As probably the one most involved with the teaching of Chinese in Ireland, Dr Liming Wang of the Confucian Institute in UCD visited Dalgan recently in search of news about a Chinese gentleman said to have taught Chinese to Irish China-bound missionaries back in the 1930s.
Was he the first Chinese teacher in Ireland and what happened to him?
Further research is necessary to get the answers but one result of his visit was an invitation to a group from Dalgan to visit the Confucian Institute.
It is an imposing building, more Chinese inside than outside. It cost nine million Euro, with a third each coming from the Chinese government, UCD and the Irish government.
The number of Chinese leaders who have visited it shows their keen interest in Ireland. It is said that Deng Xiaoping, who re-opened China to the world economy and culture by establishing duty-free economic zones in three ports in China, was inspired by the Shannon Duty Free Zone.
Whether Ireland has fully availed of its opportunities to be actively involved in China’s growing economy is questioned in a book entitled ‘Doing Business with China: The Irish Advantage and Challenge’ co-authored by Dr Wang and his wife Dr Lan Li.
I look forward to reading it as it discusses cultural and historical similarities between China and Ireland. Dr Lan Li is a cultural anthropologist and obviously contributed much of the culture-related material.
That book is now on my summer reading list and I hope to share her insights and reflections soon.