The current President of Ireland is a popular figure across the country, but here are ten facts about Michael D. Higgins that you probably didn’t know.
Michael D. Higgins is Ireland’s ninth President, with a Presidency spanning over ten years. Over this time, he has juggled Irish law and politics, made public appearances, and talked in great length to various publications about his life.
And yet, there is more to D. Higgins than meets the eye.
From being a human rights activist in his spare time to revealing a shocking secret from his youth in a 2011 interview, here are ten facts about Michael D. Higgins that you probably didn’t know.
10. He’s a poet – more than a politician
Michael D. Higgins was appointed as the first Minister for the Arts in Ireland in 1993. He not only appreciates the arts; he is also a published poet.
He has had four collections published to date. His personal notes are held at the National Library of Ireland.
9. He’s a sociologist – an academic
His first career was as a lecturer in Politics and Sociology. He taught at University College Galway and Southern Illinois University in the USA.
8. A former factory worker – his first job
Next in our ten facts about Michael D. Higgins is that he comes from humble beginnings.
He worked in a factory then as a clerk before becoming the first in his family to attend university (at University College Galway).
7. His wife is an actress – known for Easter Rising performance
Sabina Higgins (then Coyne) acted in an eight-part TV series Insurrection, which aired in 1966. RTE commissioned the programme to mark 50 years since the Easter Rising.
She trained in the “Stanislavski system”, developed by the Russian theatre practitioner Konstantin Stanislavski.
6. He was an activist – before his time
The President has a long history of supporting causes related to human rights. He opposed the Eighth Amendment in 1983, believing this to be the reason that he lost his seat as a TD for Labour.
He was heavily involved in the trade union movement, and travelled across the world advocating humanitarian causes.
5. Founder of TG4 – Ireland’s first Irish language TV station
You may know that Michael D.Higgins is a fluent Irish speaker. But halfway through our ten facts about Michael D. Higgins list, did you know that he set up TG4?
He actually launched the station as Minister for Arts in 1996.
4. Martin Sheen supported his Presidency run –famous friends
American actor Martin Sheen endorsed Michael D. Higgins ahead of his Presidential campaign in 2011.
The Hollywood star, whose mother was Irish, described the President as “a dear friend.”
3. He asked for a wage cut – over 20%
In his first term as President of Ireland, he asked for an income cut of 23.5%. This request brought his salary down from €325,000 to €250,000.
2. The Saw Doctors wrote a song about him – musical muse
The popular Galway band The Saw Doctors released Michael D. Rocking in the Dáil as a B-side in 1994.
1. He used to smoke marijuana – controversy on the campaign trail
The President admitted in an interview with the Irish Independent in 2011 that he had smoked marijuana as a postgraduate student at Indiana University.
However, this was as far as his drug use went.
“I saw people try LSD but I would have been terrified because of those I saw become dependent on drugs,” he said.
There we have it – our list of ten facts about Michael D. Higgins. Our President has lived a varied and interesting life!
Which fact surprised you the most?