At the presentation, Professor James Flannery said: “ Since growing up as the child of parents born in Ireland, learning of my Irish roots has been one of the defining impulses of my life. My bedtime stories were mostly about the great monastic community of Clonmacnoise, the home of my father, but there were also fairy stories that my mother had heard growing up in an Irish-speaking family in West Clare. Certain seeds were planted in my psyche then, and they have been growing ever since, especially through my exposure to Yeats, the songs of Thomas Moore and simply living and working in Ireland. My work as a teacher, scholar, theater director and singer has been motivated primarily by a wish to share with others the incredible richness and beauty of Irish culture, as I have experienced it.
Receiving a Certificate of Irish Heritage from Minister Jimmy Deenihan, whose portfolio is Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, is a deeply moving experience. I was especially grateful that the Certificate included the names and birthplaces of my two parents. They would have appreciated that immensely. As Yeats would put it,
Think where a man’s glory most begins and ends,
And say my glory was I had such friends.