I was honored and grateful to do makeup for 5 days for First Lady of Ireland, Sabina Higgins’ visit to Chicago with President Michael Higgins in May of 2014.
First Lady of Ireland grew up on a small farm near Ballindine, County Mayo. Her mother would tell stories from Charles Dickens while milking the cows, an influence on her later decision to take up acting, in which she trained using Stanislavski’s system. She was a bridesmaid at the wedding of singer Luke Kelly to Deirdre O’Connell, who trained her in this.
She met Higgins in 1969 at a party in the family home of journalist Mary Kenny. Higgins proposed over Christmas 1973 and they were married the year after. They have four children: Alice Mary, twins John and Michael Jr., and Daniel. When the twins were born Coyne was photographed by the press wearing a nightdress in her hospital bed.
Friends have spoken of her affection for the President and noted that she “has always been out campaigning with him, and she has a public presence.” The Irish Times said she was “a subtle, careful and essential background presence during the presidential campaign”. In 2010, before Higgins received the presidential nomination, the couple gave a radio interview together in which Higgins said Coyne was “his rock”. Presenter Miriam O’Callaghan said they had held hands all the way through.
First Lady of Ireland publicly expressed opposition to the Iraq War In January 2014, she famously visited the jailed anti-war activist Margaretta D’Arcy in Limerick Prison. This resulted in her husband being questioned as to the appropriateness of his wife’s conduct. Other politicians also commented on the incident.
During the Centenary of the Easter Rising, she gave a key speech in Glasnevin Cemetery at the graveside of Constance Markievicz. In it she warned Irish people against “empires of greed” and “a new form of capitalism [which is] even more powerful and less visible and less accountable” than that of 1916.
She also has views on abortion and fatal-foetal abnormalities. At a 2016 event organised by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland in Trinity College, she made reference to ‘the whole thing of the choice in abortion and health’ and said that cases where the ‘person or persons’ were ‘made carry’ were ‘really outrages against women and outrages against the world and nature.