I was asked to make a behind-the-scenes document of some of Ireland’s renowned writers, musicians and singers, as well as emerging artists, gathering at the home of the President of Ireland to make a special programme dedicated to Irish people worldwide. The performances of all the artists were filmed in Áras an Uachtaráin allowing viewers everywhere to experience the historic and beautiful home of the Presidents of Ireland.

Speaking about the project, President Higgins said:
“I am very grateful to all the artists who responded so positively to my invitation to be part of this worldwide call to Irish people to celebrate an Irishness of which we can all be proud. I am very pleased that RTÉ and The Gathering 2013 agreed to be partners in this important initiative.

Throughout our history, literature, music and art have been a source of great strength, have helped us cope with adversity, have not only soothed the loss which they described so well but also opened the space for new possibilities of renewal and change and created joy. I hope the programme will encourage Irish people everywhere to engage with the valuable resource that is our culture, to look to our creative possibilities and to project our Irishness into the world in the positive way that has been the achievement of our artists and cultural workers.”

The special programme features President Higgins in conversation with Bono, Séamus Heaney, Druid Theatre’s Garry Hynes and playwright Tom Murphy and Christy Moore. There are music performances from Steve Cooney, Glen Hansard, Lisa Hannigan, Martin Hayes, Imelda May, Christy Moore, Róisín O, Iarla O Lionaird, Peadar O Riada, David Power and The Script.

The programme also includes poetry and drama. Actress Marie Mullen performs the final scene of Tom Murphy’s play Famine; poet Louis de Paor reads ‘An Glaoch’ a bilingual poem he created for this project; Paula Meehan recites her poem ‘Home’; and in ‘Airspace’ Joseph O’Connor reflects on the richness and diversity of the Irish experience and perspective.

RTÉ Director-General Noel Curran says: “We are particularly delighted to premiere this special programme on our international digital platforms, both extending an invitation to the Irish abroad and profiling a wealth of Irish creative talent to an international audience. As Ireland’s public service multi-media organisation, RTÉ is committed to supporting and nurturing Irish culture and we hope that our international platforms will provide access for a global audience to join us this St Patrick’s Day.”