IT WAS the event where his presidential plans were first alluded to and two years later the triumphant candidate returned much to the delight of his literary pals.
President Michael D Higgins opened the Cuirt International Festival of Literature in the Hotel Meyrick in Galway with some of the country's literary giants gathered for the event.
Encouraging those present to see as much of the festival as possible, President Higgins said the next few days in Galway would allow them to "immerse yourself in the marvellous".
Praising the mix of old and new artists, President Higgins said: "The programme is all the richer for being a mix of long experienced artists and those newer to their craft. I wish all of the artists a rewarding, renewing and enjoyable experience."
Among the artists taking part are Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, author Edna O'Brien and Swedish crime novelist Arne Dahl. Kate Walshe, a special effects expert who has produced effects for Lady Gaga, Iron Maiden and 'Doctor Who' will also give a workshop.
President Higgins, who has had several pieces of his own work included in the festival over the years, officially opened the event last night and later attended a poetry reading by Heaney and Michael Longley at the Town Hall Theatre.
The Cuirt International Festival of Literature has been running since 1986 in Galway city. The festival was originally dedicated to poetry but has included fiction in its remit since 1994.
• PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins is hiring a new speechwriter to help him craft his message. It comes after Mr Higgins's recent speeches criticising austerity, and his promise that he will speak out more during his presidency.
The position – which comes with a €62,000 salary – is being advertised to fill an existing role, and the contract will be for three years.
A spokesperson for the President said the "required sanction" for filling the post had been obtained from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
Although Mr Higgins is renowned for crafting his own speeches, the successful candidate will be responsible for preparing draft speeches, as well as letters, greetings and condolences.
The successful candidate should also have a record of achievement in their career and a capacity for "creative thinking" as well as "having close regard to the President's themes and priorities for his presidency".
And the candidate is expected to have "a deep understanding of culture, art, history, economy and society and current affairs".