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St. Patrick’s Day Message from President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins

Saint Patrick’s Day Message

President Michael D. Higgins

March 2021

As our people envisage their emergence from the destructive and debilitating, all-enveloping fog that is the pandemic of COVID-19, as our planet wounded, and in peril from what was a discarded respect for balance, between what might be consumed for the necessities of life and the very capacity of the planet to renew itself, even survive, what then might be an appropriate message from Ireland on the Feast Day of the Patron, Patrick, all of us on the island of Ireland, and Irish people everywhere and those who came to be in the country, might share?

Perhaps, in the special circumstances of this year, we should give the day back to the story of Saint Patrick, that powerful mythic source upon which our National Day, which we offer to the world every year on the 17th of March, is based.

Patrick arrived in Ireland as a slave, escaped and returned.  He is of the stock of our early foundational Irish migrants, which anticipates our monastic messengers, our nineteenth-century emigration prior to the Great Famine, and the haemorrhage of our people who managed to flee for survival in post-Famine times.

In 1901, of all the Irish born on the island of Ireland, a majority lived outside of the island of Ireland. Saint Patrick’s Day, then, must always be a special day for recalling our migrant history and learning from it, be a source of our ethics and of our policy at home and abroad.

When in so many places, in so many different circumstances, voices of invocation by Irish people sing out on Saint Patrick’s Day, they are placing their invocation alongside the invocations and prayers of migrant communities everywhere who have, over generations, sought to collectively transcend present circumstances. 

The messenger, of that invocation to a power beyond the self, to a spirit that informed nature, was, for us Irish, Saint Patrick, a migrant carrying to us the message of another compassionate migrant which could be placed, with respect, alongside other sources of the spirit.

All sources of transcendence and the spirit beyond the misery of the self are important. Our Patron Patrick saw the necessity of placing his message alongside respect for nature, with its right and promise of renewal that was there in indigenous forms of spirituality.

On Saint Patrick’s Day 2021, we have been reminded of our shared vulnerability, our interdependence, the need for an understanding that can fly past borders. In the message we have received from COVID, surely there is the undeniable insight that we must all, and together, exit the fog of not only the pandemic but all of the hubris, the arrogance, the vanities of assuming the right to dominate, to impose, to exclude; strategies of life which have left us such a legacy of lost communality and a planet in danger.

We have had the opportunity, since last year in particular, then, to examine the assumptions that have brought upon us less than the best of ourselves.  There is much to be discarded, and we should do so without unnecessary recrimination. Surely we do not need to make war to find peace; and then when we discover a remedy, an insight of science for the avoidance or cure of disease, it must be for the sharing, rather than the hoarding as a commodity for use in aggressive trade competition.

There will be a capacity for joy in our exit from COVID-19, but that joy should be informed by our reflection on the new values we will invoke and practice as we set out on the new journey we undertake together.

Out of COVID we must globally share that which we need for a shared journey. Trust in words is fading. That trust must be restored.

In this year, no doubt, there will be pain. While there will be a recall of journeys remembered, there will be the disappointment of journeys anticipated but now, necessarily, postponed.  Our hearts must be with those many for whom a technological alternative is an insufficient substitute for touch or intimacy.

Invocation to our Patron, our transcendent rivulet of hope, will be empowered in a different way this year. We can learn from it all as we always do, and when in years to come we parade again and gather in celebration, make a new invocation, no longer needing to be consumed in our consumption, we will recall how we made Saint Patrick’s Day 2021 the beginning of a new journey, one we are happy to share with the whole world and all of its people, and one that helped renew a respect for Mother Earth to which we all belong, and of which our Saints Patrick and Brigid left us such insights and enduring wisdom.

When in the future we recall Saint Patrick’s Day 2021, let us have returned with even more energy to music as we lift the glass slowly, and replenish it even slower.  Music and creativity were our resource in the pandemic, and in the music of the heart is rehearsed that for which words are insufficient, feídearachtaí ag heitheamh dúinn – forms of renewal, possibilities rehearsed, journeys to wonder and new places.

 

“We make an affirmation.

The stuff of hope beckons.

