Monday 22 January 2018

Ruth Dudley Edwards:The dame who chose to arise and follow Charlie

The music director moved to tears by Haughey's voice had a dark side to her personality,

Ruth Dudley Edwards

Ruth Dudley Edwards

I love reading the secrets from State papers of 30 years ago to which we're treated every January, but they don't often make me laugh.

This year, however, brought this priceless report from Joe Humphreys in The Irish Times. Headed "Music director was moved to tears by 'spiritual quality' of Haughey's voice", it recounted how Dame Ruth King, "a prominent English music teacher", had written a fan letter to Charlie Haughey shortly after he became Taoiseach in December 1979.

"I write as a musician," she gushed, "to thank you for the music through your voice. . . It was there in the rhythm – unflagging, strong. . . and this carries the power to stir the wills of people but you have also a lift in the tone, always upward which raises the heart: but most important was the spiritual quality which emerged in a most moving vibrato whenever your own love of Ireland and faith and confidence in your people was deepest. I confess to being moved to tears. These three things are only found together in the voice of a leader. I have heard it in Churchill, in de Gaulle. . ."

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