Poetry books and history tomes were among the 100 books President Michael D. Higgins donated from his personal collection to Irish libraries in celebration of ‘Ireland Reads’ national reading day today.
The majority of the books were donated to Cabra Library and Central Library in the Ilac Centre in Dublin.
The President donated an “eclectic mix of fiction and non-fiction, including books of poetry, history and politics” according to his spokesman.
“The collection includes both books bought by the President and others that were given as gifts to President Higgins by the authors.”
The books have yet to be delivered, as they are currently going through the process of being catalogued and indexed by the library service.
One of the books donated was “A Journey called Home”, edited by Paul Casey. The book is a collection of poems from immigrants in Cork, with most poems being in two languages.
Another book is “Steady as She Goes”, the true story of an Irish boy’s ambition of going to sea.
Another book in his collection was “Portraits of Purpose: A Tribute to Leadership”, which is a visual chronicle of 127 Boston-based African American leaders and their allies. It focused on how they have continued the pursuit of freedom and justice in a post-civil rights era.
Keeping with the historical theme, President Higgins also added “True to Ireland” to the pile, a book which centres on Irish immigrants in New Zealand in the 1930s. It looks at how they remained conscientious objectors in the face of conscription for World War II.
This wasn’t the first time the president donated books during the pandemic, as he gifted 700 books to Cabra Library last February.
The donation today coincides with Ireland Read’s ‘Squeeze in a Read’ campaign in which participants are encouraged to set aside some time tomorrow to read.
So far, readers across the country have signed up to an online pledge to collectively set aside more than 480,000 minutes tomorrow to read.
Mr Higgins, who has published a dozen books of his own writing and poetry, said reading has always been an integral part of his life.
“Books have played, and continue to play, probably an inordinate role, in my own life. Books are a great friend,” he said at the launch of the campaign earlier this month.
He added that libraries “are the oxygen of public life, and most important are the library staff who have, over the years, created an atmosphere for generations of Irish children, women and men.”