gramma School, Co Sligo


Liadhan Murray

Esther Cowan

Tullamore College, Co Offaly

Wilson’s Hospital School, Multyfarnham, Co Westmeath

The winner of the Catriona Dowling perpetual trophy 2020 for best Teacher in the competition is Ms Laura Brogan from Loreto Secondary School Fermoy.

Congratulations to all winners, teachers and participants. 

The Austrian Ambassador and the Vice President of the Irish Austrian Society will together present the prize and the trophy to the winners at the their respective schools.

I also like to thank our sponsor, SONNENTOR, for their generous support of the 2020 German Language Essay Competition. Each participating student will receive a selection of samples.

Wir hoffen, dass Sie auch nächstes Jahr wieder so zahlreich mit ihren Schülern teilnehmen und wünschen Ihnen dafür viel Erfolg.

Ulrike Schoeller
Vice President

AGM 2020

posted Oct 2, 2020, 12:01 PM by Reinhard Schoeller   [ updated Oct 2, 2020, 12:01 PM ]

On Monday 28 September we held our 2020 Annual General Meeting. In keeping with the Zeitgeist, this meeting was our first online AGM. We had 26 members attending via Zoom. 

The current comittee has been confirmed to stay on for the coming year, with two changes. Leaving the comittee is Lucy O'Kelly. Joining the comittee is Dr. Declan Downey. 

During his speech, President Guy Johnston reflected on the past membership year. He also welcomed back our new and former Patron, Ambassador Dr. Thomas Nader and his wife Ingrid. Guy also shared the plan for Declan to take over the role of President of the Irish Austrian Society in 2021. 

A statement of accounts was circulated to all members attending the AGM and was approved. Members not attending can still request a copy via email from

Welcome Back Thomas Nader

posted Sep 28, 2020, 4:16 AM by Reinhard Schoeller   [ updated Sep 28, 2020, 4:16 AM ]

His Excellency Thomas Nader, the Ambassador of the Republic of Austria, presented his Letters of Credence to the President at Áras an Uachtaráin, on Friday, the 25th of September 2020. With his official appointment, the Irish Austrian Society welcome back it's former and now new Patron. 

Letter To Members

posted Sep 9, 2020, 11:39 AM by Reinhard Schoeller

Dear Member

Dalkey-Killiney Walk July 2020

posted Aug 16, 2020, 5:06 AM by Reinhard Schoeller

11 walkers joined us for our 2nd walk in 2020. We walked approximately 11,300 steps and climbed the equivalent of 9 floors. Well done everyone.

As arranged, we met at Dalkey Dart Station, some arrived by Dart others by car and those living nearby walked to the meeting point. Weather was warm with no sunshine or wind. We started towards Vico Road passing close to the house where Matt Damon stayed during the lockdown in March, April. On Vico Road we went to Hawks Cliff a popular swimming place where we saw EIRE 7 marked on the Cliff. This is a recently restored large marking, Eire being the Irish word for Ireland. During WW II these markings were all around the coast of Ireland, (the GPS of the time), showing pilots flying over the county that Ireland was neutral.

From Hawks Cliff we walked up to Killiney Hill and admired the wonderful views, Killiney Bay, across to Bray Head, small and large Sugarloaf and Wicklow Mountains in the distance. Along the way we saw singer Enya’s Castle and in the distance Bono’s home. Walking through the forest on Killiney Hill you could think you were in Austria!! Returning to Dalkey some of us had a well-earned Coffee sitting outside at Finnegans Pub. A great day was had by all with lots of chatting and laughing. Looking forward to our next walk August 29th.


Howth Walk

posted Jul 13, 2020, 5:23 AM by Reinhard Schoeller   [ updated Jul 13, 2020, 5:26 AM ]

Our first event after the lock down was a walk in Howth - with a little surprise. This walk was a guided tour with John, the man that knows all the Howth stories. He showed us some new places and for the places we already knew he had a new story. While the weather was mixed, the mood on the walk was great and everyone enjoyed it very much after a long time if isolation at home. It's great to feel the breeze and hear the waves again. Thanks to Rosemary for organising the walk and to John for his insights.

The Socio-Economic Impact of Covid-19

posted Jun 11, 2020, 1:29 PM by Reinhard Schoeller   [ updated Jun 11, 2020, 1:29 PM ]

In a sign of the times, fellow members of the Society assembled online today to hear and participate in a seminar discussion. Dr. Declan Downey provided the historical perspective on how plagues were catalysts for major socio-economic, cultural and political changes. This was then followed by our Society President, Guy Johnston, speaking about the contemporary situation and on what might be expected of the pandemic Covid-19’s impact in socio-economic terms.

