I am no wordsmith, either as writer or a speaker, but I am a reader – and a passionate and a grateful one. And I take on this new role as your patron with great pleasure – conscious of the Society’s illustrious past, aware of the range of awards and prizes you give out each year to honour and support writers, and excited by all that I have heard about your plans for the future.
I have always had the greatest admiration for the Ismaili community's emphasis on intellectual and cultural exploration as a means of integration, and your determination to discharge your obligations as citizens of this country while maintaining your own special and distinctive traditions.
I know, and coming here for the last four years has confirmed to me, just how important we are to each other, at the end of the day.
Coming to Cork, with its proud history as a great maritime and trading city, gives us an opportunity to celebrate the strength of the economic and commercial relationship between our two countries which makes such a profound difference to us both.
All you talented young writers understand the thrill of choosing just the right words, and the lasting pleasure of creating a brilliant story. And what brilliant stories you all sent in to this competition!
Expressions such as ‘going with the flow’ and ‘trying to push water uphill’ were coined with good reason. That may seem trite, but to me it sums up why effective water management is both local and organised around the natural catchments which have been shaped by a combination of natural forces and human activity over millennia.
This memorial will stand for the courage and resilience that makes our Nation what it is, together with the values which keep us strong. It will symbolize, in perpetuity, our shared insistence that hope will always triumph over despair; and that, no matter what, our community will endure.
The ties between our two countries run deep, and today are as strong and as vital as they have ever been.
We are neighbours by Fate, partners by choice and friends because of the shared experience and deep affection that binds us.
Today, as we mark a century since they gave their lives, let us resolve to continue to fulfil their trust, so that every passing year will only add to the measure of their honour.