President of Ireland at a Reception at St. Mary’s Guildhall, Coventry

Address by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland

At a Reception at St. Mary’s Guildhall, Coventry

Friday, 11th April 2014

A dhaoine uaisle, a chairde. Tá an-áthas orm bheith anseo libh inniu.

I am delighted to bring a memorable State Visit to a close in a city with so many Irish connections, and in a place that enjoys great renown as a symbol of peace and reconciliation.

I would like to thank Coventry City Council and, in particular, Councillor Gary Crookes, Lord Mayor of Coventry, for hosting us here today and for extending such a warm welcome.

I have had a very long personal association with Britain, and have been visiting here for over fifty years. I first came as a university student seeking work during the term holidays. My two sisters emigrated to England at the age of twenty, and worked for British Rail at Central Station and Victoria Station in Manchester. They both married in Manchester, one to a railwayman from a multi-generational railway family from Oldham, where my sister and her family still live. My other sister married an Irishman from Mayo, all of whose family except one, lived in England.

When I came as a post-graduate student to Manchester University in 1968, and initially stayed with my sister in Corby Street near Belle Vue, I regularly moved between the two worlds of an Irish construction worker’s family in Manchester, and the realm of British academia. My field of research was apt – migration.

Over the intervening years I have travelled regularly to Britain – to stay in touch with my siblings and their families; to visit Irish community centres; to maintain fraternal contacts in the labour movement; and, as a parliamentarian, to advance inter-parliamentary links with my colleagues in Westminster. During all this time, including the decades of the 1970s and 1980s when the conflict in Northern Ireland cast a dark shadow over British-Irish relations, I was always impressed by the resilience of the Irish community in Britain.

In the 1960s, in Manchester and across Britain, monuments to the labour of Irish workers could be seen throughout the cities and countryside, most particularly with the construction of the motorways but also on the building sites where Irish tradesmen and labourers were often the backbone of the workforce. The phrase “the men who built Britain” was more than an idle boast. It was a statement of pride in the reputation for industry and capacity for hard work rightly earned by our people.

As historians such as Ultan Cowley have recounted, that tradition of Irish construction work goes back at least as far as the building of the canals and railways, through to the construction, in more recent times of the Channel Tunnel and the skyscrapers of the City.

There are other sectors of the economy, too numerous to list here but including agriculture, teaching and nursing, where routes of labour migration were carved especially deeply. Indeed, it was a great privilege for me, on Wednesday, to witness the continuing contribution of Irish nurses and doctors to British medicine during my visit to University College Hospital in London.

Generations of Irish Travellers have also made their mark in this country, contributing to the fabric of the land as agricultural labourers in the fertile plains of East Anglia, as horse dealers, and in so many other trades. A willingness to accommodate the specific requirements of the travelling life is the measure of any true hospitality, here as in Ireland.

During the 1950s, around half a million Irish men and women made the journey to Britain, my sisters among them. When we think of the circumstances in which these earlier generations of Irish emigrants moved to Britain, it is a joy to note that there is virtually no aspect of British civic or political life that has not been enriched by contributions from the Irish community. That success is due in no small part to the determination and character of those who settled here in more difficult times – some indeed who are in this room today.

Today the Irish community has become one of the most dynamic communities in Britain. This is reflected in the fact that some 50,000 Irish people now sit on the boards of British companies. In my speech at the Guildhall in London earlier this week, I pointed to the contemporary contribution being made, by our many highly skilled graduates, to British industry, to the professions, in commerce and in education. For this generation, migration is often temporary, or may even take the form of commuting, and many of these young people will return to Ireland enriched by the experience and education they gain here.

In marking the successes and achievements of those Irish men and women who have made those journeys and built new lives in Britain, we must also, of course, recognise that for some of our people, migration from Ireland was painful and traumatic. Many left difficult circumstances behind and some found hard lives in their new home. The story of the Irish in Britain has many dimensions, but as President of Ireland I am immensely proud today to bear witness to your contribution to the culture and life of Britain, and your continuing centrality in our national identity.

Of course British people too made the journey in the opposite direction, to Ireland – some for reasons of employment; others for reasons of family or romantic attachment; and others again because they just felt an affinity for the smaller island.

Since the time of Saints Patrick and Colmcille, the journeys in both directions across the Irish Sea have been countless. This afternoon, I would like to recall just two that have direct relevance to Coventry.

In September 1950 a young poet, born and raised in Coventry quite close to here, moved to Belfast to take up a new job as Librarian at Queen’s University. He was a migrant. His name was Philip Larkin, and over the next five years in Belfast he wrote some of the finest poetry of his career. Later, drawing on a migrant’s sensibility, he wrote a description of his emptied family home. It stands today as one of the most apt descriptions of the memory of an emptied home felt by any migrant, and felt by so many Irish homes marked by emigration not only during that decade:

“Home is so sad. It stays as it was left.

