Ireland's first overseas cultural centre opens at 5 Rue des Irlandais in the heart of the Latin quarter in Paris.
Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism John O'Donoghue was in Paris for the official opening of the centre which underwent a €10 million renovation. The building has quite a history having been used as a Polish seminary during communist times, it was stormed by the mob during the French revolution and housed former concentration camp inmates following the war. Pope John Paul II studied here as did the children of Napoléon Bonaparte and Wolfe Tone. Following years of lobbying in 1991 a law was passed to establish the college as an Irish cultural centre.
Rector and Manager of the Irish College Brendan Devlin says that establishing the cultural centre is about closing the circuit of history.
Ireland now has a restored historic building sitting on an acre of prime Paris real estate, a place where students and artists can live and a permanent platform for Irish culture.
Director of the Centre Culturel Irlandais Helen Carey says that the significance of the area is enormous and is about showing the Ireland of today to Paris.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 18 October 2002. The reporter is Sean Whelan.