President Michael D Higgins Monday Engagements Chicago
(Cyril Regan, (CIIS), his wife Josephine and son David pictured with President Michael D. Higgins during his visit to the offices of Chicago Irish Immigrant Support and the Heritage Center).
President Michael D Higgins continued his week long visit to Chicago yesterday by visiting Gaelic Park in Oak Forest after attending the Irish Community Monthly Mass celebrated by well-known undocumented Irish supporter and activist, Fr Michael Leonard.
Over 1000 turned out to welcome the President on his visit where he spoke of the GAA in America as being one of the most obvious places to provide a great connection to home for Irish immigrants stating also that it offered a form of shelter to those in difficulty
Speaking on the third day of his visit to Illinois, President Higgins also said that for newly arrived immigrants in Chicago it was important to be able to make contact, especially with something that was already familiar to you, like the GAA.
The President said with the GAA abroad, barriers were broken down and it offered a great assurance, but also was a form of shelter for people in difficulties, and also the Gaelic Games themselves.
While it was useful to make contacts with relatives and family abroad, the network more recently was spanning out around sport, and that the GAA was right at the heart of that, Mr Higgins commented.
Later in the day he visited the offices of Chicago Irish Immigrant Support where he was welcomed by its Chairman, Cyril Regan. He acknowledged that the Irish arriving in the US did “feel a wrench and a sense of loss at having to leave their family, their parish and their locality”.
The President said that he wanted to state very clearly that the Diaspora was not “just a concept” but that it was “a network helping Irish people in several different circumstances”, not only with their immediate needs but also in “mapping out futures that we can share together”.
The President continues his fourth day of engagements on Monday by delivering the Harris School’s King Abdullah II Annual Leadership Lecture at the Drake Hotel in Chicago.