French government honours Pratschke


DIRECTOR OF the Irish Cultural Centre in Paris Sheila Pratschke last night paid tribute to the cultural ties that bind Ireland and France after she was awarded the French government’s Ordre National du Mérite.

“Our two countries stand tall in the world because of our culture, our artists, and our support for our artists,” she told those gathered at the residence of French ambassador Yvon Roé d’Albert in Dublin.

Ms Pratschke recalled the history of the Irish College in Paris, of which the cultural centre is part, and talked of the role the college would play in the future. The award “is a recognition by the French government of the renaissance of the college and its place in French cultural life; a recognition of the activities of Irish artists and an awareness of who we are, and what we do in the contemporary sense,” she said.

Ambassador Roé d’Albert said Ms Pratschke had been made a Chevalier in the Ordre National du Mérite in order to highlight her work as a “great promoter” of Irish culture.

“The Ordre National du Mérite is conferred on people who have promoted our values and our culture. Sheila Pratschke is one such person,” Patrick Debut, cultural and scientific counsellor at the French embassy, said.

“Ms Pratschke has undertaken some extremely challenging projects. She has been in charge of the ambitious programme for the restoration of the historic library of the Irish Cultural Centre.”

Ms Pratschke said she was “deeply touched”. Before her appointment in 2007, she was director of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Co Monaghan. Prior to that, she was director of the Irish Film Institute in Dublin.

She has worked in the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Kerlin Gallery and University College Dublin in addition to working on a number of international arts festivals, including L’Imaginaire L’Irlandais.