Romantic Ireland alive and well in Paris as stars recite the poems of Yeats
Published 19/09/2012 | 05:00
HE is probably better versed in berating world leaders for not doing enough to help find more solutions to world hunger and poverty.
But global campaigner Bob Geldof cast off his more familiar public image last night as he turned all poetic to help celebrate a special birthday of Irish culture in Paris.
The scene was the courtyard of the restored Centre Culturel Irlandais -- better known as the Irish College in the French capital.
Geldof, the high-profile former Boomtown Rats singer, joined Irish actress, Sinead Cusack; singer Marianne Faithfull; and actress Charlotte Rampling before a captivated audience of around 800 who had gathered to hear the special guests read from some of the works of WB Yeats.
The 'Live Aid' creator, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his continuing efforts to eradicate world hunger, read six of Yeats' poems, including his 'September 1913' poem with its immortal line: 'Romantic Ireland's dead and gone.'
"It was part of the idea that poetry can be given new light through great voices and we witnessed that here tonight," said poet and broadcaster, Vincent Woods, who introduced the line-up of special readers at last night's event.
Geldof and friends travelled to the Irish centre to mark the 10 years since the college reopened to the public.
But last night's special poetry hour was also a tribute to Irish author and poetry anthologist Josephine Hart, who died suddenly last June.
Over a seven-year period at the British Library in London, she presented poetry read by actors and public figures including Geldof.
"It was a wonderful evening and all of the guests read magnificently and brought a passion of their own to Yeats' work," said Mr Woods.
"What was remarkable was the response of the audience. They loved it."
Situated in the heart of Paris, the centre first opened as the College des Irlandais in 1775 and built an international reputation.
Even Napoleon was persuaded by college superior Jean-Baptiste Walsh to change the name of its street in 1807 from rue du Cheval Vert to rue des Irlandais.
To mark its 10th birthday, a series of cultural events have been taking place at the college, including an enormous dolls' house installation in the courtyard by sculptor Patrick O'Reilly and an exhibition exploring the life and work of WB Yeats.