Music director was moved to tears by 'spiritual quality' of Haughey's voice


Charles Haughey’s voice was praised by a prominent English music teacher for its “spiritual quality” that rose in full flow to “a most moving vibrato”.

In a letter written shortly after Haughey became taoiseach in 1979, Dame Ruth King, music director for nearly 20 years of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, admitted to being “moved to tears” by Haughey’s “stirring” voice.

Hers was one of dozens of fan letters written to Haughey, some quite fulsome, which have been released this year as part of the State papers.

Writers included poetry and Mass cards. A Wicklow writer quoted Ovid before proclaiming: “we are all keenly aware that the alternatives to your rule are simply unacceptable”.

In her letter, responding to a Haughey speech, Dame Ruth said: “I write as a musician, to thank you for the music through your voice . . . It was there in the rhythm – unflagging, strong . . . and this carries the power to stir the wills of people but you have also a lift in the tone, always upward which raises the heart: but most important was the spiritual quality which emerged in a most moving vibrato whenever your own love of Ireland and faith and confidence in your people was deepest. I confess to being moved to tears. These three things are only found together in the voice of a leader. I have heard it in Churchill, in de Gaulle . . . ”