By Ann Marie Foley - 11 March, 2014
As many Irish people all over the world think of home on St Patrick’s Day, President Michael D Higgins said that they will be “foremost in our thoughts”.
In a St Patrick’s day message released today (Tuesday 11 March) the President stated, “Wherever they may be, we hope that our sons and daughters are happy and prospering in their adopted communities and that they will have some opportunity, with friends and neighbours, to share the joyous celebration of our patron saint.”
He also remembered in a special way the Irish peacekeepers and humanitarian workers “whose sense of service to vulnerable people in distant places prevents them from being home on this special day.”
The President said that on 17 March we remember St Patrick and his very difficult arrival on our shores. He came as a slave, yet Patrick forgave his captors and became part of the community.
“We recall the transformative power of his great spirit of forgiveness and generosity. It was this generous spirit that commended Patrick to be embraced as our beloved patron saint.”
President Higgins said his name has since become synonymous with “an inclusive and authentic version of Irishness with its stress on the duty and the joys of hospitality.”
Recalling that St Patrick’s Day also marks Spring – a season of welcome renewal after severe weather – especially after the destruction of recent weeks, the President added, “Patrick’s values of pastoral concern and human solidarity were much in evidence as members of the emergency services, local authority workers and good neighbours reached out to assist those who were afflicted by the storms and the flooding.”
He added, “It was an uplifting example of that spirit of friendship and generosity embodied by Patrick in his own lifetime and which continues to define our sense of community today.”
He said that those who reflect on the life of St Patrick are conscious of how the theme of migration has remained very much part of our national story and of defining us as a society and a people.
The President urged Irish people to make a special effort to include in the national celebration those migrants who have made Ireland their new home.
He also welcomed all those who visit Ireland for St Patrick’s Day in Ireland, and hoped they will connect with deep authentic aspects of Irish life such as music, culture, sports, natural environment and rich community life.