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Statement from President Higgins on the death of Desmond Fennell

Date: Mon 19th Jul, 2021 | 09:43

It is with great sadness that I learnt of the passing of Desmond Fennell, philosopher, writer, lecturer, and profound supporter of language rights and meaningful regionalism.

When writing extensively about issues both at home - including Irish nationalism and the ramifications of partition - and abroad, Desmond Fennell brought an originality of spirit and an informed independent analysis to bear on a wide range of topics. He was a vigorous disputant on versions of utopia, to which he gave a secondary place perhaps to Thomism, as I learned, if I remember correctly, as a sometime teaching colleague of his at UCG.

Born in Belfast and raised in Dublin, Fennell’s life embodied and embraced the transience of the Irish experience, working and studying in Germany, Spain, Belarus and Italy, among many others, while continuing to publish in Irish and British papers.

His writings on the Irish revolutionary period, and their central contention that the Irish revolution had not achieved its aims of cultural and economic independence, remain influential to this day, and will endure.

He will also be remembered by many for his work in the Connemara and his involvement with Mary and his family in the setting up of Raidió na Gaeltachta.

To his extended family, to Miriam, his children Oisín, Cilian, Natasha, Sorcha and Kate, and to all his family and friends, Sabina and I send our deepest condolences.

Desmond embraced life in all its glory and its challenges. May his example of writing and thinking in the public discourse of the street come to flourish. His legacy and his curiosity, I have no doubt, will continue to inspire.

Suaimhneas síoraí dá anam dílis.