I have one memory of John Hume which, I think, says a lot about him..
It was back in the 90s sometime.
We were attending the annual award ceremony for the Press Photographers Association of Ireland (PPAI).
This particular year, the event was being held in the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham.
And John Hume was the guest of honour.
It was, of course, a noisy event. Dozens of journalists out for the night. People meeting up having not seen each other for a while. Great photographs to talk about. So there was lots of chatter and tinkling of glasses.
And neither of those noises abated when John Hume rose to speak.
He stood at the lectern and the chatter went on.
And then he spoke.
Did he try to drown out the noise? Did he speak loudly so that he could be heard?
He spoke in what was a little more than a whisper.
A couple of people made the “SHHH” sound.
And within seconds, the only sound that could be heard in the room was John’s voice.
He never raised it.
If you wanted to hear what he was saying you had to listen.
And everybody listened as he told us how the wounded from both sides of the Battle of the Boyne were brought to the very room we were in.
We hung on every word.
He managed to silence a room full of journalists not by banging on a glass with a spoon, not by ringing a bell, not by shouting.
But by speaking quietly and making us want to listen.
He was good at making people want to listen.
And thank God for that.
You did great things and deserve your rest.