Hillery Exhibition Comes to Library

Clare Champion, Friday, April 6, 2007

Part of the exhibition based on the state visits of former President of Ireland and Miltown-Malbay native, Dr. Patrick Hillery has been placed on display at the Sean Lemass Library in Shannon. From There to Here: the state visits of the Hillery Presidency was initially exhibited at Clare Museum in Ennis between November 2005 and February 2006. It featured panels and artefacts relating to state visits made and received by the president during his two terms as head of state from 1976-1990. Now, four of the six panels are on display in the Sean Lemass Library.

According to John Rattigan, curator of Clare Museum, “One of the functions of the President is to receive foreign heads of state on behalf of the people of Ireland. One of the most high profile heads of state to be received by President Hillery was US President Ronald Reagan in June 1984”. He continued, “Although Clare Museum is based in Ennis, our countryside service has enabled the people of Shannon to visit the exhibition on their doorstep”. Mr Rattigan added that the booklet that accompanied the original exhibition has also been made available to members of the public. “Space limitations mean that the artefacts cannot be displayed on this occasion but most of the objects from the exhibition can be viewed on-line at Sean Lemass Library where there is free access to the Clare Museum web site,” he said.

First elected at the 1951 General Election as a Fianna Fail T.D. for Clare, he remained in Dail Eireann until 1973. During this time, he served as Minister for Education (1959-1965), Minister for Industry and Commerce (1965-1966), Minister for Labour (1966-1969) and Minister for External Affairs (1969-1973). In 1973, he was appointed Ireland’s first European Commissioner, serving until 1976 when he was appointed President.

Dr. Hillery welcomed over a dozen heads of state to Ireland during his two terms of Presidency, including His Excellency Francois Mitterand, President of France (1988), The Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Japan (1985), Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands (1990) and His Holiness Pope John Paul II (1979).

The former President made a similar number of official visits abroad including attending the funerals of Yugoslavia’s President Tito (1980), USSR Presidents Bresnev (1982), Andropov (1984) and Chernenko (1985), Egyptian President Sadat (1981), Princess Grace of Monaco (1982) and Emperor Hirohito of Japan (1989).

Today, Dr. Hillery resides in Dublin with his wife, Maeve.

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