Alain Hespel

The Members of the Board of the Fondation Irlandaise in Paris, as well as the Strategy Committee and staff of the Centre Culturel Irlandais are deeply saddened by the sudden death of the Chair of the Board, Monsieur Alain Hespel.

Monsieur Hespel joined the Board of the Fondation in June 2004 and was elected Chairperson in November 2004. He had already been appointed to the English and Scottish Colleges in Paris in 2002 and was subsequently elected Chair. As ‘Président de Chambre’ from 2008, Monsieur Hespel was part of the senior administration of the ‘Cour des Comptes’ (State Auditors) and his service was acknowledged in 2015 when he was made an Officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honour, with a ceremony held in the Centre Culturel Irlandais and presided by the politician and former ‘Premier Président’ of the Cour des Comptes, Didier Migaud in 2016.  

During his 17 years as Chair of the Fondation Irlandaise, Monsieur Hespel embraced change and was particularly invested in the Prix de thèse, which he established in 2013, to reward a doctoral thesis written in French with an Irish dimension. The Fondation Irlandaise and Centre Culturel Irlandais owe him a huge debt of gratitude for the 17 years he served as Chair of the Board, supporting all CCI directors and bringing energy and dedication, as well as his vast experience and insight, to the role. His diplomatic skills ensured he was well able to liaise with his Irish colleagues to further the objectives and ambitions of the CCI. In his most recent role as Chair in late November 2021, he delivered a speech at the Irish Embassy in Paris thanking the former Irish Ambassador to France, Patricia O’Brien, for her support of the CCI before her departure for a new diplomatic posting in Rome, a happy occasion when a small number of Board and Strategy Committee and staff members were able to gather and celebrate the success of the CCI.

Monsieur Hespel stepped down from his duties at both the Scottish and English Colleges some years ago, but fortunately his affection for the Irish Foundation and the Centre Culturel Irlandais and its team compelled him to remain as Chair until his untimely death. We will miss him, his big heart and sense of humanity, as well as his gentle sense of humour and self-deprecation. May he rest in peace.