Rosena : an Irish artist coming back from France
I arrived in Paris in the late 1980s as a UCD graduate in French and English literature to take up a one-year post as English teacher or « lectrice » at the Sorbonne. However one year went by in the blink of an eye and the city of light kept its vice-like grip on me for over the next twenty. I partly blame watching the Eurovision Song Contests in my childhood for my early interest in all things Gallic! Listening to the voting results in French with its mellifluous « Royaume-Uni douze points » or « Norvège – nul points » over the flatter English renditions, I decided I would live in that country when I got older and learn to decipher and articulate all those beautifully romantic sounds I had started tuning into on long wave radio. And so the language of Molière became second nature to me and although now living back in Ireland the mot juste, often comes to me more easily in French than English.
France afforded me the opportunity to wear several professional caps – sometimes all at the same time, working as a « chargée de cours » at various universities, English language trainer at some of the grandes écoles including Ecole Polytechnique and the Institut National Agronomique, the Ecole du Louvre, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Quai d’Orsay) among others, and also as translator for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique,(nuclear medicine), Nouvelles Images (publishing), and other clients as freelance.
The rich cultural diversity and flourishing artistic environment I found myself in opened the door to a sharing of my own culture and music and offered me a platform to take my passion for music and performance to another level. French audiences were wonderfully attentive listeners and very encouraging of the « artiste » with her ragbag of songs. This also allowed me to work as a full-time professional or « intermittent de spectacle » for several years. During that period I travelled the highways and byways performing a show I had written for children for the organisation Jeunesses Musicales de France comprising music, song and storytelling around the legends of Ireland. I performed regularly as a solo musician and also in various duos, trios and groups with a mainly Irish/American folk style repertoire, giving concerts and workshops around the country.
Now based back in the north west of Ireland on the Sligo/Leitrim border beside Lough Gill, the metro rat is gradually morphing into a mountain goat and taking in the pure and bracing Atlantic air which tastes slightly saltier and healthier than the Paris variety where quality is registered on a daily basis. What a wonderful privilege to have the opportunity to live in one of the most beautiful spots one could imagine where the quality of life is second to none and the people are so warm, welcoming, talented and culturally enthusiastic.
Here, although perhaps not exactly in the same way the Eurovision got its grip on me, I hope to entice the French into coming to visit, learn English or sing with me along the Wild Atlantic Way. Hopefully this will nourish the links I have forged over the years with the many friends I have made in France and keep the connection very much alive in my cross-cultural odyssey from Dubliner to parisienne to west of Ireland-er !