Symbol Of The New Ireland: MARY ROBINSON

President Mary Robinson has recharged the spirit of her fractious nation and helped make it part of a modern Europe

When Mary Robinson was a young girl just out of convent school, her family sent her off to Paris for a year of finishing school. It was there, as an impressionable 17-year-old, that she came to an important realization about her native Ireland. Its historic insularity did not serve to protect its culture, but instead helped keep it in the shadow of the English. "A country like France had such a sense of itself that it could never be diluted," she recalls. "You don't homogenize a culture, you enrich it by diversity of contacts." Only by becoming fully a part of...

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