Hiberno Goethe: German Irish Conversations: Episode 5: Donnachadh Morgan


This episode features Donnachadh Morgan, barrister at law, son of the late Dermot Morgan and German mother Susanne Morgan (nee Garmaltz). Donnchadh tells us of his experience of his German Irish cultural world, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant from his grandparents’ stories of leaving Silesia and Pomerania to his mother’s journey from Hamburg to the Dublin Horse Show, where she met his father.  

Ciarán and Donnachadh talk about some of the changes in Ireland; from the grim 1980’s with no real coffee, to the schickimicki (fancy) present; the concept of the Wutbürger (the angry German citizen) when something ends up as a Schlamassel (cock-up) like the delayed construction of the Elbphilharmonie; how Germans take the world seriously but can be very loyal and funny, and even romantic, in a 19th Century kind of way. 

Feeling European and with the apron strings ripped from Ireland as the UK exits the EU, Donnachadh sees a lot of opportunities for stronger ties between Ireland and Germany ‘We gave them Christianianty, we might as well give them more butter.’  

Recommendations/items mentioned in this podcast:

  • Golo Mann, Erinnerungen und Gedanken. Eine Jugend in Deutschland. Thomas Mann’s son considering Germany as it slipped into totalitarianism. One of the few books my grandfather actively recommended. Also: Thomas Mann: Buddenbrooks.
  • Stefan Zweig Sternstunden der Menschheit („Decisive Moments in History“) –Admittedly Zweig is Austrian, but this book was ever present on my grandparents’ shelf.
  • Album:Die Mathematik der Anna Depenbusch (best song: “Tim liebt Tina”). In fact, anything by Anna Depenbusch. She exemplifies the German overlooked ability to be both playful and profound with the German language.
  • Claudia Rusch, Meine Freie Deutsche Jugend; engaging and often funny memoir of growing up in East Germany. 
  • The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Rudolf Erich Raspe); Erich Kästner did a great retelling of these tall tales.
  • Heinrich Böll, Irish Journal/Irisches Tagebuch – the book is more about Germany than Ireland, and still informs how many Germans see Ireland. Some Irish people find his representations of Ireland as problematic, but I think exemplifies a naïve fascination with Ireland that exists even today. 
  • Hugo Hamilton, The Speckled People. The conflict of identity for people of my parentage has never been matched in prose as in Hamilton’s poignant (and triggering!) memoir. 
  • Walter Kempowski, Alles umsonst/All for Nothing.; Günther Grass, Im Krebsgang/Crabwalk ; Svenja O’Donnell, Inge’s War. All dealing with the expulsion of Germans from east of the river Order at the end of World War 2 in very different ways. The latter is relatively new and on my list for this year. 
  • Gdansk/Danzig: https://irishacademicpress.ie/product/sean-lester-poland-and-the-nazi-takeover-of-danzig/
  • German Dermot Morgan on Late Late Show https://www.rte.ie/archives/2018/1218/1017840-german-dermot-morgan/

This Podcast dives into the many colours of arts, language and life across cultures. St. Pauli fan and former Düsseldorfer Ciarán Murray and his guests explore the connecting moments of German and Irish life. What do musicians, dancers, artists, writers pick up from either culture? How are they inspired and enriched by the other? For all listeners who like to go and think beyond borders.