Shaped to the comfort of the last to go

As if to win them back.”

So, while we rightly celebrate the legacy of the contribution of Irish emigrants to this country, we should not forget the terrible human cost exacted by this aspect of our history on our own people, the leaving and the left, and the emptied landscape of possibility.

Two years after Philip Larkin returned to this country, another poet left his native Belfast to take up a new job as Director of the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum here in Coventry. John Hewitt would call this city his home for the next fifteen years and would memorably capture Coventry’s great generous spirit as it rebuilt itself after the Blitz, writing of:

“…………..this eager city,

the tolerance that laced its blatant roar,

its famous steeples and its web of girders

as image of the state hope argued for”

Transience is the circumstance at the heart of these great poets’ work, as it is at the heart of the experience of all migrants. When they arrived here, many Irish men and women did indeed find “the state hope argued for” and we will never forget the generosity of those who held out the hand of friendship to them.

Standing here in this ancient Guildhall, in the shadow of your great Cathedral and under the watchful gaze of those two protagonists at the battle of the Boyne, William and James, I am reminded of the words of Nelson Mandela, at whose funeral I was honoured to speak;

“Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace”.

What is true of great people might also be said of great cities. This great city has lived and continues to live by those words.

In 1944, with the Second World War still raging and only a few years after the city had been devastated in the Blitz, and in an act of great empathy on your part, you reached out to another devastated city and twinned with Stalingrad, now Volgograd.

You rebuilt and dedicated your Cathedral to reconciliation and forgiveness – reminding the world, at a dark time, that humanity and compassion had not been extinguished. I was therefore honoured to be welcomed to Coventry Cathedral by Dean Witcombe and to witness a number of its symbolic features associated with peace, reconciliation and ecumenical dialogue. I was particularly pleased to meet representatives of other Christian faiths in the Chapel of Unity.

Coventry is rightly respected for its outstanding work in the art of healing the wounds of past conflicts. Its story provides a powerful inspiration for those in Northern Ireland who are continuing to struggle to deal with the legacy of conflict, and to ensure that the toxins of a divisive past do not poison our hopes for a shared future.

The lesson of Coventry is that peace will only be embedded when we each have the generosity and the empathy to recognise the common humanity of the other, including former enemies, and to accord respect to their differing perspectives and narratives.

This empathy has been sustained in Coventry as you have extended your hand in solidarity to cities all over the world, twinning with, among many others, Warsaw in 1957, Dresden in 1959 and, recognising those strong Irish connections, Cork in 1958.

Cork was, of course, the final stop for Queen Elizabeth during her visit to Ireland three years ago. I am therefore delighted to see representatives from the city of Cork here today reinforcing those important links. Her Majesty’s State Visit to Ireland was a ground-breaking event for Britain and Ireland. Our two nations have come a very long way in recent years in terms of mutual understanding and cooperation. It is a journey not yet complete, but we are both strongly committed to continuing our journey in cooperation, as we face current and future challenges together.

It has been my privilege during this State Visit to continue strengthening the hand of friendship stretching across the Irish Sea.

Sabina and I would like to take this opportunity to thank our hosts, Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh for the warmth of their welcome and their kindness and hospitality over these past few days. Through the Lord Chamberlain, the Earl Peel who is with us today, and the Viscount Hood who graciously accompanied us throughout the visit, I also wish to express our appreciation to the team at the Royal Household for the efficiency and courtesy of all the arrangements made on our behalf.

The programme of events during the visit has demonstrated the depth, authenticity and warmth of the relationship between our two countries. It has illustrated that, in virtually every area of life, the people of the United Kingdom and Ireland are cooperating with each other, are learning from each other, and are supporting each other practically and on a daily basis.

I cannot think of a better place to bring this State Visit to a close than among the Irish community: with the Irish in Britain, active for 40 years; with the St. Patrick’s Club in Leamington Spa which has just celebrated its 50th year; with the Coventry Irish Society; the Coventry Cork Poets Group; and the Coventry County Associations. You, and all Irish organisations, play a vital role by providing a “home from home” for our community. I thank you for your fidelity to your homeland of origin; for your solidarity to each other; and for the contribution you have made to the warm friendship that now exists between Ireland and the United Kingdom.

This State Visit has had its essential share of ceremonial formality, but at its heart it has been about the warmest of relations between close neighbours.

If I may be allowed a note of regret from this visit, it is that the late Seamus Heaney was not with us to witness it. Seamus and Marie rightly shared the table of honour at the State Dinner in Dublin Castle during Her Majesty’s visit in May 2011. It was an honour not just merited by Seamus’ poetic genius, but also by his humanitarian and reconciling influence within the Republic of Letters and the Republic of Conscience, and above all by his enthralling companionability.

