Crowds line street for Prince of Wales and President of Ireland visit

Crowds of well-wishers lined Ashton Street this morning, as the Prince of Wales and the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins visited the University to cement their roles as joint patrons of the Institute of Irish Studies.

The patrons, alongside the Duchess of Cornwall and Sabina Higgins, arrived at the iconic Victoria Gallery & Museum (VG&M) to cheers from onlookers. They appeared relaxed as they made their way around shaking hands and having conversations with members of the public, students and staff.

They were then introduced to representatives from the University and Institute, including the Vice- Chancellor, Professor Dame Janet Beer and the Director of the Institute of Irish Studies, Professor Peter Shirlow, among others, before being escorted into the VG&M.

After taking the opportunity to have a private conversation, the new patrons were introduced to Irish community groups based in Liverpool, as well as students studying with the Institute.

Dame Janet opened the signing ceremony by announcing the establishment of official Joint Patronage Lectureship, in the guests’ honour, before Professor Shirlow delivered a talk emphasising the “glorious interdependence” of these islands.

Professor Frank Shovlin, who specialises in Irish literature, read a letter written by the current focus of his research, John McGahern to one of the great names of Irish poetry, Seamus Heaney. Seamus Heaney’s daughter was in attendance.

Ahead of the official signing of the patronage documents, Katherine Parke, who is studying for an MA in Irish Studies, read the Paul Muldoon poem, The Language Issue in Gaelic and English. The patrons were then treated to a performance of bluegrass music by Caitlin Gilligan, as they made their way to the exit and on to further appointments across the city.

Dame Janet said: “The importance of this joint patronage for the Institute and for the University of Liverpool cannot be overstated.

“In recognition of today’s visit, I am pleased to announce that the University has awarded the Joint Patronage Lectureship to the Institute which will enable us to build further on the excellent scholarship in this area.”

Professor Peter Shirlow said: “The joint patronage of His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales and the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins is an indication of the Institute’s role in Liverpool and further afield.

“This is a truly important visit that recognises that the Irish community in Britain makes a vitally important contribution through learning, character and trade.”

The University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies’ foundations lie in the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement to encourage greater understanding and positively framed contact between the two islands. The Institute of Irish Studies was consequently established in 1988, and it is unique in terms of scholarship and outreach. Its internationally-recognised excellence in teaching, research and outreach beyond academia was recognised in 2007 by the Irish government through the creation of an endowed chair in Irish Studies.

The Prince of Wales’ and President Higgins’ joint patronage of the Institute was announced in September 2017, on a shared visit to Dumfries House, the Scottish estate His Royal Highness saved for the nation, in Ayrshire.

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