France and Ireland enrich each other culturally

Leading nations in the fields of culture and education with a rich historical pedigree, France and Ireland have collaborated closely on a wide range of projects in these fields together.

Two classic examples are the annual InterCeltic Festival in Brittany and the ERASMUS transnational education programme, with France being the most popular destination for Irish students.

Irish Education Minister Harris welcomes stronger French-Irish relations under Erasmus programme

A record number of Irish people have applied to take part in the Erasmus+ programme over the next two years, with France being one of the most popular choice of countries.

Up to 7,000 people have applied compared to 5,100 in February 2020.

“It is wonderful news that more people than ever are applying for the programme,” said Simon Harris, Irish Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. “This is despite the uncertainty of the pandemic and Brexit.”

The Erasmus+ Programme has been expanded to include adult learners and early childhood organisations, and travel for participants can vary from as little as a week to as long as a year.

“The fact that adult learners and early childhood organisations will be able to apply further strengthens a more inclusive approach in education,” Minister Harris added.

Over 85,000 learners, staff, young people and volunteers will benefit from improved funding under the new programme over the next six years.

The money will be used to support study visits, traineeships, volunteering and inter-institutional collaboration between schools, further education centres, adult education, youth and higher education institutions.

Students using the Erasmus+ programme will receive credits (ECTS) towards their qualifications for time spent studying or working abroad.

This positive news about increasing applications also coincides with an agreement between Ireland and France allowing for student exchange in the culinary arts, hotel and tourism sectors.

“Ireland and France share international reputations for the excellence of our food, the quality of our produce, and for our hospitality,” said Minister Harris. “These industries have struggled during COVID-19, and have demonstrated remarkable resilience and innovation, in adapting to changed circumstances.”

He continued, ”Recovery will be a European project, an opportunity to celebrate the spirit of European collaboration and mutual support -which will be one of the most important engines of that recovery. I am very happy that this collaboration, built on shared expertise across further and higher education, will continue into the future, as we move closer and forge strong new links across education, skills, research and innovation with France.”

The agreement between the Higher Education Authority and Agence Campus France and the Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) has been renewed and links between Enterprise and Training Boards and the Association Française des Lycées de l’Hôtellerie et du Tourisme (AFLYTH) added to the agreement. The agreement will last until 2027.

Brittany’s Interceltic Festival reflects major cultural tourism success

Reuben O’Conluain, Irish Delegate to the Festival Interceltique de Lorient in Brittany, proudly waves the tricolour flag of his country.

Of the many festivals throughout Europe, indeed throughout the world, none probably illustrate the power of culture in linking nations and strengthening economies than the annual Interceltic Festival in Brittany, France.

Attracting almost 5,000 artists, dancers, musicians and writers each year for ten days in August, the festival InterCeltique, the largest festival in France, brings together people from at least eleven Celtic nations and regions including Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Isle of Man, Galicia, Asturias, Brittany, United States, Canada and Australia. 

“What started as a piping festival in 1971 has now transformed into a multi-national event attracting over three-quarters of a million people,” said Reuben O’Conluain, who has been involved with the festival as a non-paid volunteer from Ireland since 1986, first as a translator for seven years, then as assistant delegate and now for over 20 years as the Irish delegate organising all the Irish musicians who attend. “It’s a terrific occasion, a dynamic fusion of Celtic cultures. Extremely enjoyable in its sheer diversity, openness and warmth. Many lifelong friendships are born there.”

To give an idea of the strength of support from Ireland for the festival, Reuben organises around 140 Irish people to travel every year, including two pipe bands, traditional dancers, musicians and artists. Recognising Ireland’s importance, festival organisers have selected it three times as the ‘spotlight’ country – in 1996, 2005 and 2014.  

The festival will be celebrating its 51st anniversary this August, embracing covers all forms of music, from age-old songs to folk, rock, jazz and symphonic work, all in a prolific, positive creative Celtic environment.  

Music is mixed with cinema, the visual arts, dance, history, literature, instrument-making, and much, much more. It is a veritable living showcase, a brilliant expression of Celtic cosmopolitanism.

French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, former Mayor of Lorient, is an avid supporter of the event. “Everyone involved in this tremendous spectacle should be extremely proud,” he said. “Organising a festival on such a scale requires passion and devotion and a huge amount of organisation. Not only does it celebrate the best of Celtic tradition in the arts but is extremely important economically in terms of cultural tourism throughout Brittany, and indeed France.”  

Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, who was also formerly Mayor of Galway which is twinned with Lorient, said during visit to the festival, “It is absolutely wonderful, such a colourful pageantry celebrating the best in creation in so many ways while highlighting the rich history of the Celts down through the centuries. I admire all those who have worked so hard to make this festival so dynamic for so many years. It is a delight to be here.”

If you are interested to be a partner, contact Ingrid Vaileanu Paun (France) Email and Sean Hillen (Ireland) Email