The format of this event was well received by all participants so that we'll be looking to organise further similar talks online. At least until it is safe for us all to again meet in person.

Essay Competition Update

posted May 24, 2020, 10:20 AM by Reinhard Schoeller   [ updated May 24, 2020, 10:20 AM ]

Dear Students and Teachers

Normally, by this time, we would all have expected to see the winners of the Irish Austrian Society Essay Competition announced. As you will have expected, the normal course of events has been disrupted by developments around corona virus and measure for us all to stay safe. All submissions have been reviewed, graded and the winners determined, however, the ceremony to announce the winners had to be postponed as you will understand. The new date for the ceremony has been set provisionally for September with full details to be communicated at a later date.

Until then, stay safe. 


posted Mar 26, 2020, 8:05 AM by Reinhard Schoeller   [ updated Mar 26, 2020, 8:05 AM ]

The Irish Austrian Society would like to share with all Members and Friends the following information:

Soldiers, statesmen and Poets – reflections on the Irish in Vienna

posted Jan 21, 2020, 9:02 AM by Reinhard Schoeller

The house where I lived in Vienna for the best part of five years (up to my return to Dublin in late 2010) was situated on Hartaecker Strasse in the Doebling area of the northern suburbs – a very pleasant leafy area with nice parks and good transport connections. (However, one of my successors decided it was best to move on to another location closer to the city centre so, alas, the residence of the Irish Ambassador is no longer there.) From my back window, if the weather as anyway clear, I could enjoy the pleasant prospect of the steep Kahlenberg ridge which overlooks the city from the north side, as well as the foothills with their forests and the vineyards on the slopes leading up to the ridge with its spectacular views. It was not too far away to be able to walk up to those heights and, even if one did not have the time or the stamina to make it to the top, there were plenty of attractive places to stop and linger en route, such as Grinzing, Nussdorf or Neustift am Walde, with their quaint garlanded heuriger and, of course, the seductive pleasures of the local Gruener Veltliner or Riesling to dally with for an hour or two. One could set off, staff in hand, on a Sunday full of good intentions to complete a two or three hour climb up the hills but might never get beyond the first port of call and a satisfying, but somniferous, experience of schnitzel and weiss-wein. The effort was still worthwhile.

The Kahlenberg, of course, has a special significance in Vienna’s history – and one that has a strong Irish element attached to it. In the late 17th century the Holy Roman Empire was creaking under the pressure of trying to defend its vast territorial reach on many fronts and came under such considerable strain that its very survival was in question. Not for the first time, Vienna itself was threatened in 1683 by the great army of the Ottoman Empire under the Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Pasha, and was under a prolonged siege. The Ottomans possessed formidable military technology, particularly in the field of ballistics and explosives and the Turkish sappers had been systematically undermining and breaching the ancient walls of the city in preparation for a final assault. The Emperor Leopold had retreated to Passau, leaving the city to be defended by the Count von Starhemberg with a relatively small defensive force (one of his more prominent assistants in this difficult task was an Irish man called O’Hussey – but that’s another story). After a two-month siege, only the arrival of a large reinforcement army under the Polish King Jan Sobieski and Prince Eugene of Savoy prevented the city from falling to the Turks.

The decisive battle was fought on the slopes of the hills leading down from the Kahlenberg, where Sobieski’s army had pitched camp, to the city; the Turkish headquarters was in the Turkenschanze (from which the lovely park situated a few hundred yards from my old home takes its name). Beside the present-day park, to which I often used to walk or jog, is the botany and horticulture school of the University of Vienna of which the guiding light in its early days was the monk Gregor Maendel who pioneered the science of plant genetics and DNA - but I digress.

