Bernard O’Connor Award 2023 awarded to Krakow Festival Office (KBF)
News22 March 2023
The Bernard O’Connor Award celebrates those who have made a significant contribution to friendship, cooperation and understanding between Ireland and Poland. The award was established by the Irish Embassy in 2018 and honours another important figure in the story of Irish-Polish relations, Bernard O’Connor. Once a physician at the court of King Jan Sobieski III, the Irish man also wrote the first history of Poland in English.
On St. Patrick’s Day, 17 March, the Ambassador of Ireland to Poland, Patrick Haughey, presented the Bernard O’Connor Award 2023 to representatives from Krakow Festival Office / Krakowskie Biuro Festiwalowe (KBF).
KBF have been a key partner for the Embassy in recent years in promoting Irish culture in Krakow, most notably the new Heaney-Miłosz Residency for writers in Ireland, launched in 2022. Irish-American poet Alice Lyons was selected for the first edition of the Residency, to take place in the former apartment of Polish writer Czesław Miłosz in Krakow in October 2023.
When presenting the Award to KBF, Ambassador Haughey spoke of the significant support provided by KBF, which made the Residency possible. “KBF have shown unwavering support to the Embassy and all Irish partners in our efforts to promote and celebrate Irish literature in Poland. Thanks to this excellent cooperation, we have established the Heaney-Miłosz Residency in Krakow, a celebration of the friendship between Czesław Miłosz and Seamus Heaney, which will further cement the long-standing cultural ties between Poland and Ireland”.
Deputy Director for Programmes, Michael Łyczek from KBF thanked the Ambassador for the Award, noting the importance of international partners, such as the Irish Embassy, for their ongoing work in cultural promotion. “The establishment of the Heaney-Miłosz Residency is an important long-term project to further the many literary links between Ireland and Poland. We hope that this initiative will provide the foundation for excellent cooperation with Ireland in the coming years”.
Director of the Literature Department in KBF, Elżbieta Fołtyniak added that the friendship between Heaney and Miłosz was the perfect basis for the shared Residency project. “During the visit of Catherine and Chris Heaney to the Miłosz apartment in July 2022, we spotted a previously unknown letter from Seamus Heaney to his friend with a poem, framed and hanging on the wall. This wonderful moment demonstrated the importance of this connection for our cooperation with the Heaney Estate and the Embassy of Ireland”.
KBF is a municipal cultural institution of the city of Krakow, working to promote and support a variety of cultural projects, including in literature and film.
KBF is the operator of the UNESCO City of Literature title, which was granted to Krakow in 2013.
Each year, KBF is the main organiser of two large and high-profile literary festivals in Krakow, namely the Miłosz Festival (July) and the Conrad Festival (October). These prestigious festivals welcome writers from across the world and are a highlight in the Polish cultural calendar.