Taoiseach Launches Patrick Hillery Biography by Trinity College Historian

Posted on: 18 December 2008

A new biography of Dr Patrick Hillery written by Trinity College historian, Dr John Walsh, was launched by the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, on Wednesday December 17th last. The book, entitled Patrick Hillery: the official biography, is the first study of Hillery’s career and the only biographical work to enjoy the full co-operation of the former President.

Dr Walsh’s book considers Hillery’s influence on significant turning points in contemporary Irish history, including the arms crisis and Ireland ‘s accession to the European Communities. Hillery’s recollections of the most controversial events of his career, notably the rumours surrounding the presidency during the Papal visit in 1979 and attempts by Charles Haughey to draw the presidency into party politics in the early 1980s, are analysed for the first time. Dr Walsh also explores less well-known aspects of Hillery’s career, including his influence on the transformation of the Irish educational sector and the turbulence surrounding his term as Minister for Labour.

Dr Walsh’s study is a comprehensive and balanced portrayal of Patrick Hillary, who made an extraordinary contribution, in a remarkably understated fashion, to the evolution of contemporary Ireland . The biography benefits from a series of interviews with Hillery and full access to his private papers. The book also received support from the Trinity College Dublin Association and Trust and the Provost’s Academic Development Fund.

Dr John Walsh is a postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Centre for Contemporary Irish History at Trinity College . The Hillery Biography is published by New Island Books. Dr Walsh’s work on the history of Irish education, The Politics of Expansion: Irish educational policy 1957-72, will be published by Manchester University Press in 2009.

Patrick hillery: the official biography