Dublin City Honours Václav Havel On UN Human Rights' Day

Printer-friendly version

On Tuesday 10th December at 12 noon, Lord Mayor Oisín Quinn  will dedicate a living memorial bench at St. Patrick’s Park to the  playwright, dissident and Czech president Václav Havel.  The Lord Mayor will be joined at the ceremony by His Excellency Mr. Tomas Kafka, Ambassador of the Czech Republic, Professor Borek Sipek, friend of Havel and renowned architect and designer of the memorial, and Karel Schwarzenberg, politician and close adviser to Havel.

The memorial called “Václav Havel’s Place” was designed by Borek Sipek and comprises two seats intertwined around a lime tree, the national tree of the Czech Republic.   The idea behind the memorial bench is to create a meeting space for democratic discussion and to encourage freedom of speech.  The first “Václav Havel’s Place” was unveiled in Washington in October 2013 and Dublin is the second city to honour Havel in this way.  Dublin’s sister city Barcelona proposes a similar memorial for 2014.

The Lord Mayor Oisín Quinn said, “I am delighted and honoured to dedicate this living memorial bench to the great and inspirational Václav Havel.  St. Patrick’s Park is a fitting and contemplative setting for “Václav Havel’s Place” as it complements the “Literary Parade” which honours many world renowned Dublin writers such as Jonathan Swift and Samuel Beckett.  Indeed Beckett dedicated a work called “Catastrophe” to Havel.  I hope this memorial will stimulate not only Dublin citizens but the many visitors to this park, to chat, dream and develop ideas.  I would like to thank Dublin City Council,     H.E. Mr. Tomas Kafka, and the Czech Embassy, Bill Shipsey and the friends of Havel for their generous gift to this city.”.  

H.E. Mr. Tomas Kafka, Ambassador of the Czech Republic said,” For any Czech citizen, let alone a representative of our country; it is a great honour to be associated with the legacy and example of our late President Václav Havel. I am very grateful to Bill Shipsey of Art for Amnesty, Dublin´s Lord Mayor Oisin Quinn as well as several Irish friends of Vaclav Havel, including the support of Skoda Ireland, that, thanks to their generosity, we can unveil "Václav Havel´s Place", for Czechs better known as "Václav Havel´s bench", on Human Rights Day in Dublin. This bench symbolizes Václav Havel´s fondness for dialog and communication as one of the crucial foundations for a kinder and more tolerant society. I wish to dedicate to this new monument in Dublin a slogan as unpretentious as President Havel himself: "Let´s hope the world may change/ on Václav Havel´s bench”

Bill Shipsey, Art For Amnesty said, “It is a proud day for Amnesty International and the cause of universal human rights for which Vaclav Havel dedicated his life, that Dublin is dedicating the first 'Havel's Place' in Europe and the first in a public space anywhere in the world in his honour. Vaclav Havel came to Dublin 10 years ago to receive the inaugural Amnesty International 'Ambassador of Conscience' Award from the hand of Seamus Heaney whose poem inspired the Award. We remember both Seamus and Vaclav on this proud day."

“Václav Havel’s Place” memorial was funded by Dublin City Council, H.E. Mr. Tomas Kafka, Ambassador of the Czech Republic and the Czech Embassy, Skoda Ireland, Bill Shipsey and the Friends of Václev Havel. The lime tree was provided by SAP Nurseries.

For further information contact:
Dublin City Council Media Relations Office T. (01) 222 2170
For information on St. Patrick’s Park see http://bit.ly/18jhYzA  
   https://twitter.com/DubCityCouncil         www.facebook.com/DublinCityCouncil  
Notes to the Editor:
Václav Havel (5 October 1936 – 18 December 2011) was a Czech playwright, poet, dissident and politician.  Havel was the last president of Czechoslovakia (1989 – 1992) and the first president of the Czech Republic (1993 – 2003).
Havel, a renowned intellectual, wrote over 20 plays and numerous non-fiction works which were translated internationally.  He was a major figure in the Velvet Revolution of 1989.
At the time of Havel’s death he was Chairman of the New York based Human Rights Foundation.  He was one of the signatories of the Charter 77 Manifesto and a founding signatory of the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism. Havel received the inaugural Amnesty Ambassador of Conscience Award in 2003 in Dublin, among his many awards and recognitions throughout his lifetime .
Borek Sipek
Borek Sipek (born 1949, Prague) is a world renowned Czech architect and designer.  He studied furniture design at the School for Arts & Crafts in Prague, Architecture at the University of Applied Arts in Hamburg and Philosophy at the Technical University in Stuttgart.  He obtained his Doctorate Degree in architecture at the Technical University of Delft in 1979.  From 1990 he was Professor of Architecture at the Prague Academy of Applied Arts and from 1996 to 2004 Professor of Architecture in Vienna at the Academy of Applied Arts.
At the request of Vaclav Havel, he was appointed Court architect of Prague Castle.
Sipek's architectural works can be found throughout the world, and have garnered several major awards such as the title Knight of Arts and Literature of the French Republic in 1991.

His work has been featured in numerous solo exhibitions and can be found in permanent collections in many museums worldwide.   www.boreksipek.com

St. Patrick’s Park.

St. Patricks Park is situated on Patrick’s Street, Dublin 8.  The park was chosen as the location for the bench due to its strong links with world renowned writers born in Dublin as seen in the “Dublin Literary Parade” and because of future plans to install a café within the park next year in keeping with the café society as enjoyed by the Czech Republic.

For more information log on to http://bit.ly/18jhYzA