Volunteers and long time residents of Luxembourg manning the Ireland stand at Luxembourg's Bazar International: (l-r) Debbie Hearsey, Bryan Rose, Annette Power and Liam Egan. / © Ramunas Astrauskas
The Irish stand has been a mainstay at the BIL for almost 50 years, bringing the best of Ireland thanks to the 'big hearts' of its team.
An estimated 1,800 Irish coffees will be served at Luxembourg's Bazar International taking place at LuxExpo this weekend.
Visitors from all over the world will be making a beeline to the Ireland stand to enjoy the fashionable beverage with many having it on their to do-list when arriving at the event.
Championing the best of Irish produce, the Ireland stand has been a mainstay of the fundraising event for almost five decades thanks to the team of 12 dedicated Irish, English, Scottish and French volunteers, who are long-term residents of Luxembourg.
Incredibly, for 47 of those years the effort has been led by the same person.
A long lasting relationship
Annette Power, originally from Dublin, moved to Luxembourg with her husband Richard in 1976 and immediately got involved in the initiative. At the time, only around 10 countries had stands at the event.
As president of the stand, Annette is proud to see produce from her home country being embraced so readily by people from all over the world who flock to the bazaar.
The appeal, she believes, is in the high quality of the goods which represent "the best of what Ireland has to offer".
Along with the popular Irish coffees, traditional fare that proves to be a solid hit year after year is the Irish organic smoked salmon "savories" served on soda bread with butter and garnish which "fly out the door," she attests. Adding that homemade touch, fresh soda bread loaves have been baked especially for the event by volunteer Nives Johnson.
Pre sliced and whole sides of Irish organic smoked salmon, wool sweaters and blankets, mohair throws, linens and pottery, all from specialist producers located across Ireland are among the traditional goods available at the stand.
And the authenticity doesn't stop there. The wooden stand itself that will be in place over the weekend was hand carved and painted back in 1988 by a former volunteer Fr Pat O’Connor, who was parish priest of the English-speaking Catholic community in Luxembourg from 1985 to 1999.
As diligent and organised as the team of volunteers are in the run up to the event, there can sometimes be factors outside their control hampering plans, like the weather, Annette adds.
"One year we nearly didn't receive our delivery of smoked salmon. We are always at the mercy of the weather and one year there was very heavy fog here so the flight carrying the salmon couldn't land in Luxembourg, so it was diverted to Metz. The produce couldn't be offloaded in Metz as the paperwork stated Luxembourg as the destination.
"So, it had to be flown back to London. That was on the Thursday before the event started. We ended up getting a van to drive overnight from Luxembourg to London to pick the salmon up and drive back. Happily, it arrived on time and we ended up selling the 600 sides of salmon," Annette recalls, with just a hint of relief.
A hardworking team
Lauding the ongoing, unwavering commitment of the team to the large-scale event, bazaar management committee vice-president Charlotte De Vreeze complimented the volunteers' "can do" approach.
Some of the team at the Ireland stand at Bazar International de Luxembourg / © Ramunas Astrauskas
Speaking ahead of the event she said: "The Ireland stand is in fact among the biggest contributors to our event. Annette Power and Bryan Rose, who share the responsibility of running the Irish stand, are very loyal and dependable.
"They are lovely, lovely people who have been with the bazaar for many, many years. They have a 'can do' mentality, are super hard workers and have such big, warm hearts. I was truly in awe of their dedication and hard work. I take my hat off to them," she added.
Further underpinning their effort, a spokesperson for the Irish Embassy in Luxembourg paid tribute to the group's tireless effort in promoting Irish culture and their personal investment in the event.
"The Ireland Stand Committee are an institution here in Luxembourg and have always provided an amazing array of Irish products every year, including their famous Irish coffee. We want to emphasise that they put in an enormous amount of work and we’re very grateful for their dedication."
In the last six years alone, the Ireland stand has raised approximately €150,000 for the bazaar's nominated charities.
This year, the stand's nominated charity is i4Life. Set up in 2009, the charity supports the nutritional needs of children under 5 in Lusaka, Zambia.
RTL at the BIL
RTL was at the Bazar International de Luxembourg and embarked on a tasty culinary journey. Check out the video below for a few ideas on how you can line your stomach before trying that yummy Irish coffee.