Visit of the Irish President to Leipzig University

Visit of the Irish President to Leipzig University

As part of a short-notice three-day state-visit, the president of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, visited Leipzig University together with the Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister), Simon Coveney. As Irish is the first national language of Ireland and its president an ardent supporter of his native tongue, he not only started his one-hour keynote speech in Irish, but was also intensively engaged with our students of Irish during the subsequent reception.

Part of the meeting was also an exhibition of rare Celtica, produced at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century by Ernst Windisch, who was also Rector of Leipzig university. All famous German Celtic scholars of the first half of the 20th century were instructed by him. However, he also influenced foreign scholars, among others, one of the major editors of early Irish manuscripts, Whitley Stokes, whose 150 note books are kept in the Albertina, the university library. A small selection of notes on earliest IOrish manuscripts, but also Cornish and Breton pieces were made available to the president. The rector of the university made a facsimile of pages of the Táin Bó Cúalnge [sic] in Irish and German from 1905 available to the president as well as correspondence by Stokes on some of its issues and an Irish Grammar (in German) and dictionary (dated 1879 and 1880).

Michael D. Higgins, who was in Leipzig for the third time, established clear links between Sorbian, Irish and other minority issues. He was impressed by the high number of students and their enthusiasm. The visit was well reflected in the media, see FAZ – with a column by the president as well as articles in the LVZ and Sächsische Zeitung, and the Irish Times. The speech of the president can be downloaded here or here.


last modified: 18.03.2020