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Mary McAleese was born in Belfast. Like Mary Robinson she was lecturer in Law at Trinity College.

 Before becoming President she was Pro Vice-Chancellor at Queen's University, Belfast. She was elected President on November 11, 1997, beating four other candidates of which only one was male.

Mary Robinson was born in Mayo. She was a barrister and lecturer of Law at Trinity College. She was also a member of the Labour Party.

 She was elected President on December 7, 1990 and at 46 she was the youngest person to become President. During her term she travelled widely and increased the profile of the Presidency both at home and abroad. She resigned two months before the end of her first term in order to become United Natons Commissioner for Refugees.

Patrick Hillery was born in Clare. He was a member of Fianna Fáil and served as a minister on four occasions.

 As minister for Foreign Affairs he negotiated Ireland's entry into the EEC (now the EU) in 1973. He was also Ireland's first European Commissioner. He was not elected President but was an agreed candidate and took up office on December 3, 1976. He served two terms and retired on December 2,1990.

Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh was born in Wicklow. He was President of the Supreme Court and a judge in the European Court of Justice.

 He was 63 when he became President on December 19, 1974. However he resigned on October 22, 1976, after he was criticised by a government minister for referring a Bill to the Supreme Court before he signed it into law. He later died on March 21, 1978.

Erskine Childers Jr was born in London. His father was a prominent Republican and was on the Anti-Treaty side during the Civil War but was captured and executed.

 Erskine Childers Jr was a member of Fianna Fáil and served as a minister in five governments. He was Tánaiste prior to his election as President on June 25, 1973. However on November 17, 1974, he died suddenly aged 68.

Éamon De Valera was born in New York. He was one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising and for his role he was sentenced to death by the British.

 However it was later commuted to life imprisonment but he was released from jail in 1917 and in the 1918 General Election led Sinn Féin to a landslide victory. He was the biggest opponent of the Treaty but after the Civil War he left Sinn Féin and founded Fianna Fáil (1926). He was Taoiseach on three occasions and wrote the 1937 Constitution- Bunreacht na hÉireann. He was 76 when he was elected President on June 25, 1959 and served two terms in office before he retired on June 24, 1973. De Valera died on August 28, 1975 aged 92, having been at the forefront of Irish politics for over half a century.

Seán T. Ó Ceallaigh was born in Dublin. He was a founder of Sinn Féin and fought in the 1916 Easter Rising.

He was elected to the Dáil as a member of Fianna Fáil and served as a government minister. He became President on June 25, 1945. He served both his two, seven year terms and retired on June 24, 1959. He died on November 23,1966 at the age of 84.

Dubhghlas de hÍde was born in Sligo but he grew up in French Park, county Roscommon.

He was a co-founder of Conradh na Gaeilge (The Gaelic League), was also a poet and a playwright and he was Professor of Irish at UCD. He became Ireland's first President at the age of 78 on June 25, 1938 without an election as an agreed candidate and retired from office on June 24, 1945. He passed away on July 12, 1949, aged 89.

Message from President  Michael D. Higgins




President of Ireland

Message from
President Michael D. Higgins 

on the occasion of


Beathaisnéis Anseo


Michael D. Higgins

On 11 November 2011, Michael D. Higgins was inaugurated as the ninth President of Ireland.  He was reelected for a further term in 2018

A passionate political voice, a poet and writer, academic and statesman, human rights advocate, promoter of inclusive citizenship and champion of creativity within Irish society, Michael D. Higgins has previously served at almost every level of public life in Ireland, including as Ireland’s first Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht.

Michael D. Higgins was born on 18 April 1941 in Limerick city and was raised in County Clare. He was a factory worker and a clerk before becoming the first in his family to access higher education. He studied at the University College Galway, the University of Manchester, and the University of Indiana.

Michael D. Higgins is married to Sabina Higgins, and they have four children. Sabina Higgins attended the Stanislavsky Studio of acting in Dublin and was a founding member of the Focus Theatre.

As a lecturer in political science and sociology in National University of Ireland, Galway, and in the United States, Michael D. Higgins was a passionate proponent for the extension of access to third level education beyond the walls of established Universities. He was centrally involved in the development of extra-mural studies at National University of Ireland, Galway, and he travelled extensively across the West of Ireland to provide accessible evening classes for interested citizens.

A desire to work more directly for equality and justice led Michael D. Higgins to enter public life and he went on to serve as a public representative at many levels from Councillor and Mayor to 9 years in the Seanad and 25 in Dáil Éireann.

As Ireland’s first Minister for the Arts in 1993-97, Michael D. Higgins’s achievements include the reinvigoration of the Irish film industry, the establishment of Teilifís na Gaeilge, now TG4, and the repeal of censorship under Section 31 of the Broadcasting Acts. He also established a rich network of local arts and cultural venues which brought a crucial access to citizens across Ireland to these facilities. Moreover, he drove the revitalisation of Ireland’s canal network, resulting in over 1,000 kilometres of navigable waterways, supporting thousands of jobs, and creating wealth in many rural and economically-deprived areas of the State.

Michael D. Higgins has, like many in Ireland, seen generations of his family emigrate. He has a strong interest and solidarity with the Irish abroad and has been a regular visitor to Irish Centres in Britain.

Throughout his life, Michael D. Higgins has campaigned for human rights and for the promotion of peace and democracy in Ireland and in many other parts of the world, from Nicaragua and Chile to Cambodia, Iraq and Somalia. In 1992, Michael D. Higgins was the first recipient of the Seán MacBride Peace Prize from the International Peace Bureau in Helsinki, in recognition of his work for peace and justice in many parts of the world.


Michael D. Higgins is also a writer and poet, contributing to many books covering diverse aspects of Irish politics, sociology, history and and culture. He has published two collections of essays — ‘Causes for Concern — Irish Politics, Culture and Society’ and ‘Renewing the Republic’. He has also published four collections of poetry — ’The Betrayal; The Season of Fire; An Arid Season’ and ‘New and Selected Poems’.


Among the other appointments Michael D. Higgins has held are:

  • Member of Dáil Éireann for 25 years;
  • Member of Seanad Éireann (the Irish Senate) for 9 years;
  • Ireland’s first Cabinet Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht 1993-97;
  • As Minister, he had direct responsibility for the promotion of the Irish language and for the economic and social development of Irish-speaking areas in the State;
  • Labour Party Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs in the Irish Parliament and founder member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs;
  • Lord Mayor of Galway on two occasions;
  • Honorary Adjunct Professor at the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland, Galway;
  • Regular columnist for the popular ‘Hot Press’ magazine over the period 1982—1992, during which he engaged a young audience in the social issues of the day.

Message from President Michael D. Higgins

Michael D. Higgins


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