Wednesday 28 September 2016

After a hectic day of events and handshakes, the VIPs have dinner

Published 28/03/2016 | 02:30

Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny chats to President Michael D. Higgins at the Easter Sunday Commemoration Ceremony and Parade. Photo: Maxwells
Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny chats to President Michael D. Higgins at the Easter Sunday Commemoration Ceremony and Parade. Photo: Maxwells

An exhaustive schedule for dignitaries and the major players in the commemorations was rounded off with a State Dinner in Dublin Castle last night.

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President Michael D Higgins was greeted by the Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny as he arrived at the dinner. The pair were then joined by a number of distinguished guests and acting ministers.

It brought a long schedule of events to a close for the dignitaries and their staff, many of whom had been readying themselves for the events before 6am yesterday morning.

There was no let-up for either Mr Kenny or for President Higgins as their motorcades shuttled them to and from numerous events and parades across the capital.

Mr Higgins was afforded a 10-minute window for a 'comfort break' and pulled in an extra few minutes of downtime after arriving at a commemorative concert at Collins Barracks a few minutes early.

But as the Acting Taoiseach and President greeted each other for a final time last night they looked weary.

"How many times have they shook hands with each other today?" quipped one bystander.

Guests were welcomed into the courtyard by the Band 2 Brigade from Athlone, Co. Westmeath, as actors in 1916 period dress wandered the courtyard outside.

Sliabh na mBan, an armoured car that formed part of Michael Collins's convoy on the day that he was killed, was positioned ominously in a corner of the courtyard and proved popular among the younger members attending.

Among those present at the State dinner last night were Ireland football manager Martin O'Neill, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin also attended with a host of acting ministers, including Minister for the OPW Simon Harris, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton and Environment Minister Alan Kelly.

The President visited a new OPW exhibition entitled 'In the Shadow of the Castle' housed in the former State Bedrooms.

The guests were separated into a number of groups. Those in George's Hall were treated to a half-hour photography screening curated by the Gallery of Photography Ireland.

More music was provided by a line-up of Irish musicians, including The Young Folk, singer-songwriter Róisín O, The Three Tenors Ireland, John Sheahan and Declan O'Rourke.

Performances were also put on by actors and musicians from the Gaiety School of Acting and the Royal Irish Academy of Music.

Irish Independent

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