Austro-Irish Society History

The Austro-Irish Society was founded in 1969 in response to the needs created by an influx of Irish people coming to work for the UN organisations and for Semperit.  It had its origins in the “Irish Club”, set up in the 1950s by Mary Kohlseisen and Marigold Slocock. The Society provided a point of contact for the Irish at a time when there was no resident Ambassador in Vienna, and long before the Irish pubs started to appear on the scene.

Its long-term aim was to promote cultural and economic ties, as well as ties of friendship and understanding between Ireland and Austria. This was achieved by the organisation of lectures, slide shows, social get-togethers and most importantly, by a student exchange programme “English in Ireland”, a language study scheme for Austrian students in Ireland, organised by Carmel Paul-Fahy.

Consul General Gustav Steiner was the Society’s first President. He very ably represented Irish interests in pre-Embassy days, when Ireland was practically unknown in Austria in terms of a holiday destination. Through Dr, Steiner’s influence and contacts the Society gained a number of important dignitaries on its Curatorium as well as sponsors such as Semperit, Porsche, Aer Lingus, and various insurance companies and travel agencies. He hosted splendid St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at the Palais Pallavicini as well as organising many other social events for the Irish community and Austrian friends of Ireland. He remained President until his untimely death in 1990.
In 1970 Donal Brennan, Director of Aer Lingus, came to Vienna and very quickly began to play an important role in promoting Ireland as a sought-after travel destination, as well as becoming an influential member of our Committee. Other Committee members such as Mary Kohlseisen, Carmel Paul-Fahy, and later Caroline Arlamovsky as General Secretary, continued to work unstintingly in the interests of the Society.

In 1990 Dipl.-Ing. Diether Schlinke was elected President, with Ms. Caroline Arlamovsky as General Secretary. Diether Schlinke started the publication and circulation of the “Irische Blätter” to members and friends of the Society in November 1991. Furthermore he is the author of several publications on the Celts. In 1991 Ms. Joan Canning-Jagschitz took over the position of General Secretary. On her initiative regular meetings (Irish Meeting Point) were introduced.

An important Society event took place in November 2001 with the unveiling of a Memorial Stone dedicated to Field Marshall Franz Moritz Graf de Lacy, in the Mausoleum in the Schwarzenberg Park. Graf de Lacy, the most prominent member of the “Wild Geese” (members of Irish aristocratic families who fled Ireland in the 17th and 18th century) was a personal adviser to Empress Maria Theresa and her son Joseph II.

In February 2004 MinR.Mag. Ingo Kordik was elected President, with Ms. Phyllis Frauenberger as Executive Vice-President.  The creation of a Homepage (www.austro-irish.at) gave new impetus to the Society’s activities, especially to the attendance at the Irish Meeting Points, where regular Pub quizes, Pub crawls, Ballad sessions, slide shows etc. are held.  The Society regularly organises or co-organises activities with other Societies or Associations, such as the Austro-American Society, “Mittendrin”, and Cumann Céilí Vín.

The Society has the privilege to organise the St. Patrick’s Day Mass at the Schottenkirche in Vienna every year.  At the St. Patrick’s Day Mass in March 2010, the Irish Ambassador to Austria, HE Frank Cogan and MinR.Mag. Ingo Kordik presented an English Missal and Lectionary to the Abbot and Community of the Schottenstift, in recognition of the ties existing between our two nations down through the centuries.

All activities undertaken by the Society are constantly kept up to date on our Homepage.