The Committee visit President Higgins in Arus an Uachtarain
To mark the 25th Gerard Manley Hopkins Festival, President Michael D. Higgins invited the Committee to his Residence in Phoenix Park on Monday 2nd July. Aprior engagement had prevented his attending the Opening and Classical Concert in Newbridge College on Saturday July 21st - an event he had attended last year, when he also read some of his own poems.
In his Address, President Higgins spoke warmly of the work of this voluntary Society praising its
commitment to and upholding of genuine artistic standards in these difficult times. The work of the Committee, maintained steadfastly over 25 years, was crucially important in the life of the County and indeed of the Country at large, he said. It offered not only a forum for appreciation of the poetry of one of his own favourite poets, Hopkins, but it also gave a forum to Irish and indeed international poets, artists and musicians. Such cross-pollination was the very stuff of culture, he suggested. He went on to say that by representing Hopkins's wide cultural interests, including Music and Art - in both of which areas Hopkins was also gifted - the Festival had shown that it was not merely for specialists and scholars (much as we value their contribution) but offered wider cultural opportunities to the community at large. This was something which he particularly admired and thought its importance could hardly be exaggerated.
Making a presentation on behalf of the Society, Artistic Director, poet Desmond Egan said that the country was thrilled at the way in which President Higgins had set about fulfilling his vision of the Office. We were proud to have such a cultured representative speak for us - and one whose interest in human rights was well known. Mr. Egan remembered a moment in 1985 when he was bringing a letter to the Aquino Government in the Philippines requesting action over the disappearance of Human Rights activist Rudy Romano: the one Member of the Oireachtas who made a point of accompanying him to Dublin Airport was Michael D.Higgins.
After refreshments were served, The Committee enjoyed a full Guided Tour of the building, with its historic portraits and artefacts. A memorable day for the Group described by Desmond as the best Committee in the 25-year history of the Hopkins Festival.
The Festival runs from July 21 to 27 and highlights include a Concert by legendary pianist Hans Palsson on Sat. 21st; a Banquet in Maynooth College; a full parallel Youth Programme for Secondary students all week; a Concert by Frankie Gavin on Tuesday 24th; Readings; Lectures by outstanding scholars; Workshops; a remarkable Art Exhibition etc. Something for everyone in a Programme not to be missed.