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Irish President Visits Phoenix

December 16, 2008

Submitted by Irish Fireside listener Jim Sanford…

Yesterday, my wife Betty and I had the honor and the pleasure, I might add, to meet a most remarkable lady in Mary McAleese, the current President of Ireland. She addressed the crowd of about 300 people packed inside the Irish Cultural Center in downtown Phoenix and was both charming and humorous in a very personal way.

Her story is remarkable in that she was born and spent her early years in the Ardoyne section of Belfast, a staunch “Loyalist” bastion in Northern Ireland where Catholics were, to put it mildly, not wanted. They finally were forced out…machine gun fire to their house, beatings, threats, etc.

Mary eventually received her law degree from Queen’s University in Belfast where she later returned to become the first female pro-vice Chancellor of her alma mater. She also spent several years as a law professor at Trinity College in Dublin and was a journalist for a time as well.

After her address, she made her way around the gathering taking time to shake hands and say hello. Both Betty and I were fortunate to meet her. When I told her I had read where she was once told by their parish priest that she could never become a lawyer because she was a girl and her mother promptly pulled the chair out from under him and told him to leave, Mary winked with a smile, and held her finger to her mouth saying “shh, we don’t talk about that any more”.

We also met the Irish Ambassador to the U.S. and his wife, and they both were charming and friendly as well. Along with the music and dancing it was a nice experience. The only thing I missed was not having an Irish Coffee. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to wait for the holidays.

Hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

Love, Jim and Betty

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 18, 2008 12:48 AM


    Maith Thú on the well written synopsis.

    I wish I had known who you were, as I would have introduced myself. It was the perfect “Irish” day for her visit to the Cultural center, to be sure.

    She and her husband were both so personable and accessible. I talked a bit of football with her husband. She and I spoke of Co. Roscommon, as well.

    I am looking forward to the Winter Solstice celebration this Sunday at the Cultural Center

    Nollaig Shona Duit,


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