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‘A life of two exiles: Wacław Tadeusz Dobrzyński (1883-1962)’

11 May 2017

Listen Back: Lunchtime Lecture in association with the Polish Embassy's exhibition on the life and career of Consul-General Wacław Tadeusz Dobrzyński.

Ian Cantwell, grandson of the Consul-General Wacław Tadeusz Dobrzyński, gave a talk on his grandfather at the Royal Irish Academy on 10 May, 13:00.

Commemorating the birth of diplomatic relations between Poland and Ireland, this lecture accompanies an exhibition focusing on the life and career of Consul-General Wacław Tadeusz Dobrzyński, the first Polish diplomatic to serve in Ireland and one of the longest-serving diplomats in the history of the state.

The exhibition commences with Dobrzyński’s early life in Kiev (1885-1914), his service in the Great War, the post-war period in Free Warsaw and his first diplomatic posting, to Tallinn, where he served from 1922 to 1925.  Dobrzyński spent the following 33 years in Dublin,  firstly as consul from 1929 to 1931. In 1931 the consulate was closed by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but   Dobrzyński returned later that year as Hon. Consul-General ─ an unsalaried position.

Dobrzyński immersed himself in Irish life and culture, in his turn promoting Polish cultural activities and reporting on Irish political affairs for the Kurier Warszawski/Warsaw Daily.  The occasion of the first ever Ireland-Poland soccer match, in 1938, to which Dobrzyński invited the President, Douglas Hyde and Taoiseach, Éamon de Valera, led to uproar in the press ─ Hyde was removed as patron of the GAA owing to the ban on foreign games.

The unfolding of the second World War, as seen from Dublin and from a Polish perspective, and the ravage of Poland are examined as well as the Dublin consulate’s relationship with the Polish government in exile (London, 1940-57).  Dobrzyński gradually withdrew from the diplomatic service, moving to the countryside but maintaining an active interest in political affairs until his death in 1962. His daughter Krystyna continued her father’s work in the promotion of Polish culture in Ireland.

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