“I’m pretty content with what I’ve done during my time,” Ralph Victory told The Portugal News. He is Ambassador of Ireland to the Portuguese Republic, as well as to Angola, Cape Verde, and Guinea-Bissau on a non-resident basis. “My main job is to solve the problems that Irish citizens living in Portugal may encounter,” as well as maintaining the political, commercial and cultural ties between the countries.

Relations between Portugal and Ireland have been around since the beginning of their respective civilisations. Back in the days before Rome, the Iberian Peninsula had a significant number of Celts, including the modern-day Portuguese North. Their presence on the peninsula was overshadowed by the arrival of Romans, but cultural elements remain to this day, including the historical figure Viriato, a Celt clan leader who fiercely resisted Roman conquest.

In the Middle Ages, exchange in goods and culture started up again between the Kingdom of Portugal and the Irish kingdoms, with the West and South coasts of Ireland contributing massively to defending the wine trade across the Atlantic. Starting from the Cromwellian war in Ireland, more Irish people emigrated from the island, many seeking refuge in Portugal. Over time, this formed a solid diaspora, especially in Lisbon.

Official relations

Diplomatic relations between the two countries officially opened in 1942, 5 years after the adoption of the constitution officially naming the country and found themselves in the EU together. Nowadays, “the two countries are natural allies,” reads the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs’ statement on Portugal on their site, “and have a strong tradition of working together in partnership.”

“I think I’ve learned a lot about Portugal,” the Ambassador considered. He talked about the history of the nation, which he had taken an interest in, as well as showing off his language skills. “I know a bit of Portuguese,” he said in Portuguese.

When asked about his favourite aspects of the Portuguese culture, Ralph Victory named the traditional dances that are performed at local fairs, as well as the ever-famous Portuguese gastronomy. His favourite piece of the cultural canon, though, are the works of José Saramago, the Nobel prize-winning author, creator of novels such as “The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis,” “Death with Interruptions” and “Skylight,” as they’re known in their official English translations.

Top tips

The Ambassador also had a few travel suggestions, both for Irish tourists coming to Portugal and for Portuguese tourists going to Ireland. Around Lisbon, he recommends the coastal town of Cascais and Sintra, home of the Pena palace. “Outside of Lisbon,” he continued, “there’s Porto, Peso da Régua, Coimbra, Madeira, the Azores...” His favourite place in Portugal, however, is Sagres, the Southwestern tip of Portugal and of historical significance pertaining to Henry the Navigator, who owned the area and used it along with places like Lagos as his base of operations. For Portuguese tourists, he recommends the city of Dublin and the Atlantic coast.

Now, he leaves his post as Ambassador behind to return to Ireland, where he’ll wait for his next appointment. “I believe Portugal is a country with great prospects.” Ralph Victory concluded. “Next year, it celebrates its 50th anniversary as a democracy.” He pointed out the challenges that they may face soon, such as the consequences of the war in Ukraine, supply chain disruptions, climate change, and inflation, but believes Portugal is well-equipped to deal with anything coming.

There has been no confirmation yet on who will replace Mr. Victory in the post of ambassador.


Star in the 2015 music video for the hit single “Headlights” by German musician, DJ and record producer Robin Schulz featuring American singer-songwriter Ilsey. Also a journalist.

Jay Bodsworth