The ACCOR Group is the AEHT’s long-standing partner in the organisation of teacher placements, and the Group is represented by Frédérique Poggi who was introduced to us in Copenhagen by Gilles Honegger, from whom she took over this role. But this did not prevent Gilles from coming to Killarney, though this time we were no longer treated to his party piece in which, with his booming voice he urged the teachers to avail themselves of the opportunities offered by the ACCOR Group. Frédérique Poggi’s tone is more gentle, but her manner just as direct!
On the excursions into the National Park and especially in Muckross Gardens or on the ‘mining trail’ the participants could admire really magnificent trees, some of them several hundred years old. An Austrian was prompted to say, without the flicker of a smile, ‘They can’t have many forest fires here.’ Very true, given the guaranteed rainfall …
Nothing had been left to chance. Throughout the competitions a ‘Knights of Malta’ ambulance crew was always on stand-by, though fortunately their services were never needed.
Yes. Well Done. Bravo to all those teams wearing the light-green T-shirts who spared no effort throughout the Conference to ensure that everyone was well looked after. These were students – and it’s a shame that they were not given a round of applause at the gala evening, though they certainly deserved it.
In such a large gathering of professionals it is only right to give them all the chance to see the best offers in terms of work uniforms and equipment. So there were two stands – those of the Italian Marco Esposto (Casa della Divisa) and the Irishman Colm Cross (Diamond Edge) each occupying its allocated space, as well as a stand selling merchandise bearing the AEHT logo.
On their return from the various excursions on Saturday November 11th those who went past the reception desk of the Gleneagle hotel could admire a small exhibition of mushrooms, no doubt brought back from one of the rambles which took place that day. What a good idea!
You can’t smoke in public places in Ireland. It is strictly prohibited and there are notices everywhere reminding you of the law. But this doesn’t stop the Irish from smoking – they merely go out in to the fresh air to light up.
We’ve all seen that Ireland uses its rainy weather in its tourist brochures, and Fįilte Ireland didn’t miss the opportunity either: in the document case (full of useful brochures) given to each participant there was a waterproof cape, in yellow or blue. Some people were very glad to make use of them during the excursions!
The large INEC hall had to be converted for the purposes of the culinary arts competitions, and no fewer than twelve kitchen compartments had been created from scratch. No mean task. And to make way for the gala evening these same kitchens were dismantled in just one day. Bravo!
Irish dancing is world famous, so the conference organisers had arranged dancing classes for the participants. These workshops were never overcrowded but the teachers were not short of work. Among the pupils was Klaus Enengl, director of the Bad Ischl hotel school and AEHT vice-president who gave a demonstration of his new skills during the cocktail party just before the gala evening. And who should be his partner – why Nadine Schintgen, AEHT General Secretary!
Those who took part in various excursions guided by students from Killarney or Tralee were asked to fill out a short questionnaire as a means of evaluating both the quality of the excursion in question and the competence of the guides. Of course the questionnaires were anonymous and the content would have no consequences for the trainee guides!
The organisers had planned to give each participant a badge, but unfortunately the printer in Dublin had made a mistake and had produced badges which were difficult to read. The entire batch had to be returned, and that is why the first participants to arrive could not be issued with badges.
The teams of teachers and students given the task of greeting the conference participants certainly had their work cut out over these few days, especially on the first day when they had to deal with very large numbers of enquiries. But they always had a broad smile, and sometimes there was Irish background music provided by a real live band.
Happy birthday Romana
At breakfast on November 11th the Austrian table was especially lively. The Austrians had helped themselves to the roses from the other tables and at the given signal they struck up the traditional ‘happy birthday to you’ for Romana Bauer from the Bad Leonfelden school. Courtesy prevents us from revealing the year of her birth, but let us say that she looks much younger than her age! And to crown it all, her birthday was toasted in champagne. At eight o’clock in the morning. They don’t do things by halves do they, these Austrians!
We all know that making Irish coffee is a basic skill for all Irishmen. Michael Griffith gave an amazing demonstration of this art: in batches of five at a time he prepared this unique brew strictly according to the rules, thus delighting his audience.
In the conference bag given out on arrival, and filled with useful documentation on Ireland, there was a magnetic object consisting of the two items used in the national sport, hurley: a small ball and a stick. The ancestor of hockey in a way. An excellent idea for a souvenir, coming as it did with a stylised map of Ireland. Really great!
At the prize-giving ceremony four little girls from the Irish dancing troupe, dressed in traditional costumes, were given the task of bringing the certificates and medals to be presented by the VIPs. President Louis Robert couldn’t resist posing for a photograph with them at the end of the ceremony. It will make a pretty souvenir for all concerned!
Usually buffet breakfasts are an excellent idea, but on the first day there was quite a queue at rush hour, around eight o’clock. You had to prove your identity by showing your badge before you could get into the restaurant. But once you were seated, no problem, and on the following days things ran smoothly.
Congratulations are also in order to the Gleneagle kitchens for the buffets they produced for our midday and evening meals. These buffets offered a wide variety of appetising and plentiful food and the participants found them … irresistible!
As you might expect, the delegates and Presidium members were by no means idle since the Annual Conference is a busy time in the AEHT calendar. Thus the Presidium held two meetings in the Leinster suite at the Brehon hotel and the Executive Board made up of the national representatives met in the Brehon’s Park suite.
This is a fine euphemism used to describe a rainy day – as Kevin Moriarty explained with a smile as he introduced his great friend Dame Geraldine Keagan before she delivered her lecture. And it’s true that for someone from continental Europe this counted as real ‘rainy weather’.
At the bar of the Gleneagle there was a row of little piggy bank collection boxes for a variety of good causes. It was up to whiskey and Guinness drinkers to give a little something while standing at the bar. What a nice idea.
Teams with video cameras worked hard to produce live transmissions of the competitions. But his wasn’t their only use. Kevin Moriarty also used them to explain the ins and outs of the Conference to journalist colleagues.