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First Anniversary Seminar
Heinrich Böll and Ireland

2 May 2013

By Thu 2 May 2013April 3rd, 2020Events, GREEN VALUES

This event is now over.

Our First Anniversary Seminar “Heinrich Böll and Ireland” is now

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When: 10:00am, Thursday 2 May 2013 Venue: Mansion House, Dublin

To commemorate the completion of its first successful year in operation, the Green Foundation Ireland hosted an Anniversary Seminar at 10:00am on Thursday 2 May in the Mansion House, Dublin.

It was a morning seminar that concluded with celebratory refreshments at 1:00pm.

The seminar explored Heinrich Böll’s relationship with Ireland, and members of the Heinrich Böll Foundation were in attendance.

Attendance was FREE, but donations to cover the cost of the event were appreciated.

Heinrich Böll
German novelist Heinrich Böll (1917-1985), winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, visited Achill regularly during the 1950s and 60s. His travelogue, “Irish Journal”, describes in loving detail his journey to Achill and his observations on island life.

Böll satirised both church and state power and pomposities in his work, and was a trenchant critic of the liberal idea of the primacy of the private over the public sphere and that everything can be reduced to an economic relationship.

Dr. Brendan O’Byrne, Curator of the Plato Centre TCD, discussed how we might find an ethical alternative to mass consumerism by considering the roots of western culture in Greek philosophy and how we can live in ways that are personally fulfilling and collectively sustainable.

We were delighted that René Böll, son of Heinrich, attended the
seminar and joined us to celebrate our first anniversary.

Event Programme


10:00am Tea and coffee were available throughout the morning and refreshments were served at 1:00pm.

10:10am Welcome by Nuala Ahern, Chair of GFI.

10:20am A successful first year of the work of Green Foundation Ireland was outlined, including the Carnsore Summer School, the Future of Europe seminar in Tailors’ Hall, as well as the Climate Gathering in the Burren in February.  A GFI research project on Renewable Energy and Democracy has also been completed and is now available on the GFI website.

11:00am Heinrich Böll and Ireland
Tommy Simpson, Finance Director of GFI, introduced the artist René Böll, son of Heinrich, who was present to give us his memories of Achill in the 1950s and Dr. Gisela Holfter, author of “Heinrich Böll and Ireland”, who contrasted 1950s Ireland with post-war Germany.

The seminar questioned whether Ireland has overtaken Germany in excess consumption, and considered what a greener lifestyle is.  The work of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the German Green Foundation, was outlined by Ramona Simon of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Berlin. 

12 noon The Greeks and the Good Life
Professor John Dillon, member of the GFI Board, introduced Dr. Brendan O’Byrne, who spoke on why consumerism cannot make us happy and how it requires indebtedness as a norm.  He addressed what the classical Greeks would have considered a good and sustainable life, and the audience was invited to respond.

1:00pm Refreshments.

The Heinrich Böll Foundation
The Heinrich Böll Foundation is part of the Green political movement that has developed worldwide as a response to the traditional politics of socialism, liberalism, and conservatism. Its main tenets are ecology and sustainability, democracy and human rights, self-determination and justice. It places particular emphasis on gender democracy, meaning social emancipation and equal rights for women and men. It is also committed to equal rights for cultural and ethnic minorities and to the societal and political participation of immigrants. Finally, it promotes non-violence and proactive peace policies.

It is a Green think tank, an international policy network, and is active in ecology, democracy and human rights worldwide with 30 offices across the globe.