President and Sabina Higgins host Bloomsday-themed Garden Party at Áras an Uachtaráin
Date: Sun 18th Jun, 2023 | 18:16
- President announces that an inscription of ‘A Flower Given To My Daughter’, written by James Joyce for his daughter Lucia, is to be installed on a memorial stone at Nora and James’s grave in Fluntern Cemetery in Zurich
- This year’s event also celebrates Seán O’Casey in what is the centenary year of his ‘Shadow of a Gunman’
- Today’s event is the first of six Garden Parties and a concert to be held at Áras over the coming weeks
President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina this afternoon hosted the first of six Garden Parties, which will end with a concert which will be held at Áras an Uachtaráin. The Garden Parties are phased over coming weeks taking account of the other work, events and business at Áras an Uachtaráin.
In line with previous years, this year’s Garden Parties commenced with a Bloomsday-themed event to celebrate the work of James Joyce.
At this opening event, President Higgins announced that, fulfilling his commitment to the wishes expressed to him by Joyce’s grandson Stephen Joyce, that an inscription of ‘A Flower Given To My Daughter’, written by James Joyce for his daughter Lucia, will be installed on a memorial stone at Nora and James’s grave in Fluntern Cemetery in Zurich in the coming weeks.
Speaking at the event, President Higgins said:
“Of all of the women who impacted on Joyce, it is perhaps his daughter Lucia and her artistic genius that has needed to be reclaimed, however late in the day. On the 12th of December last year, it was 40 years since the death of Lucia, in Northampton, England.
I am so pleased to announce today that the wish of Joyce’s grandson, Stephen Joyce, conveyed to me in numerous conversations before he died, that permission be given to have an inscription of ‘A Flower Given To My Daughter’, written by James Joyce for Lucia, to be executed at Nora and James’s grave in Fluntern Cemetery in Zurich, has finally been granted and a memorial stone to Lucia with the poem inscribed is due to be installed at the grave in the coming weeks. Mo bhuíochas le gach éinne a bhí páirteach, agus cabhrach.
My special thanks to the Zurich authorities. It will read:
“Frail the white rose and frail are
Her hands that gave
Whose soul is sere and paler
Than time’s wan wave.
Rosefrail and fair — yet frailest
A wonder wild
In gentle eyes thou veilest,
My blue-veined child.”
As a young woman, Lucia was celebrated as a remarkable artist of great promise when her modern dance performances caused a sensation in Paris, the south of France, and in Italy. Despite this, the adjective ‘troubled’ has attached itself to her name so tenaciously that her early genius is too easily dismissed.
As her father wrote, “Whatever spark or gift I possess has been transmitted to Lucia and it has kindled a fire in her brain”, although he did acknowledge that she was “an innovator, not yet understood”.
Her experiences of mental illness, including a sad period of more than three decades in the institutional setting of psychiatric hospitals, now need to be framed as part of a much larger story of an exceptional woman whose light was so unfairly extinguished.”
In addition to celebrating the work of Joyce, this year’s event also celebrated the work of Seán O’Casey, in what is the centenary year of ‘Shadow of a Gunman’, the first of O’Casey’s great Dublin trilogy.
To mark the occasion, Sabina Higgins read O’Casey’s piece on the Irish Citizen Army, while Smashing Times Theatre Company performed from ‘O’Casey’s Women’, highlighting the female influence on O’Casey.
Among those other performers appearing at the event, MC’d by Tom Dunne, were be Kila; Simon Morgan and Julie Feeney accompanied by Vincent Lynch and Richie Buckley; II Coro Italiano di Dublino; and a number of other artists.