I was delighted to get tickets to hear our President, Michael D. Higgins give a keynote speech here in London on October 14th.
The event took place at Congress House, Trade Union Congress, just off Tottenham Court Road. The President was to speak about the Life of Eva Gore-Booth. I would have been more familiar with her sister’s name, Countess Markievicz, in our history books. After listening to the President’s talk, it’s clear to see that Eva Gore-Booth’s name should be remembered with more prominence.
The President’s address was entitled “The Importance of Eva Gore-Booth’s Radical Vision in the Dramatic Historical Events in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries”
Eva Gore-Booth was a hero, living before her time. She was involved in the fight for Irish Freedom and she spoke out about World War I which was a big no no. She moved to Manchester and fought for workers rights and met Esther Roper. Together, they worked for the disenfranchised within society. President Higgins beautifully described their relationship as ‘life companions’.
A couple of notes about the night. I didn’t get to meet the President, there were about 300 people swarming around him for his attention after his address, he had his hands full. I do hope to meet him at some stage. I think I also spied a certain Martin O’Neil there I bought the President’s new book ‘When Ideas Matter – Speeches for an Ethical Republic’, I’d like to get him to sign it.
The other, shocking thing I discovered was how little I actually know about Irish history. And I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I didn’t do history until Leaving Cert. Maybe it’s because there was still an element of not talking about fighting for Irish Freedom and what actually went on. If I take anything from the night, it’s that I personally want to learn more about our little island and more about it’s people.