In the cavalry charge – reputedly the biggest of its kind ever staged - which swept down the hills into the Turkish camp and overwhelmed it, one of the foremost officers from the combined Austrian –Polish forces was a young Irishman, originally from Ballymote, Co Sligo, His name was Francis (or Franz) Taaffe, and it was he and his hussar unit who captured the standard of Mustafa Pasha, a significant moment in what became the rout of the Ottoman army. He was the first to achieve fame in the service of Austria of a family line which was to become one of the most illustrious in the history of the Habsburg Empire. His family had originally been the Anglo-Norman Catholic (or Old English) barons of Carlingford, Co Louth but, because of their opposition to the English Parliamentarians, had been removed to Sligo. However, they retained the claim to the title of Carlingford. Young Francis Taaffe, who was educated by the Jesuits in Austria as a young man, was to take be knighted for his valour in battle and was to be admitted to the most prestigious chivalric order of the Empire, the Order of the Golden Fleece, in 1694. He is one of seven either born in Ireland or of Irish émigré descent to be awarded this exclusive honour. A descendant of his was the famous Count Taaffe who became Chief Minister to the Emperor Franz-Joseph in the 19th century.

The lifting of the siege and the defeat of the formidable Turkish force marked a turning point in the balance of the conflict and from that point on the threat posed by the Ottomans to central Europe was broken irretrievably. It is hard to imagine that those present-day pleasant, suburban leafy streets and parks around Doebling which I loved to stroll around had in the past been bloody battle-grounds in which the fate of Europe and its culture was decided in a few tumultuous hours.

If I were on my way up to the Kahlenberg on a sunny summer afternoon I might well stop for a rest at Neuwaldegg, where there is a park just off the street that begins to wind its way up the hills through the outskirts of the Wienerwald. In that woodland park, which was once the grounds of the Schwarzenberg Castle, there is another reminder of the historic links between Ireland and the Austrian Empire. Standing in splendid isolation there among the trees is an impressive monument, which on closer inspection reveals itself as the mausoleum or vault of a famous figure, buried there in 1801; it is inscribed with the name and some details of Field Marshal Franz Moritz de Lacy, another of the illustrious seven Irish names which are celebrated in the military archives as members of the Order of the Golden Fleece. He was the son of another famous warrior, Peter De Lacy, who had achieved fame in the service of the Czar of Russia. Franz Moritz became the chief adviser to the Emperor on military matters made President of the Imperial War Council of the Empire in 1766 and undertook a major restructuring and reform of the imperial armed forces.

He was a scion of a famous family – again one originating in the Norman Old English Catholic tradition. While the most famous of the line is probably Hugh de Lacy who was one of the most important of the Norman knights who invaded Ireland and held it for Henry Ii of England, who became the Lord of Meath and later conqueror of Ulster (that line died out within a couple of generations), the branch of the family from which Franz Moritz de Lacy came was a cadet branch from Co Limerick.

It was Franz Moritz De Lacy who introduced the renowned Dublin singer Michael Kelly to Mozart in Vienna in the 1770s; Kelly in his memoirs recounts his embarrassment at meeting senior Irish generals in the presence of the Emperor Joseph II and being unable to understand when one of them addressed him in Irish, which he regarded as a peasant tongue.

The culture of Ireland (including its ancient language) still holds respect in Vienna, I am glad to say, and one of the things which gave me most satisfaction during my tenure at the Embassy there was the establishment of an Irish Studies module in the University. It consolidated already existing course on Irish history and literature and expanded them by enabling short-term residences by visiting lecturers, mainly, though not exclusively, in the field of Anglo-Irish literature. we were very fortunate in finding a Director for this programme in the later Prof Werner Huber, a man gifted with great enthusiasm and energy, who had a special interest in the surrealist writings of Flann O’Brien (aka Myles na Gopaleen); this led to the foundation of a European association of Flann O’Brien enthusiasts – who became known by the name of the “Flannoraks” - which continues to flourish – though, unfortunately, Prof Huber passed away prematurely a few years ago.

That Irish Studies programme also facilitated the visit to Vienna for a European Irish Studies conference of Nobel Laureate, the late Seamus Heaney and his talented wife, Marie, in September 2009, which was an unforgettable pleasure for all of us there at that time. Seamus and Marie had visited Vienna on their honeymoon - a detail of which I was unaware until they told me – and were delighted to be back again for a few days. Seamus delivered an enthralling keynote address to a packed audience at the University entitled ‘Mossbawn via Mantua’, which ranged widely and deeply through his poetry tracing its European influences from the classical Homer and Virgil through the Tollund man, the Vikings and Dante to modern European writers, finishing up with his own new translated version of the medieval poem Pangur Ban (the original text of which is to be found in a manuscript in a monastery in Carinthia):

“Day and night, soft purr, soft pad
Pangur Ban has learnt his trade
Day and Night, my own hard work
Solves the cruxes, makes a mark”

Frank Cogan
Former Irish Ambassador to Austria

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