Saturday 24 February 2018

'Snowball' Higgins visits former school

Barry Duggan

HE has a much loftier title now, but he was known as 'Snowball' by his classmates in secondary school.

Michael D Higgins met up with some of those old friends from St Flannan's College in Ennis yesterday as he made his first trip to Clare since he was elected to the Aras last October.

The country's ninth President spent the majority of his childhood and teenage years in Clare.

And Mr Higgins spoke warmly of travelling from his home at Ballycar outside Newmarket-on-Fergus to Limerick city on the back of a Honda 50 to watch League of Ireland soccer matches while the GAA 'ban' was in force.

However, it was the mention of his secondary school nickname -- earned because of his thick head of fair hair -- which had him laughing openly.

"Snowball. I can confirm that. I was very pale and I had very blond hair," he said.

Mr Higgins attended St Flannan's from 1955 to 1960 and said the aim of most of his classmates was to win the Harty Cup in hurling.

The President was accompanied yesterday by his wife, Sabina, sister Kathleen, and brother, John, to a civic reception from Clare County Council yesterday where he caught up with old friends.

"The one real thing he had, he was a really nice young man. He was just a nice guy and a serious student," former classmate Liam Cahir (70) said of the President.

Today, Mr Higgins will meet with pupils from his old primary school in Ballycar who are visiting him in the Aras.

Irish Independent

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