MIC opens Franco-German House

Friday 28 September saw the opening of the Franco-German House at MIC by the French Ambassador to Ireland, Her Excellency Madame Emmanuelle d’Achon, and the German Ambassador to Ireland, His Excellency Dr Eckard Lübkemeier.
The Franco-German House is the result of a joint-initiative by the departments of French Studies and German Studies at Mary Immaculate College. It stems from the need to create a space where students of French and German could meet, socialise, speak French and/or German and have access to audio-visual resources in both languages. In May 2010 a proposal to create such a space on campus was put forward to the President of Mary Immaculate College by Dr Christiane Schönfeld (Head of German Studies) and Dr Loïc Guyon (Head of French Studies). In April 2011 the College management offered to transform Summerville Lodge into a social and study space for students of French and German.

Summerville Lodge is a listed building erected on campus in the 1870s. Having been left unused for many years it required a full restoration work in compliance with the standards of the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Staff from the departments of French Studies and German Studies were given the opportunity by College management to submit a detailed proposal to the architect as to how they wanted the interior of the building and the surrounding areas to be designed.
The house is surrounded by a landscaped garden and four flag posts stand in front of it bearing the European, French, German and Irish flags. The living room has been turned into a social space where students will be able to meet, practice their French and/or German, read French/German newspapers and magazines and watch French/German television or DVDs. The other main room (study room) will be a work space equipped with computers. There will be 8 work stations which are destined to be used primarily by postgraduate students from both departments. The Franco-German House will also serve as a base for special events (research seminars, film screenings, sport events screenings, etc.)

MIC’s investment in the restoration and refurbishment of Summerville Lodge shows that the College recognises the importance of the study of foreign languages and cultures as academic subjects and takes seriously its role in training highly skilled language professionals and experts in transnational and intercultural communication.
According to College President, Prof. Michael A Hayes, “Summerville Lodge, our new Franco-German House, will contribute to enabling our students to master, not only another European language (French/German), but to grasp the importance of intercultural skills for the benefit of the European community of which we are a part.”

Speaking at the official opening, Ambassador Lübkemeier gave the audience an overview of the development of the Franco-German relationship since World War II, which he described as, “one of the closest, if not the closest relationship of any two countries, a partnership both within Europe and for Europe.” He spoke of this relationship as, “a work in progress, which must be developed further by every generation,” and explained that “the baton now falls to the youth of France and Germany and to students such as those who will use Summerville House, to bring us together as Europeans!”
Ambassador d’Achon noted, “It is quite fitting that this house has opened in the same year that Limerick was designated as the first National City of Culture in 2014. I hope the different projects that will take place in the House will deepen and strengthen the Franco-German contribution to the issues of our times and play a role in offering alternative economic solutions, sustainable development and the promotion of European citizenship and identity. Vive la relation franco-allemande en terre irlandaise!”