Out of the darkness we step,

And blink into the new light.”[1]

 

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, and to all those who have assisted our Irish people, especially over the past year.

I wish you, and all those who form part of the Irish family, and its friends in the families of the world, a happy and peaceful Saint Patrick’s Day.

 

Beir beannacht.

 

Teachtaireacht ón Uachtarán

Micheál D. Ó hUigínn

 Lá le Pádraig 2021

  

Lenár ndaoine ag samhlú aiséirí na hÉireann ó scáth dochrach phaindéim Covid-19, agus ár ndomhan mar atá sé, ag folaingt, i gcruachás de bharr easpa measa ar an gcothromaíocht idir riachtanais an tsaoil agus cumas athbheochana an phláinéid, cén teachtaireacht is chuí a sheoladh an bliain seo, ar Lá le Pádraig 2021?

Cén teachtaireacht is cuí le hÉireannaigh an oileáin, agus muintir na tíre fud fad na cruinne, iad go léir san áireamh, Éireannaigh ó dhúchais agus iad siúd atá díreach tagtha chun na tíre, a roinnt le chéile ar Lá Fhéile ár Naomhphátrúin?

B’fhéidir, agus cúinsí éagsúla ann i mbliana, gurbh fhearr dúinn an lá a bhunú arís ar scéal Naomh Pádraig. Scéal cumhachtach, miotasach as a dtagann ár Lá Náisiúnta, a chuireann muid os comhair an domhain ar fad ar an seachtú lá déag Márta gach bliain.

Is mar sclábhaí a tháinig Pádraig go hÉirinn, d’éalaigh sé agus d’fhill sé arís. Imirceach ab ea é. Tá sé lonnaithe i mbunchloch ár n-imircigh Éireannacha, ár dteachtairí manachúla, i measc eisimirce an naoú haoise déag roimh an nGorta Mór agus caillteanas ár ndaoine a d’éalaigh ar mhaithe lena slánú i ndiaidh an Ghorta.

Is fiú dúinn a choimead a gcuimhne i gcónaí gurb’ í ár scéal ná sa bhliain 1901 bhí formhór na nÉireannach a rugadh ar oileán na hÉireann ina gcónaí thar lear.

Lá speisialta is ea Lá Fhéile Pádraig, mar sin, le cuimhneachán a dhéanamh ar stair ár n-imirceach. Is deis foghlama í freisin, mar aon le foinse ár mianta agus polasaithe sa bhaile agus i gcéin.

Sna h-áiteanna éagsúla a mbíodh Éireannaigh ag canadh in ard a ngutha ar Lá Fhéile Pádraig tráth, táthar ag glacadh páirt ina nguthanna le pobail imirceach ar fud an domhain. Pobail is ea iad seo a bhfuil na cianta caite acu ag sárú cúinsí reatha.

Dúinne mar Éireannaigh, ba é Naomh Pádraig an teachtaire a thánaig chugainn, a thug leis tiomna faoin gcumhacht taobh amuigh den duine féin, spiorad a mhúnlaigh croí na daonnachta.

Imirceach ab ea é, a d’iompair leis teachtaireacht an imircigh bháúil agus a chruthaigh gurbh fhéidir í a nascadh le foinsí eile an spioraid. Tá gach cineál éabhlóide agus spioraid taobh amuigh d’anró an duine tábhachtach.

D’aithin ár bPátrún Pádraig an gá speisíalta a bhain lena theachtaireacht a fhí isteach sa mheas don nádúr, dá chumas agus gealltanas athbheochana, tréith chomónta í seo sa spioradáltacht dhúchasach. 

Ar Lá Fhéile Pádraig 2021, meabhraítear dúinn go roinnimid go léir an bhuairt, an spleáchas agus an géarghá le tuiscint a fháil, tuiscint ar féidir léi gach teorainn a shárú. I gceacht foghlama Covid19, tá léargas doshéanta le fáil - ní hamháin go bhfuil orainn go léir, le chéile, teacht trí cheo na paindéime, ach an mórtas, sotal agus díomas a bhaineann le smacht, le cur i bhfeidhm agus le heisiamh a chur dínn. Straitéisí saoil ab ea iad seo, a d’fhág a lorg i bhfoirm easpa daonnachta agus domhan i mbaol. 