In reflecting on what Seamus might have made of this State visit to the United Kingdom, I thought of his following lines:

“Our pioneers keep striking

Inwards and downwards,

Every layer they strip

Seems camped on before.”

The historical terrain shared by our two peoples has been the site of many and different camps over the years. We, in this generation, are now the pioneers who are stripping away the old layers of the troubled past and creating a new path of hope and opportunity. As I conclude this first State Visit by an Irish President to the United Kingdom, my earnest hope is that our two countries will continue to tread the path of neighbourly friendship together.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh agus rath Dé oraibh go léir.

President of Ireland at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon

Speech by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland

Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon

Friday, 11th April, 2014

It was Václav Havel who said:

“Words are a mysterious, ambiguous, ambivalent, and perfidious phenomenon. They are capable of being rays of light in a realm of darkness… They are equally capable of being lethal arrows. Worst of all, at times they can be the one and the other. And even both at once!”

The words exchanged between Ireland and England have often been part of a long and sometimes tortured exchange. We cannot pretend that it was always a happy and friendly affair, to do so would be a disservice to truth and history. Here in this place, sacred to the English language and its many glories, it would be inauthentic and foolish to gloss over truth, since at the heart of language there is and there must be a passion for truth.

Today I want to acknowledge a great truth: the English language that we share, if it was once the enforced language of conquest, it is today the very language in which we have now come to delight in one another, to share our different and complementary understandings of what it means to be human together in this world, transacting in the currency of words.

To share a language is to privilege the existence of the other, to accept the joy and the responsibility of hospitality. To search for the expression of hope, grief, and justice in a common language is a deepening and widening of understanding. It is to expand the horizons of solidarity, and solidarity is the search always and everywhere for a future in a world not yet fashioned or even born, where our children and their children can share in compassionate mutual understanding.

A valued friend said to me, when I told him I was coming here –“remind them that Shakespeare was christened in Latin and buried in English.” It could equally be said of his contemporary, Cervantes, that he was christened in Latin and buried in Castellano. It is, in other words, a longstanding feature of the European mind that at any given time it has a lingua franca as well as, in any given place, a local language in which to express itself, its mentalité, its sense of being in the world.

That English, to whose Anglo Saxon foundations he added so much, was the site of Shakespeare’s expression of his genius. A language open and inclusive, today it has become the lingua franca of much of our contemporary world. We Irish, never mind the complex ways in which it happened, were early adapters. Indeed, outside of the island of Britain, and long before the Americans, we were the first outsiders to enter into dialogue with the English language, inside the frame of that language itself and its origins.

That word ‘dialogue’ is so important since from the very earliest times the English language as used in Ireland, as used by Irish men and women, has pursued its own path, animated and shaped by not just a difference in how we and you experience the world but by a crucial, structural distinction.

Shakespeare’s English was a construct that had by his time melded into itself Anglo Saxon, Old High German, Norse, Italian, Norman, French, Latin and Greek. By the Elizabethan age, that language had arrived, more or less, at its full powers of expression.

To be sure, the vagaries of fashion and an expanding vocabulary have ensured that English as spoken and written in Britain has continued to evolve, but structurally and syntactically it has changed only imperceptibly from the days of Shakespeare.

In Ireland, by contrast, the English language underwent a different evolution, and this is because the manner in which we deploy the language is shadowed and deeply inflected by the enduring Irish language.

This is not just a question of vocabulary, still less is it a reflection of an imperfect grasp of the language – it could not be seriously argued that Shaw and Wilde, Sheridan, Oliver Goldsmith or Brian Friel had an imperfect grasp of English. No, what I am pointing to here is the way in which the fluidity, the conceptual grace and above all the relationship with time and tense that is characteristic of the Irish language has inflected and shaped the English we write and speak.

English English, if I might permit myself the term, has a positive love of all that is definite, short and exact. It possesses, for instance, the shortest, most explosive and emphatic of negatives in the word ‘no’. There is no single word in Irish for ‘no’. To convey a negative in Irish it is necessary to go a little further. If I frame the question, in English, ‘was the audience composed of intelligent, good-looking people’, the answer in English might be ‘no’ – not, of course, in this present instance. If I were to ask in Irish, ‘an raibh an lucht éisteachta ciallmhar dathúil?’ the curmudgeonly answer might well be ‘ní raibh siad’, which you might translate as ‘they were not’ or ‘they were neither’ perhaps with an implied ‘alas’.

Again, I hope you will not think I am referring to present company, since it is evident that you are all intelligent and, if you will permit me, also good-looking. I offer this minor example of difference in order to point to something that should excite us to celebrate difference.

