Aosdána and supporting artists


Sir, – During the past few weeks many stimulating articles and letters have appeared in your paper relating to Aosdána.

As an attempt to rise above the arguments and politics, I wish to inform your readers that the President of Ireland performs a very important ceremonial role in relation to Aosdána. Since its foundation in 1981 the President has always presented the golden torc to the elected saoithe.

In the past these have included our two Nobel Laureates the playwright Samuel Beckett and the poet Seamus Heaney. George Morrison (95 years of age) is the wonderful filmmaker who gave us Mise Éire.

This year he was elected saoi by the members of Aosdána and on March 9th, he was presented with the golden torc by President Michael D Higgins in the Arts Council Offices, Merrion Square. It was a very celebratory and moving occasion for all who attended.

In his speech prior to the presentation, the President said, “In any discussion on cultural access and citizenship it is critical that we remember the right to dignity of our great artists; our duty as a society to acknowledge that artists must be supported and enabled to experience the freedom from want so that they may be allowed to produce the works which contribute so much to both our society and to our international reputation”.

These generous words from our President should be the benchmark for the Arts Council, the Department of Arts and Heritage, the professional consultants and the financial auditors.

Please no more new rules and regulations, no more consultant reports, no more “work being measured like widgets” (Fintan O’Toole, Weekend Review, May 5th) but just a few moments so that we can, as Shakespeare put it, “perchance to dream”. – Yours, etc,


Member of Aosdána,


Co Louth.