The Role of the President

The Award programme was established in 1985, International Youth Year, and  launched in Áras an Uachtaráin by the President, Dr. Patrick J. Hillery who was the Award’s founding patron.


Gaisce – The President’s Award was established by trust deed under the patronage of the President of Ireland in 1985, UN International Youth Year.

The Award programme was launched in Áras an Uachtaráin by then President, Dr. Patrick J. Hillery, who was the Award’s founding patron. Presidents Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese were each patrons of the Award programme during their term of office and Gaisce is delighted that the Awards are now presented in the name of President Michael D. Higgins and, at Gold level, by the President himself.

President Michael D. Higgins

In setting out his vision for presidency and since becoming Uachtaráin na hEireann, Michael D. Higgins has emphasised the centrality of young people to the future of Ireland and the importance of drawing on their creativity, imagination and decency in shaping, transforming and renewing Ireland.

President Higgins has consistently referenced his desire to build an inclusive and active citizenship and, through initiatives such as Ethics and Young and Irish, how that might meaningfully be achieved so that individuals can be ‘the arrow, not the target’. It is precisely these values and these outcomes for young people that the Gaisce Award programme embodies and seeks to promote. In addition to signing all Gaisce certificates, President Higgins presents awards at Gold level, generously giving time to meet with awardees, to hear about their experiences and encourage them to continue contributing to society as active citizens. Gaisce retains regular contact with the President and his Office, updating them on progress towards achieving the strategic priorities of providing an innovative and challenging awards programme that is accessible to all young people in Ireland, especially those that could most benefit from it.


Watch a message from President Michael D. Higgins to Gaisce participants here

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