It may well be that Latin, as a lingua franca, was superseded by English, between his christening and his funeral in the life of Shakespeare, precisely because English was not, once we Irish began to adventure in the language, ever in danger of becoming a dead language.

I might even argue, tentatively of course, that English would never have become a world language, as it is today in new circumstances of a technological revolution sourced in telegraphy, were it not for first the Irish, then the Americans, anglophone Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, Indians, South Africans and certain peoples of the Caribbean.

The magnificent poetry of Derek Walcott has made a dynamic English of his negotiation between the patois of St. Lucia and the sonnets of Shakespeare. The advent of the American demotic into poetry and prose has irradiated and profoundly enlivened English, from Mistress Bradstreet to Adrienne Rich, from Hawthorne to Don de Lillo. And what is gained from the magnificent Australian sprawl of Les Murray’s poetry, or the novels of Doris Lessing, born in what was once Rhodesia, and the Canadian Margaret Attwood? What gifts have we been given, through the English language, in the novels of Nadine Gordimer or J.M. Coetzee?

George Bernard Shaw once observed that the English and the Americans are two people separated by a common language. It was a witty remark and, in terms of psycho-linguistics, an astute observation. More to our point here, his perception can be very usefully reframed to cast light on the present happy phase of relations between our two peoples, as we pass slowly but surely into a new kind of relationship between Ireland and Britain. If I invoke here the spirits of Joyce and Beckett, Wilde, Shaw, Yeats and Seamus Heaney, it is to point towards the amplified sense of our common humanity these great writers have won through to, exercising their imaginations in our doubled English.

And the evidence is there in the work we have seen and heard from the Bard himself.

In Henry IV, Act i., Scene 4, Pistol responds to a greeting in French with what to the groundlings, and no doubt their betters, would have sounded like gibberish. He employs the phrase

‘Caleno o custure me’.

This apparent nonsense phrase is a phonetic rendition of the Irish

‘Cailín ó cois Siúire mé’, ‘I am a girl from the banks of the Suir.’

The tune to this Irish folksong appears in the The Virginal of Queen Elizabeth the First, most likely conveyed to her by Edmund Spenser. Alfred Perceval Graves, son of the Bishop of Limerick, wrote new words for the tune, and may I conclude with a brief poem by Alfred’s son, Robert Graves, author of inter alia “The White Goddess” with its beautiful tribute to Amhergin whom we share.

Robert, evoking Ezekiel, reminds us that the dictionary is a valley of dry bones. If a dictionary was a tool of empire in the 16th century, in the 21st an approach to the language of the other can be a tool of discovery of the means of ethical cooperation in facing common challenges.

DANCE OF WORDS by Robert Graves

“To make them move, you should start from lightning
And not forecast the rhythm: rely on chance,
Or so-called chance for its bright emergence
Once lightning interpenetrates the dance.

Grant them their own traditional steps and postures
But see they dance it out again and again
Until only lightning is left to puzzle over —
The choreography plain, and the theme plain.”

It is the business of living souls to breathe life into words, and I have no doubt but that our long conversation in a shared language will continue into the far future to breathe new life, and the lightning of our different imaginations, into a common human purpose.

Thank you, go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.

Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland at the Royal Albert Hall, London

Remarks by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland

Royal Albert Hall, London

Thursday, 10th April 2014

Your Royal Highnesses, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent:

A Thaoisigh, A Thánaiste:

A Chairde go léir:

Nach bhfuil sé cóir go dtréaslímid leis na gceoltóirí is leis na hamhránaithe den scoth atá ag glacadh páirt san ócáid cheiliúrtha seo.

Taoiseach, Tánaiste:


Isn’t it right and proper that we congratulate the first-rate musicians and singers who are taking part in this celebratory occasion.

In this magnificent venue and on this wonderful and historic occasion, I wish to extend my thanks to a number of people who have made this evening’s celebration, and indeed the past few days, so positive and uplifting.

First of all, Sabina and I wish to express our deep appreciation to our hosts – Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth and His Royal Highness, the Duke of

Edinburgh, for the gracious welcome and warm hospitality they have extended to us and to our delegation.

The evident grace and warmth with which they have prepared for, and arranged, my State Visit is reflective of the true and deep friendship that now exists between Ireland and the United Kingdom.

I am delighted that their Royal Highnesses, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent have been able to join us this evening, and we all hope that they will have been sufficiently entertained to transmit a positive review to the Queen.

This evening’s celebration demonstrates once again the importance of culture in general and, in particular, the depth and richness of our Irish cultural tradition.

What we have seen and heard also shows how deeply interwoven are the wider cultures of these islands, and how they have influenced and enriched each other.

