A letter to Bob Dylan from the President of Ireland

May 24, 2021 • 2:00 pm

As I’ve tweeted and also indicated in today’s Hili Dialogue, Bob Dylan turns 80 today.  Reader Joe McClain called my attention to a letter that the President of Ireland wrote Dylan in honor of the occasion. It speaks for itself, though I didn’t know that the Irish President was a poet. Here it is (click to enlarge):


17 thoughts on “A letter to Bob Dylan from the President of Ireland

  1. MiggleDee, as he’s affectionately known, is a poet of many decades and middling success – though extraordinarily eloquent in his speeches. That aside, he has long been a champion of the arts, of the underdog, of dialogue and fraternity – he’s held in high esteem and swept unopposed to a second term as President (a largely ceremonial role here in Ireland). A genuinely nice man.

  2. When we were living in Galway in 2014, we used to see Michael D. walking around town occasionally. (President is more of a ceremonial post than the taoiseach (prime minister)). Good to see that he’s a fan of Bob.

  3. “… Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
    For the times they are a-changin’ “

    I heard Rick Beato talk about this song recently, and that lyric gave me goosebumps like it never had before. I think it is because of the ideas expressed in modern popular music lyrics.

    Hearing that lyric makes it clear to me that Dylan was calling to everyone to look within themselves and marshall their resources or they might not make it, because there were forces beyond their control – be strong and brave. Look out at the wide, dangerous expanse, and take it on by your wits alone, and THAT is how you discover what life is.

    I just never hear such ideas in modern pop lyrics, even if I ignore WAP and other sensational shock stuff. At best, the lyrics are contrived.

    1. So many of Dylan’s lyrics are about escaping entropy. Your quote is a case in point. His 5th release, “Bringing it All Back Home” encompasses (for me) Dylan’s kernel; it’s a bridge between all his work and I’ll never tire of it.

      1. I should add that the lyric is one thing – but hearing him sing it out on that recording adds a layer of expression that makes the song alive.

  4. Excellent tribute to Bob Dylan. The Irish have a warm heart for poets. Can you think of an American politician writing such a thoughtful tribute? Thanks for posting.

    1. I can think of Obama writing a thoughtful tribute like this…esp. imagining Obama at 80. But that’s about it. I was impressed by the letter. I hope it warmed Dylan’s heart as it did mine.

        1. As far back as when he was Georgia’s governor, Jimmy Carter had Bob over as a guest at the governor’s mansion. He also said at the time, in his famous 1974 “Law Day” speech at the University of Georgia Law School, that, along with Reinhold Niebuhr,

          [t]he other source of my understanding about what’s right and wrong in this society is from a friend of mine, a poet named Bob Dylan. Listening to his records about ‘The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll’ and ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ and The Times They Are A-Changin’,’ I’ve learned to appreciate the dynamism of change in a modern society.

          (quoted at length in Hunter Thompson’s one-shot, longform Rolling Stone piece, “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’76: Third-Rate Romance, Low-Rent Rendezvous”).

          1. Yeah, the Amazing Rhythm Aces’ original was still getting airplay in ’76 when Hunter wrote that piece.

            I think it’s the good Doctor’s best one-off political piece (as opposed to the fortnightly writing he did for RS that got lashed together in the book Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72). In it, HST announced he would be voting for Carter (though not without a certain trepidation). The piece was originally entitled “An Endorsement with Fear & Loathing,” but Hunter made Jann Wenner change it because he didn’t think a journalist — even a subjective, outlaw journalist such as himself — had any business “endorsing” political candidates.

            It’s long and it’s rambling (including a discursion on “the meaning of breakfast” and why the need for that meal prevented him from covering the ’76 campaign with the same day-to-day intensity as in ’72), but it’s funny as hell and has some great writing and analysis.

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