Tá an deis againn anois le bliain anuas, iniúchadh a dhéanamh ar na tuairimí sin a chuir an dallamullóg orainn maidir le cé muid féin. Tá go leor le caitheamh uainn, agus b’fhiú dúinn seo a dhéanamh gan mhoill. Mar shampla, is cinnte nach bhfuil cogadh de dhíth le teacht ar shíocháin; mar sin nuair a thagtar ar leigheas, éacht eolaíochta a dhéanann galar a sheachaint nó a réiteach, ba chóir dúinn an éacht seo a roinnt, in ionad é a choimeád dúinn féin le hairgead a thuilleamh i gcomórtas trádála mí-chothrom.

Beidh spás don áthas nuair a éalóimid ó Covid19, ach beidh an t-áthas seo á stiúradh ag ár luachanna úra, a ndéanfaimid cleachtadh orthu agus muid ag tabhairt faoinár dturas nua le chéile. Agus muid ag teacht amach ó scáth Covid19, b’fhiú dúinn eolas a scaipeadh ar bhonn domhanda le turas comhroinnte a thógáil. Tá muinín san fhocal scríofa ag dul i léig, ní mór dúinn an muinín sin a athbhunú.

I mbliana, is cinnte go mbeidh achrann ann.  Cé go mbeidh cuimhní ann de thurais ón am atá caite, beidh díomá ann freisin go mbeidh gá le turais eile a chur ar athlá. Déanaimis comhbhrón leis na daoine sin gur bocht an t-ionadaí í an teicneolaíocht ar an gcaidreamh agus teagmháil san fhíorshaol. 

Ar bhealach úrnua i mbliana a stiúrfar an t-aitheantas tábhacht seo dár bPátrún, tobar an dóchais dúinn ar fad. Is féidir linn foghlaim uaidh mar a dhéanaimid i gcónaí, agus sna blianta amach romhainn nuair a bhaileoimid le chéile ag na mórshiúlta arís, ní bheimid ite ag an tomhaltas.

Cuimhneoimid siar ar Lá Fhéile Pádraig fiche fiche haon agus an tús a chuir muid leis an turas nua. Is turas é seo a bhfuil fonn orainn a roinnt leis an domhan mór agus a mhuintir go léir, ceann a chabhróidh linn athnuachan a dhéanamh ar an meas don Mháthair-Chruinne, a bhfuil baint againn uilig léi. D’fhág ár Naoimh Pádraig agus Bríd léargais agus críonnacht sheasmhach dúinn ar thábhacht an nádúir.

Amach anseo, nuair a chuimhneoimid siar ar Lá Fhéile Pádraig fiche fiche haon, go bhfillimid air le fuinneamh agus fonn, agus muid ag déanamh iarrachta an saol a chur ina cheart arís, go mall agus go cúramach. Ba iad an ceol agus an chruthaitheacht ár n-acmhainn le linn na paindéime, agus casaimid ar cheol an chroí nuair nach féidir linn teacht ar na focail – foirmeacha éagsúla athbheochana, féidearthachtaí cleachta, aistir iontais agus triail go háiteanna nua.

 

            “Déanaimid dearbhú,

            Údar dóchais i ndán dúinn.

            Seasaimid amach ón ndorchadas,

            Isteach go fáinne an lae nua”.

 

Ar son mhuintir na hÉireann, ba mhaith liom muintearas a dhéanamh leo siúd ar Éireannaigh iad, bíodh sin ó dhúchas, le hoidhreacht nó trí chaidreamh, agus iad siúd freisin a chabhraigh lenár nÉireannaigh an bhliain seo go háirithe. Guím Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona agus síochánta daoibh go léir, agus dóibh siúd ar chuid lárnach de chlann na hÉireann iad, mar aon lena cairde agus clanna ar fud an domhain.

Beir beannacht.

 

Audio:



[1] “Memory”, from New and Selected Poems (2014) by Michael D. Higgins, Liberties Press: Dublin.