So may I thank all of our artists for the authenticity, generosity and excellence of their performances.

I also wish to acknowledge, with deep gratitude, the work of Culture Ireland, the production team and all the people here in the Royal Albert Hall whose fruitful collaboration has made this wonderful night possible.

This celebration, above all, is for the thousands of Irish people in this Hall who have made Britain their home or whose parents or grandparents did,as well as the friends, neighbours, relatives and in-laws, they have brought along.

I thank you most sincerely for the fidelity you have shown to Ireland over many years; for the contribution you have made to the development of Britain; and for your part in the consolidation of an enduring friendship between our two countries.

You remain a cherished member of the Irish family. I thank all of you who have travelled to be here, be your journeys long or short.

On a night like this, it is great to be Irish. And it is even better to share it in the company of our friends in Britain. Ar aghaidh leis an gceol.

Beannachtaí oraibh go léir.

Michael D Higgins Flys Home After Successful UK State Visit

President Higgins returns after UK State visit

Source: RTE News 11/4/2014 Online

President Michael D Higgins has arrived back in Ireland following his State visit to the UK.

Other RTE News Articles About The Irish State Visit:

President Higgins hails ‘memorable’ State visit

President thanks Britain for support during crisis

Irish and British becoming ‘even better friends’

Marking a Milestone: Reporting on the State visit

State Visit to the UK – Day 2

NPR Bestsellers 3rd April 2014

NPR Coverage exists denotes NPR coverage
Hardback Fiction

1 The Goldfinch Donna Tartt
2 The Invention of Wings Sue Monk Kidd
3 Missing You Harlan Coben
4 Bark Lorrie Moore
5 Still Life With Bread Crumbs Anna Quindlen
6 The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry Gabrielle Zevin
7 One More Thing B. J. Novak
8 The Martian Andy Weir
9 Shotgun Lovesongs Nickolas Butler
10 Raising Steam Terry Pratchett
11 Redeployment Phil Klay
12 The Museum of Extraordinary Things Alice Hoffman
13 The Husband’s Secret Liane Moriarty
14 Gone Girl Gillian Flynn
15 Black-Eyed Blonde Benjamin Black

Hardback Non Fiction
1 Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book Diane Muldrow
2 Thrive Arianna Huffington
3 A Call to Action Jimmy Carter
4 The Sixth Extinction Elizabeth Kolbert
5 The Boys In The Boat Daniel James Brown
6 Uganda Be Kidding Me Chelsea Handler
7 Grain Brain David Perlmutter, M.D. and Kristin Loberg
8 David and Goliath Malcolm Gladwell
9 William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back Ian Doescher
10 10% Happier Dan Harris
11 The Future of the Mind Michio Kaku
12 How About Never – Is Never Good for You? Bob Mankoff
13 Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand
14 The Story of the Jews Simon Schama
15 Lean In Sheryl Sandberg

Paperback Fiction
1 Americanah Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
2 The Interestings Meg Wolitzer
3 Orphan Train Christina Baker Kline
4 Where’d You Go, Bernadette Maria Semple
5 A Tale for the Time Being Ruth Ozeki
6 Life After Life Kate Atkinson
7 Beautiful Ruins Jess Walter
8 Dear Life Alice Munro
9 Me Before You Jojo Moyes
10 Cockroaches Jo Nesbo
11 Tenth of December George Saunders
12 The Flamethrowers Rachel Kushner
13 A Constellation Of Vital Phenomena Anthony Marra
14 Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore Robin Sloan
15 Shadow Spell Nora Roberts

Paperback Non Fiction
1 Wild Cheryl Strayed
2 The Monuments Men Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter
3 Orange Is the New Black Piper Kerman
4 Hyperbole And A Half Allie Brosh
5 Show Your Work! Austin Kleon
6 The Girls Of Atomic City Denise Kiernan
7 Quiet Susan Cain
8 Proof Of Heaven Eben Alexander, M.D.
9 Twelve Years a Slave Solomon Northup, Ira Berlin, Henry Louis Gates and Steve McQueen
10 My Beloved World Sonia Sotomayor
11 The Unwinding George Packer
12 The Power of Habit Charles Duhigg
13 The Plantagenets Dan Jones
14 Wreck This Journal Keri Smith
15 The Gifts of Imperfection Brene Brown

NYT Bestsellers 10/4/2014

Bestsellers List:

1.SHADOW SPELL, by Nora Roberts
2.NYPD RED 2, by James Patterson and Marshall Karp
3.MISSING YOU, by Harlan Coben
4.THE FIXED TRILOGY, by Laurelin Paige
5.BLOSSOM STREET BRIDES, by Debbie Macomber
Complete List »
1.THRIVE, by Arianna Huffington
2.HEAVEN IS FOR REAL, by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent
3.TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE, by Solomon Northup
4.CALL TO ACTION, by Jimmy Carter
Complete List »

