Water under the Bridge: President Mary McAleese

Posted on November 10, 2011

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Mary McAleese

When President Mary McAleese took office on the 11th November 1997, she became the Eight-President of the Ireland. I was still in the first couple of weeks of  first year in secondary school in St. Anne’s Community College, Killaloe, Co. Clare.  Bizarrely, some may argue, I do remember that Presidential campaign and its prospective candidates (Dana v. 1.0). McAleese’s affability, approach-ability and her willingness to learn (Remember when she could not speak As Gaelige when she began office!) has earned her a favored place in mine and many people’s hearts. She embraced the theme of her Presidency, “Building Bridges” and built more bridges that the any National Development Plan could have ever envisioned.

Her efforts and contributions to the cause of Peace on this island have not gone unrewarded and we will continue to reap those benefits of peace.In what will become a water-shed moment, she worked to bring H.M. Queen Elizabeth II to this part of the island in 2011. This was the culmination of fourteen years of work and reconciliation on both sides of this island.  There can never be a return to the old ways but with acknowledging the bad that was done, we can hope to move forward to continued peace in our time.

She began her Presidency visiting our Peace-Keeping troops in Lebannon and she ended it doing the same thing. Peace is always on one side of a knife’s edge. It must be protected and recognised.

President McAleese has been a tireless contributor to the community and voluntary sector during her presidency. I have on occasion scanned the Presidential public diary on http://www.president.ie just for a gander. Every time I did, she was at the opening of a new building; visiting troops; delivering speeches of State and stories of personal experience.

In my time with the Limerick Pride Festival, we were always guaranteed a letter of support from the President every year. She will be the President I remember for highlighting the plight of LGBT youth in this country and internationally while simultaneously being the person who signed into law the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Co-Habitees Act 2010. Though there is much more that could have been done by the other branch of Government with that Act, she has been a good friend to the LGBT community.

As she finalises her term tonight and the Presidential Commission temporarily holds the Office of President, she should be proud of her time. In the immortal words of Shakespeare’s Othello, “I have done the state some service, and they know’t —No more of that“.

Go raibh míle maith agat go mór tUachtarán Mhic Ghiolla Íosa do gach do chuid iarrachtaí.

Go n-éirí an bóthar leat
Go raibh an ghaoth go brách ag do chúl
Go lonraí an ghrian go te ar d’aghaidh
Go dtite an bháisteach go mín ar do pháirceanna
Agus go mbuailimid le chéile arís,
Go gcoinní Dia i mbos A láimhe thú.

I have come to know Ireland as intimately as any human being ever could. Ours is an exquisitely beautiful, welcoming country and you would be hard put to find finer people anywhere on this planet. They deserve to live in peace and prosperity and I will continue to pray that such a doubly blessed time will come and soon. It has been the most fulfilling experience to serve my country as president.

Thank you for giving me that opportunity. I hope I have honoured your trust.

Le grá agus buíochas ó chroi, slán agus beannacht.

President Mary McAleese,

Eight President of Ireland.

Source: The Irish Times

Presidential flag of Ireland.

Image via Wikipedia

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