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Statement by President Higgins on the death of Pete St John

Date: Sat 12th Mar, 2022 | 20:05

People throughout Ireland and beyond will have been saddened to hear today of the death of Pete St John.

Pete had the rare gift of being able to write songs that while new and original creations, immediately assumed a timeless quality and central place in all our lives. It is hard to imagine a world where songs like The Rare Ould Times did not exist and in his work Pete has left us with songs that not only defined his own career, but those of many other musicians and indeed all of us as a people.

It is noteworthy that Pete has left us on the day that Ireland play England in a 6 Nations rugby match, a sport and fixture that has been indelibly associated with his song The Fields of Athenry for decades and the singing of it at today’s match of course takes on a particular poignancy as people throughout Ireland remember Pete.

Pete was a close friend of Sabina and myself over many years and it was an honour to host him in Áras an Uachtaráin in June 2019 where he performed his song on environmental awareness, ‘Waltzing on Borrowed Time’. That was reflective of the deep care and concern which Pete had throughout his work in protecting and preserving the vital things in our world. We will all miss this lovely engaged caring man, none more than who had the privilege of knowing him as an indomitable source of inspiration and song.

I would like to send my deepest condolences to his sons Kieron and Brian Mooney, and to all his family and friends.