1.NYPD RED 2, by James Patterson and Marshall Karp
2.MISSING YOU, by Harlan Coben
3.THE GOLDFINCH, by Donna Tartt
4.BLOSSOM STREET BRIDES, by Debbie Macomber
Complete List »

1.THRIVE, by Arianna Huffington
2.CALL TO ACTION, by Jimmy Carter
3.UGANDA BE KIDDING ME, by Chelsea Handler
4.10% HAPPIER, by Dan Harris
5.NOT COOL, by Greg Gutfeld
Complete List »

1.SHADOW SPELL, by Nora Roberts
2.VERONICA MARS: THE THOUSAND-DOLLAR TAN LINE, by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
3.ORPHAN TRAIN, by Christina Baker Kline
4.KING AND MAXWELL, by David Baldacci
5.FOUR FRIENDS, by Robyn Carr
Complete List »

Paperback Mass-Market Fiction
1.DADDY’S GONE A HUNTING, by Mary Higgins Clark
2.UNDER THE DOME, PART 2, by Stephen King
3.ALEX CROSS, RUN, by James Patterson
4.THE HIT, by David Baldacci
5.DASH OF PERIL, by Lori Foster
Complete List »

Paperback Nonfiction
1.HEAVEN IS FOR REAL, by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent
2.LONE SURVIVOR, by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson
3.MONUMENTS MEN, by Robert M. Edsel with Bret Witter
4.PROOF OF HEAVEN, by Eben Alexander
5.POWER OF HABIT, by Charles Duhigg
Complete List »

E-Book Fiction
1.SHADOW SPELL, by Nora Roberts
2.NYPD RED 2, by James Patterson and Marshall Karp
3.THE FIXED TRILOGY, by Laurelin Paige
4.MISSING YOU, by Harlan Coben
5.LITTLE GIRL LOST, by Brian McGilloway
Complete List »

E-Book Nonfiction
1.TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE, by Solomon Northup
3.HEAVEN IS FOR REAL, by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent
4.THRIVE, by Arianna Huffington
5.UNBROKEN, by Laura Hillenbrand
Complete List »

Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous
1.THE HUNGRY GIRL DIET, by Lisa Lillien
2.THE END OF DIETING, by Joel Fuhrman
3.THE BODY BOOK, by Cameron Diaz with Sandra Bark
4.GRAIN BRAIN, by David Perlmutter with Kristin Loberg
Complete List »

Children’s Picture Books
1.THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT, by Drew Daywalt. Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
2.LOCOMOTIVE, by Brian Floca
3.GOODNIGHT, GOODNIGHT, CONSTRUCTION SITE, by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld
4.JOURNEY, by Aaron Becker
5.WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY?, by Ylvis. Illustrated by Svein Nyhus
Complete List »

Children’s Middle Grade
1.FROZEN, by RH Disney
3.WONDER, by R. J. Palacio
4.LEGO, THE LEGO MOVIE, by Kate Howard
Complete List »

Young Adult
2.THE BOOK THIEF, by Markus Zusak
4.PAPER TOWNS, by John Green
Complete List »

Children’s Series
1.DIVERGENT, by Veronica Roth
2.THE MAZE RUNNER, by James Dashner
3.THE HUNGER GAMES, by Suzanne Collins
4.THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS, by Cassandra Clare
5.DIARY OF A WIMPY KID, written and illustrated by Jeff Kinney
Complete List »

Hardcover Graphic Books
1.FEAR AGENT: LIBRARY EDITION, VOL. 2, by Rick Remender, Tony Moore and others
2.UNCANNY X-FORCE BY RICK REMENDER OMNIBUS, by Rick Remender, Jerome Opeña and others
3.JUSTICE LEAGUE: TRINITY WAR, by Geoff Johns and others
4.HELLBOY: THE FIRST 20 YEARS, by Mike Mignola
5.A GAME OF THRONES, VOL. 3, by Daniel Abraham and Tommy Patterson
Complete List »

Paperback Graphic Books
1.SAGA, VOL. 3, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
2.THE WALKING DEAD, VOL. 20, by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
3.THE WALKING DEAD COMPENDIUM, VOL. 1, by Robert Kirkman and others
4.THE WALKING DEAD COMPENDIUM, VOL. 2, by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
5.THE WALKING DEAD, VOL. 19, by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
Complete List »

1.MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM: THE ORIGIN, VOL. 5, by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko
2.SOUL EATER, VOL. 19, by Atsushi Ohkubo
3.ATTACK ON TITAN, VOL. 1, by Hajime Isayama
4.ATTACK ON TITAN: BEFORE THE FALL, VOL. 1, by Hajime Isayama, Ryo Suzukaze and Satoshi Shiki
5.ATTACK ON TITAN: JUNIOR HIGH, VOL. 1, by Hajime Isayama and Saki Nakagawa
Complete List »

