Links between Brazil & Ireland




Address by the Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern T.D.,

to the University of São Paulo, 19 July 2001.




Rector, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.


I am very happy to be here today and to be received by you, Mr. President, and other members of the Faculty.


When I was planning this visit to São Paulo I wanted to include in my programme an event to mark Ireland’s cultural links with Brazil.  What could be more appropriate than to do so in this great University.    


The University of São Paulo is, we all know, the biggest in South America.  It has played, and it continues to play a dynamic role in the life of Brazil and, indeed, more widely in Latin America.  The work being done here on the human genome project is only one among many where this University is at the forefront of research.


Ireland has presented many faces to the world.  A small country, with many painful as well as proud moments in its history, it sent its people over the centuries, often as unwilling exiles, to many parts of the world, to work in business and education.


Over the years, Irish priests and nuns have brought their own contribution to the poor and deprived in many parts of this country.  In the more recent past, we have seen the beginnings of new economic ventures in Brazil that characterize Ireland’s economic successes within its membership of the European Union.


One thing of which we are particularly proud is the interest which Irish writers have aroused internationally. It is in this domain that the University of São Paulo has played such a distinguished part over the past twenty years. 


The Anglo-Irish Literature programme that was begun in the University in 1980 has formed a generation of scholars and teachers, who have brought Irish writers to the attention of so many, not only in Brazil, but also more widely in Latin America


I would like here today to recognize the remarkable work which has been done by Dr. Munira Mutran in developing this programme, together with the many other scholars who have passed through this University and made their own contributions to Irish studies.


Over the years, the Anglo Irish literary programme has produced many doctorates and post-graduate qualifications at the University.  We have been proud to have been associated with some of this work through the Irish Cultural Relations Committee which has given support in various ways over the years, including through the grant aiding of Irish professors and lecturers who have participated in the activities at the University. 


Our former President, Mary Robinson, visited the University in 1994 to pay tribute to this achievement.  Irish writing is flourishing as never before.  Whereas in earlier days, the number of Irish publishers was relatively small, however distinguished, today we are witnessing a tremendous output from publishers within Ireland of poetry, prose and drama of outstanding quality. 


I am glad today to offer the University a further quantity of books, on Ireland and Irish writers.  These books, which cover a wide range of topics, have been donated by the Cultural Relations Committee of Ireland. 


Next year, the International Association for the Study of Irish Literature will hold its three-year session at the University of São Paulo.  This will be the first occasion on which this Congress is held in Latin America.  I hope that it will provide further recognition of the proud record of this University in promoting Irish literature in Brazil and other countries of Latin America.  I wish Dr. Mutran and her colleagues every success in the organisation of this important event. 


In my discussions yesterday with President Cardoso in Brasilia I had great pleasure in announcing that Ireland would shortly appoint a resident Ambassador to Brazil, and open a Consulate in São Paulo.  We recognize in this decision the great importance of Brazil, politically and economically, in the life of this continent and internationally. 


But I believe also that it will have other positive effects.  With the opening of an Embassy in Brasilia and with a strengthened Irish presence here in São Paulo, Ireland can hope in the years ahead to develop its relations on all fronts with Brazil.  A key objective will be to support and encourage the work which has been done over the years for the promotion of Irish studies. 


We are truly grateful for the scholarship and creative interest in Irish writing which has been shown by this University. I can assure you that your work will continue to have increased attention and support from Ireland in the future.


Rector, I hope that today will mark the beginning of a new phase in relations with this great University and in the two- way promotion of cultural links between Brazil and Ireland.   I thank you very warmly.