Commencement Quotes

By Irish America Staff
August / September 2000

Highlights of 2000’s commencement speeches, made by Irish America’s best and brightest.


Seamus Heaney at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

“You stand at a boundary. Behind you is your natural habitat, as it were, the ground of your creaturely being, the old haunts where you were nurtured; in front of you is a less knowable prospect of invitation and challenge, the testing ground of your possibilities. You stand between whatever binds you to your past and whatever might be unbounded in your future.”


George Mitchell at Washington & Jefferson College, Washington, P.A.

“John Gardner put it best when he wrote: ‘An excellent plumber is infinitely more admirable than an incompetent philosopher. The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”‘


Andy Rooney at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville

“We need more doctors and fewer medical programs. We need more mechanics and fewer car salesmen. We need more good television programs and fewer commercials.

“Someone has to make something. I mean, who’s going to rebuild those 250 houses that burned down last week in Los Alamos? An interactive communications network? A virtual meeting? I don’t think so. It’s going to take carpenters, plumbers and electricians.

“Don’t rule out working with your hands. It does not preclude using your head. There’s no reason why education should be incompatible with craftsmanship.” ♦

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