Irish Embassy's new home linked to Mendelssohns


IRELAND HAS a new home in Berlin, and what a home it is.

The Mendelssohn House on Jägerstrasse once belonged to the famous German family that gave the world the philosopher Moses and his composer grandson Felix.

Now the 1815 building that once housed the famous Mendelssohn Bank has a new tenant: the Irish Embassy.

“We want to turn this building into a place that people will identify with Ireland, we want to make this a place to showcase the best of Ireland in Germany,” said Dan Mulhall, the new Irish Ambassador to Germany.

Combining offices, meeting rooms and performance spaces, the Embassy leaves Ireland well placed to celebrate next year’s 80th anniversary of the first mission to establish diplomatic contacts with Germany.

The move will save €100,000 annually on the premises rented for the past decade on the Friedrichstrasse. The embassy fit-out was covered by the landlord.

At a reception yesterday in the former bank’s decorative cashier hall, the Ambassador and his wife, Greta, welcomed diplomats from the German foreign ministry around the corner and nearby embassies.

Also in attendance were members of Berlin’s Irish community, including actor John Keogh, property developer Adrian O’Sullivan and leading opera singer Paul McNamara.

Dr Thomas Lackmann of the Mendelssohn Society Forum presented the Ambassador with a facsimile of Felix Mendelssohn’s Fantasy on Thomas Moore’s The Last Rose of Summer.

Also included was a pamphlet entitled “Ireland: An Example of Power Politics, based on a stirring speech given in 1919 in Oxford by Albrecht Mendelssohn Bartholdy, grandson of the composer.

“Ireland will never be English again,” he wrote in a stirring argument in favour of Irish independence.

“Only two things remain open to it: the founding of a United States of Europe or to be a free member of a European federation of states.”

Ambassador Mulhall has promised to hold events at the embassy to promote the building’s links with the Mendelssohn family.

The Irish diplomats monitoring German affairs from their new home on the Jägerstrasse can do the same simply by following the old Mendelssohn family motto, “Ich wache”: “I watch.”