President Michael D Higgins addressed a crowded Theatre Q in the Newman Building this evening, speaking at the inaugural Hyde Lecture 2018 on ‘The Legacy of Douglas Hyde.
UCD President Andrew Deeks introduced President Higgins to the room, which included students, faculty members of the School of Irish, Celtic Studies and Folklore and other Schools, and Douglas Hyde’s grand-daughter, Lucy Hyde Sealy. President Higgins met with Mrs Hyde Sealy before the address.
During his address, President Higgins swapped between speaking Irish and English, marking the intention that the lecture series be conducted bilingually. Higgins described how the Irish language influenced Hyde during his formative years and into his University experience. In his tribute, Higgins stated that Hyde had a “linguistic richness” which native Irish speakers at the time “did not fully understand”. Hyde became involved with the publication of two magazines during his time in Trinity College Dublin where he and others, President Higgins said, “flirted with separatism”.
Hyde, who spoke Hebrew, Latin and Greek in addition to Irish, was the first President of Ireland, serving from 1938 to 1945. As a prominent figure leading the Gaelic revival, Hyde also served as the first President of the Gaelic League from 1893 to 1915 and as a Senator in the NUI’s first Senate. Hyde became UCD’s first Professor of Modern Irish in 1909.
The address was held on the same day that President Higgins formally submitted his nomination papers at Custom House in Dublin as he seeks re-election to the Áras in late October.
Speaking ahead of his campaign launch on Wednesday, President Higgins said, “Since entering office as President in 2011, I have been honoured to serve Ireland and its people. I have dedicated myself to each aspect of the role from the constitutional responsibilities and representation of our nation at home and abroad, to those wider conversations and connections which I have, as President, been able to develop and deepen.
“I have sought to honour the many strands of our history, while also articulating a vision of a real Republic where the rights, equality, creativity and the participation of all are valued, encouraged and celebrated.
“At this important time for our nation I am once again offering to serve, and I am asking the people of Ireland to place their confidence in me.
“The President of Ireland must have experience, judgement, understanding and empathy, as well as a vision for our nation and its communities. In the forthcoming campaign, I will outline my vision for Ireland’s future, and my proposals for further encouraging participation, promoting equality, and deepening Ireland’s relationships with our neighbours, near and far, in a challenging international environment.”