Michael 'Bee' Higgins: President shows his soft side as he gives bumblebee a helping hand
President Michael D Higgins has been a busy man these last few days meeting with the Pope and even announcing free ice creams for all in Dun Laoghaire.
The 76-year-old joined the first wave of visitors to Ireland’s biggest flower and food festival, Bloom in the Park, which opened today in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.
The head of state was joined by wife Sabina as they toured the incredible gardens on show.
But with all the incredible sights on show Michael D was taken by one of the smallest displays - a tiny bumblebee.
Our photos show the President helping the tiny flying insect, much to the delight of wife Sabina.
One eye-witness said: "He came across this bee in one of the gardens and it was like he was trying to help it out of a tight spot.
"He wasn't afraid it would sting him at all. Sabina was loving it."
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The festival kicked off its 11th year with a showcase of 22 meticulously crafted show gardens, over 100 food and drink stalls and a morning of overcast, but thankfully dry weather.
Visiting each garden on display, President Higgins and his wife Sabina began their tour at the Our Lady’s Children's Hospital Crumlin Garden, which featured a grand piano nestled between brightly coloured flower displays.
They then paid a visit to each show garden, individually ranked in categories small, medium and large.
The winners in each category were revealed this morning, with a Connemara coastal garden scooping the top prize for best large garden.
Created by veteran Bloom duo Oliver and Liat Schurmann, the "FBD Insurance Transition" garden aims to capture the essence of the Irish coast, with a sophisticated water feature creating a stunning tidal effect.
The couple have been a fixture at Bloom since the festival’s inception in 2007 and have amassed seven awards.
Inspired by the “magical” Connemara coast, the “Transition” garden features a body of water, which alters depth on a regular basis to mimic tidal patterns. The water falls to reveal hidden islands in the glistening pool, then rises and obscures them once again, leaving tide marks on the jagged rocks surrounding the enclosure.
According to Mr Schurmann, marital teamwork is the secret to the couple’s stunning Bloom success.
He said: “We work very closely on them together. We throw out ideas, we bounce the ideas off each other and we shape it up to a super garden.
“And that’s the great handicap that we have, that we have each other and that we can do it.”
Standing in contrast to the seasoned Schurmann is Bríd Conroy, a first time Bloom competitor who took home a silver gilt medal for her fun design.
Showcasing a Despicable Me themed garden, Ms Conroy said she was “absolutely thrilled” to be awarded on her first year of entry.
Featuring cuddly minions and towering hedges resembling the film’s characters, Ms Conroy’s entry was a favourite of children in attendance.
The festival saw a large turnout on its first day, with the 70 acre site filling up fast as the morning wore on. An Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrived just after lunch, making his last public appearance as Fine Gael leader.
The festival will run for five days, stretching to the end of the Bank Holiday weekend. As well as horticultural displays, it will offer live music, art exhibitions and children’s shows.
Food almost pips foliage for a place at the heart of the festival, with more than 110 food and drink stalls scattered throughout the site.
Nevin Maguire took to the stage in the festival’s Food Village today to perform a live cookery demonstration, while Operation Transformation’s Donal O’Shea led discussions on food’s relationship with health.
Bloom provides a variety of dining options for visitors spending the day there, with everything from food trucks to gourmet dining on offer.
Tickets for the event range from €16- €22.50, while children under the age of 16 enter for free.