2018 St. Patrick’s Day Message from President Michael D. Higgins
May I send my best wishes for St. Patrick’s Day to the people of Ireland, and to all those who join us around the world in celebrating the feast day of our patron saint, to those who have supported Irish people, Irish traditions and to those who come to visit us.
St. Patrick’s Day is a time when we come together to celebrate not only our rich Irish heritage but also the expression of our contemporary and diverse culture as it is expressed in all its different ways.
Our heritage and culture connect us to our wider global family, reminding us of the common history and identity we share despite the borders, oceans and miles that may separate us.
St. Patrick, we must never forget, was a man whose life embodied the values of solidarity, friendship and concern for his fellow citizen. His own story of migration reflects a theme that remains an important part of our national experience.
Across the generations there have been many forms of Irish migration, involuntary and voluntary, some impelled by desperation, some by hope for a better future, and some by a curiosity and a desire to explore new horizons.
These experiences have gifted us with a large diaspora, one that enables us to have an enduring connection with our contemporary Irish family abroad, and with those of Irish heritage throughout the world.
Our Irish abroad have accomplished so much in so many diverse fields of endeavour in their countries of adoption while remaining proud of their Irish heritage, and we are particularly proud of all those engaged in humanitarian and peace-building tasks. For many, this bond with the land of their birth, or that of their forebears, remains one characterised by both its strength and intensity.
We are greatly conscious, however, that life for many of our migrants in famine and post-famine times was not easy. Letters were expensive to post and travelled slowly across the many miles that separated family members.
Those at home were, at times, reluctant to communicate the bad news of deaths and illness, while those who had left desired to shield families from the loneliness and despair that often defined their emigration experience.
We must now forge new links with their descendants. We must ensure too that we fortify and strengthen the bonds with our contemporary migrants.
On this St. Patrick’s Day, as we reach out to our Irish family across the globe, let us look back across the years and remember the many letters that were never written, or never sent, the many vital connections broken and never repaired, the severing of family ties that may still echo down the generations.
As we do so, let us honour the memory of those long-lost members of our global family by resolving to ensure that today our relationship with all the strands of our Diaspora will be a deep and profound one.
Yes, we are fortunate to live in a world where modern technology has greatly bridged geographical distance, allowing a sense of inclusivity and the coming together of Irish people wherever they may be in the world in a spirit of support and solidarity. Let us use it, but let us not forget the value of the letter or the visit.
On behalf of the people of Ireland, I extend a hand of friendship across the globe to all those who are Irish by birth, descent or association. Those who have welcomed and assisted the Irish, those interested in matters Irish.
I know that, together, we can build on the best of Irishness, to create a better future for ourselves, our children and all those who live on our beautiful shared, vulnerable, planet.
I wish you, and all those who form part of the Irish family, a happy and peaceful St. Patrick’s Day.