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HE Martina Feeney on the eve of Ireland's National Day

20 landmark buildings across Bulgaria will be lit up in green to honour St Patrick's Day

The clock tower in Tryavna
Photo: ireland.ie/bulgaria

On St. Patrick's Day, March 17 the Embassy of the Republic of Ireland in Bulgaria will light in green 20 landmark buildings across Bulgaria. There will be also two literary exhibitions dedicated to Irish famous Nobel ‎prize winners writers – James Joyce and Samuel Beckett. Beckett will be ‎presented in Tryavna while Joyce will be presented at Veliko Tarnovo ‎University where there is a faculty of Irish literature.‎

St. Patrick's Day has been officially celebrated in Bulgaria since 2016. The Irish people who reside permanently in Bulgaria number several hundred, as several thousand own houses here.

HE Martina Feeney, Ireland's Ambassador in Sofia, who is also the Irish ‎Ambassador to Armenia and Georgia in a non-resident capacity, talks to BNR's ‎Assia Chaneva about the upcoming holiday, bilateral relations, her special place in Bulgaria, and cultural and historical similarities between the two nations.

HE Martina Feeney

This year the holiday is more special. 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the Republic of Ireland's membership of the European Union, and April marks 74 years since the country was declared a republic, says Ambassador Feeney:

Ireland and Bulgaria are both members of the European Union and there ‎is good cooperation between the two countries, says Ambassador Feeney. Many Irish companies, particularly in the property sector, left Bulgaria ‎after the 2008 crash.  However, there are a number of Irish businesses ‎located here now that work mainly in the services sector. There are well-‎established direct air links between Dublin and Sofia and in the summer ‎there are also direct flights to Burgas.‎

The National Library in Sofia
Ireland consistently runs a trade surplus with Bulgaria in both goods and ‎services. Irish whiskey and dark beer are particularly popular in the ‎Bulgarian market.‎ Which are the most popular Irish products in Bulgaria now and vice versa - what Bulgarian products can be purchased in Ireland?

"I am delighted that this year 20 buildings across Bulgaria will ‎light up in green for Saint Patrick's Day.‎ Let me just mention a few - here in Sofia, obviously, the ‎embassy building we will light up in green, but also the ‎National Library, Sofia City Library, The Opera and Ballet ‎house, and the Military club will be lit up in green.‎

‎Veliko Tarnovo this year for the first time will light up ‎Tzarevets fortress in green, in Vidin we'll have Baba Vida ‎fortress in green, Tryavna which has a twinning relationship ‎with an Irish town will light up its city clock tower and in ‎Plovdiv, the amphitheatre is going to be lit up in green for the ‎first time.‎

So we hopefully will have photographs and images from all of ‎those buildings and we'll put them up on our website,‎" shares Ambassador Feeney.

Veliko Tarnovo University with Tsarevets Fortress in the background
About 870 Irish people in Bulgaria hold permanent or long-term residence ‎certificates.  Many of these are students at the medical universities and ‎we estimate that a maximum of 500 Irish people live in Bulgaria, says HE Martina Feeney.‎

Photos: ireland.ie/bulgaria
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