Visit of the President of Ireland

Mary McAleese, President of Ireland
Photos: Emory Photo-Video

Emory Report

President of Ireland tours renowned Irish literary collection at campus visit

May 7, 2007 - Elaine Justice

President McAleese tours the archivesPresident of Ireland Mary McAleese and husband Martin McAleese stopped at Emory April 30 for a personal tour of the University's renowned Irish literary collections and an afternoon reception - all at Woodruff Library. Steve Enniss, director of the Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, and Rick Luce, vice provost and director of University libraries, were waiting for the Irish leader and her entourage in the Woodruff Room, where Enniss had arranged a selection of Emory's literary treasures from poets such as Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley and Paul Muldoon. As the McAleeses strolled along the polished table at one end of the room, Enniss explained the history of Emory's Irish literary collection, beginning with the work of Richard Ellmann, first Woodruff Professor at Emory, who inaugurated the series of lectures that brought Heaney, and eventually his papers, to the library.

Enniss noted that President McAleese knows Heaney personally. "These aren't distant literary figures, but friends and people she was very familiar with," said Enniss. McAleese expressed her deep appreciation for the warm welcome by Emory College Dean Bobby Paul; James Flannery, director of the W.B. Yeats Foundation and Winship Professor of Arts and Humanities; and Geraldine Higgins, associate professor of English and director of the Irish Studies Program. Students performed a dramatic reading of Heaney's "St. Kevin and the Blackbird," and President Emeritus Bill Chace presented McAleese with a broadsheet of Heaney's poem, "The Comet at Lullwater," inspired by Heaney's visit with the Chaces during which they observed the Comet Halle-Bopp in the Atlanta sky.