Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bulgarian Ambassador visits Ballinasloe Library

On Thursday May 17th the Ambassador of Bulgaria, Her Excellency Mrs. Bisserka Benisheva, visited Ballinasloe Branch Library for the official opening of an exhibition entitled "The Cyrillic Alphabet: The New Alphabet of the European Union."
The opening reception was hosted by the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria. Also present from the Embassy was Third Secretary, Mr. Petar Semerdzhiev.

The Ambassador was welcomed to the Ballinasloe Library by Mr. Noel Treacy, TD, Minister of State, with Special Responsibility for European Affairs.

At some point of time, more than 11 centuries ago, Constantine Cyril, the Philosopher, came to Pope Adrian 11 to defend the right to existence of the alphabet he had created---it's sanctity and spiritual meaning, it's validity alongside the Hebrew, the Greek and the Latin alphabet.

Through the exhibition, one discovers not just the way and manner in which the Old Bulgarian alphabets were built, but also the beauty and meaning of a descriptive graphic and poetic symbolism, whereby space, the stars, the rise of the sun, the sea and the land were the foundations for its being brought down to earth for the needs of the enduring human communication.
In the course of his address, Minister Treacy said that "the entry of Bulgaria into the EU means that Cyrillic has now become the third Alphabet in use, in the EU and will contribute another rich and ancient strand to the cultural life of the Union." And he continued: "we are also proud of Ireland’s long association with the Basilica of San Clemente in Rome, where the sacred remains of Saint Cyril are buried. For over three Centuries, the Basilica has been in the care of the Irish Dominicans."

At the opening reception, a poem entitled The Whole World, written by the Bulgarian poet Anton Baev was wonderfully read by Ballinasloe teacher John Boland. This beautiful poem describes a man who is coming back from the market, with the poet asking: "what is he carrying in his bag?" Oranges from Piraeus, it seems, lemons from Egypt, a bottle of tequila from midnight Mexico, a packet of sugar from Brazil.... And the poet concludes: "A shopping bag is enough to hold half the world in it," and he asks: "And what would you need for the whole world?" And the poet’s response is: "a kiss on the threshold when you arrive."

There is something in this poem which connects with "our enduring need for communication." There is also something of what the Spanish writer Adela Cortina describes as a "profound sense of compassion." She points out that it is important to educate citizens in all these dimensions of the heart, especially in the dimension of justice — because otherwise the game is lost before we start. This is an area of education where the public library, through a carefully selected book collection, has a vital role to play.

The heart (cordis in Latin), is the centre, the key to something: to people, for example. Traditionally, it is the home of affection, but also of intelligence, spirit, talent, and even the stomach. Because you have to have stomach, a great deal of it, to fight for justice, and to aspire to happiness, which are the two great goals of ethics. It is important to educate citizens in all these dimensions of the heart. So said Adela Cortina writing this very week in the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

Copies of Adela Cortina’s essay are available at Galway City Library and at Ballinasloe Public Library.
The exhibition and visit by the Bulgarian ambassador was made possible by the Europe Direct Information Centres.

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