Two Irish leaders graced America’s eastern shores this fall – Taoiseach Enda Kenny and President Michael D. Higgins both visited the United States in late September of the year, the latter making his sixth official state visit of 2015.
Kenny received an honorary degree from Connecticut’s Quinnipiac University, home of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute.
“Quinnipiac is proud to present an honorary degree to the taoiseach whose life has been dedicated to to his people and the world,” said university president John L. Lahey. “He has guided Ireland through its most difficult times and has been a passionate defender of the rights of others whether in Ireland, the United States, Africa or the European Union. Under his leadership, Ireland’s economy has gone from virtual collapse to being the fastest-growing economy in the European Union today.”
The taoiseach also toured Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University, which offers the largest collection of artifacts and visual art relating to the Irish Famine of the 1840s.
While the prime minister was in Connecticut, President Higgins was in New York for an official state visit, having already been to Strasbourg, Gallipoli, Lebanon, Milan, and the U.K. this year. The president participated in the “UN Sustainable Development Summit,” continuing a recurring theme in his presidency, as he delivered a keynote address on sustainable development to the UN Economic Commission for Africa last year and marked the European Year of Development in an address at the Dóchas (the Irish Association of Non-Governmental Development Organizations) conference earlier in 2015. The president also participated in a Global Leaders’ Meeting on “Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment – A Commitment to Action,” which was hosted by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, and Chinese President, Xi Jinping.
In addition to participating in the UN sessions, President Higgins delivered the annual Emile Noël lecture at New York University, entitled “The European Union – Towards a Discourse of Reconnection, Renewal and Hope.” ♦