On 11 November 2011, Michael D. Higgins was inaugurated as the ninth President of Ireland.
A passionate political voice, a poet and writer, academic and statesman, human rights advocate, promoter of inclusive citizenship and champion of creativity within Irish society, Michael D. Higgins has previously served at almost every level of public life in Ireland, including as Ireland’s first Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht.
Michael D. Higgins was born on 18 April 1941 in Limerick city and was raised in County Clare. He was a factory worker and a clerk before becoming the first in his family to access higher education. He studied at the University College Galway, the University of Manchester, and the University of Indiana.
As a lecturer in political science and sociology in National University of Ireland, Galway, and in the USA, he was centrally involved in the development of extra-mural studies at NUI, Galway, and across the West of Ireland providing accessible evening classes for interested citizens.
Equality and justice led Michael D. Higgins to enter public life and he went on to serve as a public representative at many levels from Councillor and Mayor to 9 years in the Seanad and 25 in Dáil Éireann. As Ireland’s first Minister for the Arts in 1993-97, Michael D. Higgins’s achievements include the reinvigoration of the Irish film industry, the establishment of Teilifís na Gaeilge, now TG4, and the repeal of censorship under Section 31 of the Broadcasting Acts. He also established a rich network of local arts and cultural venues which brought a crucial access to citizens across Ireland to these facilities. Moreover, he drove the revitalisation of Ireland’s canal network, resulting in over 1,000 kilometres of navigable waterways, supporting thousands of jobs, and creating wealth in many rural and economically-deprived areas of the State.
Michael D. Higgins has, like many in Ireland, seen generations of his family emigrate, and throughout his life has campaigned for human rights and for the promotion of peace and democracy in Ireland, Nicaragua, Chile, Cambodia, Iraq and Somalia. In 1992, he was the first recipient of the Seán MacBride Peace Prize from the International Peace Bureau in Helsinki, in recognition of his work for peace and justice in many parts of the world.
Michael D. Higgins, as writer and poet has published two collections of essays — ‘Causes for Concern — Irish Politics, Culture and Society’ and ‘Renewing the Republic’. He has also published four collections of poetry — The Betrayal; The Season of Fire; An Arid Season and New and Selected Poems.
In 2009 Michael D. Higgins became the Honorary President of The Percy French Summer School