Posted by: ExperienceKosovoBlog | February 26, 2010

Tongue-in-Cheek Irish Embassy Opens in Kosovo


Tongue-in-Cheek Irish Embassy Opens in Kosovo

It may not offer visas, but the unofficial embassy of Ireland does provide hearty stews and Barry’s Irish Tea.

Wedged between embassies and ambassadorial residences on Dragodan hill, you’ll find an imposing building with an uncharacteristically scruffy sign and an Irish flag flapping.

While most diplomatic missions prefer to mark their spot with brass plaques and a heavy security presence, the Unofficial Embassy of Ireland makes do with a hand-written sign and an open-door policy.

The project is the work of two young Irishmen who first visited Kosovo when it declared independence in 2008 for their day jobs – journalism and photography.

Snapper Steve Ryan and reporter Conor Creighton, both 29, were struck by the absence of an Irish embassy in Pristina, and decided to return to set one up.

Steve said: “People can’t travel easily to Ireland so we thought we would bring a bit of Ireland to them.

“It is not political, it is about cultural exchange.”

The pair has so far treated their guests to an evening of Irish food, an official opening party on Monday and plan to organise a series of cultural events before the end of the project on February 27.

“When we first came we were wondering whether people would get it, but everyone has been great,” he added.

The duo also plans to provide respite, in form of tea and toilets, to the many Kosovars who queue for hours at nearby embassies for visas.

The embassy features tongue-in-cheek features, such as an ‘Interrogation Room’ with a photo of U2’s Bono placed in front of a chair and a ‘Communications Centre’ with a phone dangling from the wall.

Despite borrowing the word ‘embassy’ for its project, the unofficial embassy has not faced any resistance from the real ambassador to Kosovo, Martin Greene, who is based in Budapest or the Irish Department for Foreign Affairs.

Ireland was among the first group of countries to formally recognise Kosovo’s independence in February 2008.

Events for February at the Unofficial Embassy

Hannah Clarke is an English artist whose work takes the form of a pub quiz where the spectator is invited to compete and maybe even win.

Pete Littlewood is a poet and publishes the acclaimed English language literary journal The Short Age.

The hound is a German artist who specialises in portraits. She has been commissioned on behalf of the embassy to sketch their unofficial Excellencies.

For more information visit http://theunofficialembassyofireland.wordpress.com/ or their Facebook page, The Unofficial Embassy of Ireland.

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