Representatives of Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture and an official delegation from Croatia, including the Mayor of Rijeka Vojko Obersnel, President of the Rijeka City Council Andrej Poropat and Rijeka University Rector Snježana Prijić Samaržija, visited Dublin and Galway from 25 to 30 June at the invitation of the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in the Republic of Ireland in order to celebrate the Statehood Day of the Republic of Croatia.
The celebration of Statehood Day in the Republic of Ireland took place at the Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin, where the Mayor of Rijeka Vojko Obersnel said The Croats, whom you know well, are diligent and exceptionally hospitable. Since many of them work and live in Ireland, I am certain that you have had the chance to see that for yourselves. The acknowledgement and acceptance of diversity are qualities that are integrated into the identity of the denizens of Rijeka and a contributing factor in the formation of the European spirit. Of course, all this had a significant impact on the process of earning the title of the European Capital of Culture 2020 with a programme that bears the only name that truly describes Rijeka – Port of Diversity, Obersnel pointed out at the celebration at the impressive Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin.
The following day, the prestigious Aula Maxima of the National University of Ireland, Galway hosted another celebration of the Republic of Croatia Statehood Day as well as two presentations of two European Capitals of Culture in 2020 – Rijeka and Galway in Ireland. The Rijeka presentation, accompanied by a Port of Diversity promotional video, was led by the Director of the Rijeka 2020 Development and Strategic Partnerships Sector Irena Kregar Šegota, who was joined near the end by the Manager of the 27 Neighbourhoods flagship Branka Cvjetičanin, who is staying in Galway with one of the “neighbourhoods” – Lovran. Galway 2020 also offered an extensive presentation, led by the Programme Director Marilyn Gaughan Reddan. The introductory address was given by the Mayor of Rijeka Vojko Obersnel, Director of Galway 2020 Patricia Philbin and Deputy Mayor of Galway Donal Lyons, who called for openness, tolerance and cooperation.
The celebration was capped off by the Porto Etno Orchestra, led by Zoran Majstorović and comprising two “Krk sopile” (a woodwind instrument) players from Vrbnik, Zlatko Volarić and Zlatko Jurković, along with the Irish violinist Aindrias de Staic and percussionist Moises Garcia. Three simultaneous meetings were held leading up to the celebration and presentations: one between the Rijeka 2020 and Galway 2020 teams, the representatives of Faite Irland in Galway and the Rijeka Tourist Board, another between the Galway and Rijeka city councils, and a third at the PorterShed Innovation Centre attended by the Croatian Ambassador in the Republic of Ireland Ivan Mašina, Mayor Obersnel and Rector Snježana Prijić Samaržija. The delegation from Rijeka was received by the Mayor of Galway Mike Cubbard at City Hall.
The title of the European Capital of Culture is not the only thing that connects Ireland and Croatia, Rijeka and Galway. There is also the life and work of an important historical figure for both countries, the most influential Irishman in Croatia – Laval Nugent. An important military man, reputable soldier, cultural diplomat and passionate supporter of archaeological explorations. A collector of history, with a vision of creating and evaluating art, culture, history, diversity and, above all, a creator of heritage, were just some of the epithets uttered at the opening ceremony of the “Laval Nugent – Warrior and Art Collector” exhibition at the James Hardiman Library, hosted by the National University of Ireland, Galway. The exhibition was officially opened by Ciaran O’Hogartaigh, President of the National University of Ireland in Galway, Rijeka University Rector Snježana Prijić Samaržija, Mayor of Galway Mike Cubbard, Croatian Ambassador in the Republic of Ireland Ivan Mašina and Mayor of Rijeka Vojko Obersnel.