Business Books
1.LEAN IN, by Sheryl Sandberg with Nell Scovell
2.THRIVE, by Arianna Huffington
3.THINKING, FAST AND SLOW, by Daniel Kahneman
4.SUCCESS THROUGH STILLNESS, by Russell Simmons with Chris Morrow
5.WOLF OF WALL STREET, by Jordan Belfort
Complete List »

Political Books
1.TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE, by Solomon Northup
2.MONUMENTS MEN, by Robert M. Edsel with Bret Witter
3.LONE SURVIVOR, by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson
4.UNBROKEN, by Laura Hillenbrand
5.DUTY, by Robert M. Gates
Complete List »

2.GRAIN BRAIN, by David Perlmutter with Kristin Loberg
3.THE HUNGRY GIRL DIET, by Lisa Lillien
4.THE DANIEL PLAN, by Rick Warren, Daniel Amen, Mark Hyman and others
5.WHEAT BELLY, by William Davis
Complete List »

2.SHOWTIME, by Jeff Pearlman
3.CYCLE OF LIES, by Juliet Macur
4.THE RISE OF SUPERMAN, by Steven Kotler
Complete List »

Speech by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland at The Royal Society, London

Speech by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland

Royal Society, London

Wednesday, 9th April 2014 Speech by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland at The Royal Society, London
Vice-President Pethica:

Distinguished Fellows of the Royal Society:

Ladies and Gentlemen:

May I thank Professor Pethica for his kind words of introduction, and all of you for your generous welcome.

Mar Uachtarán na hÉireann, is mór an onóir agus an pléisiúir dom é cuairt a thabhairt ar an gCumann Ríoga, institiúid a bhfuil tar éis forbairtí gaoiseacha a dhéanamh ar eolaíocht an Iarthair agus ar ár dtuiscint ar an saol mór.

[As President of Ireland, I am both honoured and greatly pleased to visit the Royal Society, an institution which has made such a profound contribution to the development of Western science and our understanding of the world.]

This first State Visit by a President of Ireland to the United Kingdom is a celebration of the relationship between our two countries, in all of its rich dimensions. The vibrancy of this relationship irrigates the circulation of knowledge, the debates of ideas, and the many productive collaborations that bring together British and Irish scientists.

Though sometimes not fully appreciated, the human and intellectual ties between our two countries carry great significance and historical depth. In 1968, my distinguished predecessor, Éamon de Valera, who had a keen, life-long interest in mathematics, was elected a Fellow of this Society.

In the 1940s, de Valera had presided over the foundation of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, in consultation with two of his old professors, Arthur Conway and Sir Edmund Taylor Whittaker. Professor Whittaker had, as Royal Astronomer of Ireland, taught mathematical physics at Trinity College Dublin before taking on a position at the University of Edinburgh. Arthur Conway had introduced de Valera to quaternions – a number system which itself originated in Ireland, in the work of William Rowan Hamilton, whose achievements are still celebrated each year in his native Dublin.

In fact, the Royal Society’s Irish connections go back much further, to the Society’s very first meetings in the mid-1640s. Among the founding figures, that group of “natural philosophers” who put forward the virtues of observation and experimentation as a means to apprehend the natural world, we find Robert Boyle, the son of the Earl of Cork and one of the most prominent Irishmen to have made science his vocation.

The experimental investigations, the spirit of discovery and questioning which made Boyle one of the central figures in the scientific revolution of the 17th century, aptly reflect the particular nature of the Irish genius. Indeed the most significant products of Irish culture have had as their defining characteristic a tendency to look at the world in novel and unconventional ways and to question prevailing orthodoxies.

Because the power of imagination has, in Ireland, found such remarkable incarnations in the realm of words – in the spheres of arts and literature – its contribution to our understanding of the natural world has, perhaps, been overshadowed. Even among the Irish, the names of Swift, Wilde, Yeats, Joyce, Shaw, Beckett or Heaney are of far more renown than that of Ernest Walton who, in 1951, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his pioneering work on the artificial splitting of the nucleus of the atom.

That is not as it should be: we need to better understand the role of scientific knowledge in shaping our relationship to the world. Irish scientific achievements represent many milestones in the journey of modern Western rationality. We can think of Robert Boyle and William Hamilton, but also of John Tyndall, who explained why the sky is blue; Nicholas Callan, who invented the induction coil; William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse, who built the world’s largest telescope and used it to locate new structures in the heavens; George Gabriel Stokes, who investigated the phenomenon of fluorescence and advanced the wave theory of light; William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, who contributed so much to the transatlantic telegraph project; John Lighton Synge, who pioneered the study of black holes; or George Francis Fitzgerald, whose understanding of the laws of motion provided an essential building block for the Special Theory of Relativity.

