14 December 2015
We recently announced our Embassy’s programme of events to commemorate the Easter Rising of 1916. In all, we are supporting 87 events in various parts of Britain and I would expect this number to grow in the coming months.
17 November 2015
I recently launched a new anthology of Irish poetry, Windharp: Poems of Ireland since 1916. These poems offer a kind of potted history of Ireland during the past 100 years. As its editor, Niall MacMonagle, puts it, they speak 'of the country's people and beliefs, its landscape, its passions and politics, and the extraordinary changes that have occurred over the past hundred years.' This collection is a kind of repository of national experience since 1916, illustrating the poet, Paula Meehan's view that 'nothing is ever lost that makes its way into poetry'.
29 October 2015
On the 27th of October, I gave evidence at the House of Lords’ EU Committee offering an Irish perspective on the current British debate about its future in the European Union. I spoke in response to questions from the Committee members. Here is a summary of the points I made.
16 October 2015
It’s been a great month of rugby during this World Cup, with some very exciting games including Ireland’s epic victory over France. I hope that there will be a few more weeks of excitement for Ireland. Whatever happens, however, we will be left with fond memories of games at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, Wembley and the Olympic Stadium that will be savoured for many a year.
1 September 2015
While Daniel O'Connell enjoyed an exceptional international reputation during his lifetime, Britain was the country, aside from Ireland, with which he had the closest association. It was to Britain that he fled when the French Revolution made life on the continent unpalatable. It was in London, at Lincoln's Inn, that O'Connell undertook his legal studies and it was at the Westminster Parliament that he served as an M.P. for 17 years following the enactment of Catholic Emancipation in 1829.
29 July 2015
I was in York recently for what I believe was the 39th Conference of the International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures (IASIL), an annual event bringing together a global community of scholars with an interest in our literatures (in the Irish and English languages). The five-day conference attracted about 160 participants from a range of countries, including Ireland, Britain, Korea, Egypt, Poland, the Czech Republic, Brazil, Australia, Portugal, Japan and the United States.
17 July 2015
Our Government recently published plans for a global commemoration of the Easter Rising of 1916, which will include events being organised by my colleagues at our Embassies around the world. This commemoration will be especially relevant in countries with significant populations of Irish birth and descent like Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
3 July 2015
I spoke recently at an SDLP-organised event at the House of Commons on the implications for Ireland, North and South, of the coming UK referendum on continued EU membership. Here is a summary of what I said on an issue of great concern for Ireland.
12 June 2015
I am spending this weekend in Sligo, a beautiful part of the west coast of Ireland, along our Wild Atlantic Way. This visit to Sligo coincides with the 150th anniversary of the birth of WB Yeats. The poet was born on 13 June 1865 in Sandymount on the shores of Dublin Bay, but it is Sligo that is known as 'Yeats Country.'
9 June 2015
With the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo now upon us, I have been reading about the Duke of Wellington, whose old London home, Apsley House, is located not far from our Embassy. In particular, I have been reflecting on the Iron Duke's Irishness and the Irish presence in the ranks of Wellington's army.
26 May 2015
While I do enjoy visiting art galleries, I would not consider myself to be any kind of authority on Irish Art, which is why I have hesitated to write this Blog. Throughout my life, I have tended to draw on Irish writing as an artistic guide to the country of my birth, upbringing and undying affection.
11 May 2015
As part of the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of the great Irish poet, WB Yeats, the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool recently arranged an evening of readings from, and discussion of, Yeats's work. The Institute is a major centre for Irish studies in Britain. I am a big supporter of the Institute because I see Irish studies as an important means by which knowledge and understanding of Ireland can be enhanced on our neighbouring island.
23 April 2015
A few months ago the leading Irish TV journalist, David Davin-Power, sent me a photograph he had taken at a military cemetery in the Dardanelles. He had been there filming for a documentary on the Irish involvement at Gallipoli, which is now available on the RTE Player and is well worth watching. The photo sent to me was of the headstone of an Irish soldier who lost his life during the Gallipoli campaign whose 100th anniversary will be marked this weekend.
16 April 2015
This week I launched an anthology of poetry entitled Poems on the Underground, published by Penguin Books and edited by Judith Chernaik, Gerard Benson and Cicely Herbert.
27 March 2015
I recently had the opportunity to host an event at the Embassy in connection with the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize, which is awarded biannually in memory of Ambassador Ewart-Biggs who was killed in Dublin in 1976. Here is the gist of what I said when the award was presented to Charles Townshend for his book The Republic: the fight for Irish independence, 1918-1923.
6 March 2015
Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of co-hosting an event at our Embassy with the High Commissioner of Kenya, Mr Lazarus Amayo, in association with VSO and UN Women. It was held to mark International Women’s Day and was designed to highlight the continued importance of gender equality, an issue on which much work still needs to be done.
06 March 2015
I travelled to Guernsey on 4 March for a unique World War 1 commemoration. It was my second visit to the island. I had been in Guernsey in June 2014 with the Taoiseach for a session of the British-Irish Council, which meets twice a year, bringing together the Heads of Government from Dublin, London, Belfast, Edinburgh, Cardiff, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.
27 February 2015
I was asked recently to speak at an Investment Conference and attended by London-based companies with an interest in Ireland. It was my task to make the opening remarks. Here is what I said.
05 January 2015
I look forward this year to celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of the great Irish poet, William Butler Yeats. Literary anniversaries come and go, but this Yeats anniversary is a big one for me. Why? I have three broad reasons for giving Yeats 2015 special attention.