Meeting of minds - Hume and Higgins

City of Culture media director Garbhan Downey talks about this week’s presidential visit.....

Michael D. Higgins, Irish President, academic, sociologist, poet, journalist and polyglot, is one of the most cultured men on this island – if not this planet.

So when he tells you that your cultural offer is “very special indeed”, you should sit up and take notice.

And that was the precise message he gave to the pupils of Rosemount Primary School, and later to the wider Derry public, when he visited the city this week.

The fifteen-minute showcase of singing, dancing and music, laid on by Rosemount pupils, delighted the President.

And he was visibly enraptured by 11-year-old clarinettist DJ Dunn’s stunning performance of ‘Danny Boy’ as a finale.

Well done to Principal Brendan Grant, his staff, his pupils, and the organising committee led by Aine Downey and Sean McMahon, for putting together such a tremendous reception. They didn’t just do the school proud, they did the city proud.

Later in his keynote address on Culture and Transformation at Magee, President Higgins spoke of how our artistic talent will become an economic driver as we emerge from the “wasteful burdens of the past”.

He told us that one of Derry’s key cultural strengths was our strong, rich sense of community. And he reminded us that culture was one of very few industries in Europe beating the recession, currently growing at 12.7 percent.

The President, who visited Derry twice last year, further affirmed his support for our City of Culture year by promising to return to the city soon to visit Ebrington Square and the Waterside.

Read more from Garbhan in the Journal every Friday