Let us not forget either the famous 1939 essay of John Desmond Bernal on The Social Function of Science.

Finally, I am delighted to note that the first woman to be elected Fellow of the Royal Society, in 1945, was X-ray crystallographer Kathleen Lonsdale, from Newbridge, County Kildare.

It would be a mistake to view Irish science as somehow separate from our culture, as alien to the boundless imagination which drove our great writers. It was an Irish scientist – George Johnstone Stoney, Professor of Natural Philosophy at Queen’s College Galway and later a Vice-President of this Royal Society – who coined the term ‘electron’. But it was an Irish writer, James Joyce, who gave the word ‘quark’ its spelling, in a line of Finnegans Wake – “Three quarks for Muster Mark!”. This may have been an unintentional contribution to the development of particle physics, but it illustrates well the wealth of sources which shape the way we see, understand and talk about science.

It is often said that ours will be the century of neuroscience, and advances in this area certainly give cause for optimism and excitement. But the humanities also have something essential to contribute to our comprehension of the nature of human consciousness or what it means to be human. The universe cannot be understood through its physical properties alone.

I am convinced that it is through leaping the boundaries that divide discipline from discipline, science from the arts and humanities, and by marshalling the diverse influences from our intellectual heritage that we can best meet the complex challenges of the future.

One great challenge lies in the rapid pace of scientific and technological development, its diffusion on a global scale, which has yet to be matched by the cultivation of critical and informed dialogues within the wider society on the impact of such developments. This, I believe, calls for some level of reintegration between science and philosophy; it requires the crafting of a wide-ranging ethical discourse in which all citizens – not just the most expert, or scientifically literate among them – are invited to take part.

This challenge is all the more pressing as the ethical issues arising from contemporary scientific and technological applications have reached unprecedented levels of acuteness. Recent developments in the life sciences, for example, give new salience to the opportunities and perils encapsulated in the old Promethean myth. The damages inflicted to our planet by climate change also raise novel ethical questions: indeed, the possibility of the total destruction of our world was not a concern of Enlightenment philosophers.

On all these questions, it is essential that we instigate far-reaching dialogues, not only between the disciplines but also, I would suggest, between Ireland and Britain. It would be so valuable to see these national dialogues expand and mature alongside the strengthening of scientific cooperation between our two countries.

In Ireland we have, in recent decades, made great strides in developing the scientific resources that will help us meet the challenges of the future and consolidate our international reputation for research excellence.

The results achieved to date have been extremely encouraging. Ireland has emerged as a leading country globally for the quality of its scientific research, notably in fields such as immunology and probiotics, nanoscience, and materials science. Our country also ranks third in the European Union for innovation output.

For a country the size of Ireland, these are no mean accomplishments.

But we have not achieved these feats on our own. To advance, science requires broad horizons, a willingness to seek out new ideas and perspectives from other disciplines and different cultures. I am glad to say that this type of cross-fertilisation is very much part of the current research ecosystem in Ireland.

Today is therefore a fitting occasion to draw attention to the scientific collaborations that currently play such a beneficial role in expanding our two countries’ shared horizon of possibilities.

I know that Science Foundation Ireland and the Royal Society are discussing the establishment of a joint programme aimed at supporting Irish scientists of outstanding potential, and I wish them well in this final phase of their discussions.

May I also commend the International Exchange Cost Share Programme, run jointly by the Royal Society and the Royal Irish Academy, which supports new collaborations between British and Irish Scientists.

Science Gallery is another example of a vibrant partnership between Ireland and the UK. First established at Trinity College Dublin, Science Gallery will, in 2016, expand its programme of creative collisions between scientists, artists, designers and engineers, to a new gallery established on the Guy’s Campus of King’s College London.

The community of scientists on our two islands has led the world in so many fields, and left such a valuable legacy for humanity. The various initiatives I just mentioned do, I hope, plant the seeds for the breaking of new grounds through renewed cooperation between Irish and British scientists in the years to come.

Today the UK and Ireland share a scientific culture and a commitment to scientific endeavour which, if framed by an appropriate ethical discourse, offers the promise of new advances and a more conscious relationship to the world we inhabit.

I am therefore delighted to have had this opportunity to visit the Royal Society to celebrate the centuries-old scientific links between our countries; to affirm and support the present nexus of British-Irish collaboration in science and research; and, in facing up to the challenges of the future, to encourage a discourse that is holistic, multidisciplinary and ethically robust.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh.

Thank you for your attention.