‘Riverdance’ audience told of importance of tradition and community
Michelle Obama and her daughters, Malia and Sasha, with Fionnuala Kenny, at a performance of Riverdance in the Gaiety Theatre. Photograph: Eric Luke
At the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin today, before a special performance of Riverdance, she said it was “good to be home”.
“What my girls are learning is that every day, their home gets bigger and bigger and bigger. It is no longer just the south side of Chicago or Washington DC, but it is Moneygall, it is Dublin – it is the world. And that is true for you.”
On her visit to Trinity College Dublin earlier in the day, in the company of her daughters Malia and Sasha, Ms Obama said: “The girls had a chance to explore those shelves and trace their Irish lineage, which was a very powerful thing to find out, that these girls that were born on the south side of Chicago can trace their roots back here to Ireland, way back to the 1600s.”
She said young people moved her “in ways that you don’t even imagine . . . You have made my family feel right at home in Ireland and you guys are pretty awesome.”
She and her husband had enjoyed their last visit to Ireland.
“Everywhere we went we were welcomed with huge smiles and open arms – and lots of rain, which we handled. And when we left, we knew that our girls had to experience all of the warmth and beauty of this place for themselves. And that’s one of the reasons why we’re here today.”
She urged young people not to take community and family for granted. “You are supported by such wonderful families and such strong communities and traditions . . . don’t ever take those things for granted, because all of that gives you that strong foundation that you are going to need, a foundation that’s going to allow you to become anything that you want to be – because it really starts with family.
“I am here because I came from a strong foundation, all the way in Chicago. And it has lifted me up, my family, my community, to be able to stand here today as first lady of the United States.”
She called on the young audience to allow their imaginations to run free. “I want you all to think really big about who you want to be. I want your imaginations to soar high, because right now, that’s the only thing that stops you from being whatever you want to be. It’s the limit of your thinking.
“If you work hard enough – and it’s all about hard work – if you believe in yourself, it is so true, but more importantly, if you understand that the most important thing for you to do is to be able to pick yourself up when you fall – because most of life is falling . . .
“I want you to look at me and Barack and all these wonderful leaders and understand that we are you. We are just like you – just kids who worked a little hard and dreamt pretty big, and got to do some wonderful things.”
Ms Obama was introduced by Fionnuala Kenny, wife of Taoiseach Enda Kenny. President Michael D Higgins’s wife Sabina also attended.