Reclaiming the European Street

Speeches on Europe and the European Union, 2016-20

By: President Michael D. Higgins

Edited by: Fergal Lenehan , Joachim Fischer

Publication Date: 8 April 2021


Reclaiming the European Street: Speeches on Europe and the European Union by Michael D. Higgins, edited by Fergal Lenehan and Joachim Fischer


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‘From Covid-19 we have been reminded, through tragedy and suffering, that we have a shared, globalized vulnerability common to all humanity … The lessons of necessity and solidarity learned during the pandemic must now inform a European-led transition to a just and ecologically sustainable society in its aftermath.’

President Michael D. Higgins is one of the few public intellectuals to engage regularly with the abstract idea of an alternative European space, and to consistently reimagine it. Yet public discussions regarding Ireland’s closer links with the European Union often remain purely utilitarian and economic, or take place only within academia. Here, in Reclaiming the European Street, in over twenty lively discourses, President Higgins lays out his vision for Europe.

This is the first gathering of all the President’s Europe-themed speeches from 2016 to 2020. They deal with wide-ranging contemporary issues, from the 1916 Centenary celebrations to the Brexit decision of June 2016 and the Covid-19 pandemic: the latter, in particular, has shunted the European Union into a worldwide arena through its role in helping Member States cope with economic and human fallout.

As well as translations into Irish, French and German, a comprehensive introduction by the editors gives context to the speeches within wider Irish and European intellectual history. Stamped by President Higgins’ inimitable intellectual rigour and empathy, these documents also express fundamental concerns on behalf of the Irish people. His generous pluralist view of history and embracing of a liberal secular society make this volume essential reading for any citizen seeking to understand the role of Ireland within the European Union.


President Michael D. Higgins was elected the ninth President of Ireland in 2011. He was re-elected in 2018, securing the largest number of votes in Irish presidential election history. President Higgins is both an academic and a poet, as well as a public representative who has served at every level of public life in Ireland, including as a member of Dáil Éireann for twenty-five years and of Seanad Éireann for nine. He has campaigned worldwide for human rights, inclusive citizenship and climate sustainability. His previous books include When Ideas Matter: Speeches for an Ethical Republic (2016), Renewing the Republic (2012) and Causes of Concern (2007) and numerous other publications. 


Professor Joachim Fischer (MA Mainz, PhD TCD), Jean Monnet Professor of European Cultural Studies at the University of Limerick, has been a driving force in European Studies across three decades. NIHE Limerick was set up in 1972 and UL has remained a major centre for European Studies in Ireland. Professor Fischer is Course Director of its undergraduate programme in European Studies, which is among the longest-established such programmes in the world.

Dr Fergal Lenehan (BA and MA UCD, PhD Leipzig, Habilitation Jena) is based at the University of Jena, Germany, where he is a full-time researcher at the project ‘ReDICo: Researching Digital Interculturality Co-operatively’, which is financed by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research. His comparative study of intellectual discourses on Europe in Ireland, Britain and Germany, Intellectuals and Europe (Trier 2014), is a key contribution to this under-researched field.

Portrait by Mick O’Dea


2 reviews for Reclaiming the European Street

  1. Lilliput Press

    Michael D. Higgins writes brilliantly about the idea of “home” in an age of mass-migration, when even children of the middle class can scarcely afford to purchase a house. But, above all, he implies that Anderson’s critique be answered – by a Europe which, no longer constructed from above, is rebuilt from below. From the street itself.

    – Declan Kiberd, Hot Press

  2. Lilliput Press

    The book seems to be an extraordinary kaleidoscope of ideas enmeshed in a dazzling torrent of words that could threaten to drown the reader. However as the book progresses, so does the understanding of the reader and an understanding of what the European Union can offer us, in theory at least, emerges.

    – Des Kenny, Galway Advertiser

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Weight 0.6 kg
Dimensions 156 × 234 mm
Publication Date

8 April 2021



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