The Irish Association of Korea has brought all its powers to bear in order to celebrate almost a century and a half of Irish people on the peninsula with everything from history to music to food on offer this November 12. Many believe that Irish native Colonel Hugh McKee of the USS Colorado was the first Irishman to set foot in Korea when part of an attack on Choji Garrison near Incheon in 1871. Since that fateful day (McKee died in the raid) many Irish men and women have followed onto these shores for reasons as diverse as war, missionary work, politics and the teaching of present perfect. With so many generations and walks of life included, this November Saturday promises to be a special one for all from the most casual to ardent of Irish watchers.
The day will start at 10am with breakfast at the Hamilton Hotel in Itaewon. With opening remarks by Irish Ambassador Aingeal O’Donoghue, the breakfast will also offer a chance to learn more about the Irish Association of Korea and the work it does in the community courtesy of a short presentation by IAK chairman Andrew Kilbride. Breakfast over and retired professor emeritus of Kyunghee University Dr. Kevin O’Rourke will give a talk on the Irish experience on the peninsula. As a Korea resident since 1964 and the author of The First Irish in Korea and the History and Contribution of the Irish people over the years, O’ Rourke is one of the most knowledgeable scholars around when it comes to the Irish contribution to the peninsula.
Unsurprisingly, part of the day will focus on one of the most turbulent events in Korea of the twentieth century: the Korean War. In the second presentation of the morning, author James Durney (Irish Casualties in the Korean War) will be putting the Irish involvement in the Korean War in the spotlight. Although not officially a part of the United Nations forces, many Irish from both sides of the Irish border fought under the flags of the United Kingdom and the United States in the conflict and the tour will take in locations where the Irish fought such as the ironically-named Battle of Happy Valley where many Irish soldiers fell. The tour will also visit the War Memorial of the Irish dead of the Korean War, which includes not only soldiers but also 7 Irish Columban priests and an Irish nun (the first known Irish woman to live in Korea) who perished at the hands of North Korean forces. Durney has been invited to Korea by the IAK specially for the weekend, and having written two books on the Irish involvement in the conflict, will be especially well-versed on the conflict. He will be assisted in the morning by fellow author Andrew Salmon (Scorched Earth Black Snow).
On returning to Seoul, events will take a turn for the festive as the IAK hosts an evening of music and craic in a Hootenanny at the two-floored Rocky Mountain Tavern in Itaewon. Musicians will include Sweet Murphy’s Fancy, Boss Hogwon, The Shindigs and Scott Hildebrand upstairs with Irish traditional group Jigs and Reels and Colm Doherty downstairs. There will also be raffles throughout the night with proceeds going to assist the Irish Association of Korea with its continued running costs. So a day to savor and remember all things Irish as we approach a century and a half of Irish / Korean relations.
Tickets for the day are KRW10,000, This price includes breakfast, tours and admission to the evening event. Spaces are limited so pre-payment is necessary. Please reserve by November 9th. For bank transfer details please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you can’t make the day events, tickets for the Rocky Mountain Tavern Hootenanny only are also priced at KRW10,000 with payment on the door.
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Website: www.irishassociationof korea.kr