President visits Circle of Life Garden
President Michael D. Higgins and his wife, Sabina, visited the Circle of Life Organ Donor Commemorative Garden on Saturday, 27th September. The visit was organised in conjunction with the the Annual Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving which was held this year in Galway Cathedral.
Organised by the Irish Kidney Association, the Annual Service of Remembrance & Thanksgiving, is one of the most important events in the calendar of organ donation and transplantation, and is attended by relatives and friends of organ donors and organ recipients and their families. This is the first time since the event was first organised over 29 years ago that it was held outside of Dublin, and was held in Galway to give the many hundreds of people from around the country who attend the service, the opportunity of visiting the commemorative garden in Salthill which was formally opened in early May of this year. It is estimated that over 2,000 people attended this year's service.
Speaking at an emotional but joyous ceremony at the commemorative garden following the Service at the Cathedral, the President spoke of the importance of organ donation and said that "too many people die waiting for a transplant". He also praised the generosity of organ donor families for giving the greatest gift possible to others.
Hundreds of people made their way to the garden following the Service in the Cathedral, but unfortunately due to traffic problems, many of them did not arrive on time for the President's address. All of those in attendance spoke of the very special and spiritual atmosphere of the garden and the ceremony, and many tears were shed in memory of departed loved ones.
Meeting the President at the Circle of Life Garden were from left: Stephen O'Sullivan, Chairman of the IKA; Phyllis Cunningham, Chief Transplant Coordinator at Beaumont Hospital; Martina Goggin, Strange Boat Donor Foundation, President Higgins and his wife Sabina; Denis Goggin, Strange Boat Donor Foundation, Cllr. Donal Lyons Mayor of Galway and Ann and Billy Lawless, of Galway Chicago Sister Cities International, one of the main sponsors of the commemorative garden.
The President holding a carving on Connemara Marble by Ray Flaherty which was presented to the President during his visit to the garden. Ray's carvings and artisty are very much a highlight of the garden features.
During the President’s visit to the garden, an original choral/dance composition titled “The Spirit of Giving”
was performed, reflecting the relationship of profound gratitude from
organ recipient to donor, and celebrates with joy the wonderful and
hopeful gift of new life through donation. The performance incorporated
a dedication to his donor written by heart recipient, Terry Mangan, and a poem, dedicated to recipients, written by Martina Goggin, parent
of Éamonn, an organ donor. All the performers have a connection with
organ donation and transplantation and included organ recipients, and
friends and family members of organ donors: Peadar Ó hIcí; Enda
McCabe; Elaine Fitzgerald; Ruth McGann; Liam Glynn; Rachel Murray;
Jamie McGettigan; Catherine O'Beirn; Peggy Higgins; Kasia Voettel and
Martina Goggin. The music was composed and arranged by composer and vocalist, Kathie Prince. Choreography and project coordination was by Patricia Glynn.
A heartfelt thanks to everybody who made this day so special.
Listen to a podcast of a report on the day's events by Marie Louise O'Donnell on RTE's Today with Sean O'Rourke
View a video clip of the President's visit on the Irish language website: Meon Eile