IT may be over a dozen years since Bill Clinton left the White House, but the glitter of stardust still surrounds the former American president, especially when he sets foot on Irish soil.
He has been in and out of the country quite a bit in recent years, but it was evident from his reception at the Conrad Hotel last night that the welcome mat is in no danger of wearing thin any time soon.
He flew into Dublin yesterday afternoon and as usual with Bustling Bill, he had a full schedule ahead of him. His first stop was UCD to talk to a group of students, then he headed for Government Buildings for a meeting with the Taoiseach.
Bill still travels in style.
Such was the size of the vehicle with blacked-out windows which pulled up at the steps of Government Buildings, that the waiting Taoiseach failed to spot the distinctive white head of his guest emerge from the far side of the massive car.
"The other side, Taoiseach," hissed Enda's press secretary, sprinting around the hulking motor to alert his unsuspecting boss that Bill Clinton was, in true Dublin panto fashion, right behind him.
In contrast, a few hours later he entered the ballroom of the Conrad Hotel to a standing ovation from the 250 invited guests attending the Philanthropy Ireland event.
He was to deliver the keynote annual Ray Murphy Memorial lecture, as philanthropy is a subject close to his heart. He took to the stage looking fit, trim and relaxed, broad smile at the ready.
This was a speech with no airs or graces. As usual with this master communicator, he spoke directly to the roomful of business people, politicians and academics, laying out a compelling case for getting involved in philanthropic causes.
"I hope to God you will never have to live through another financial crisis like this, but if you did have one even less severe you wouldn't want people starving in the street or going without basic medical care or mental health services or support for their children," he said.
"This is a good and noble thing to do. It is in the Irish tradition and you can do something that I would really appreciate. You can organise and execute it in a way that would enable other people to learn from you, and that's also really important."
This particular president of America has always exuded positivity about Ireland from his earliest engagements with the peace process in the North to more recent words of encouragement when the country was reeling from the economic meltdown and consigned to the naughty step of the EU.
And last night was no different. First he paid a warm tribute to the past generosity of the Irish Government. He revealed how his foundation had also struggled to raise vital funds needed to treat HIV in Africa.
"The first country that offered to give me money for setting this was Ireland. You should be really proud of that."
He also lavished praise on the work of our peacekeeping forces.
"Ireland is the only country in the world since the UN was created that has had somebody in some other country trying to keep innocent people alive every single solitary day since the UN was formed," he declared.
However, he sounded a warning over the perils of failure to tackle global warming, and how it could have a devastating effect on Ireland as an island nation, both environmentally and economically.
"When you're rolling again with the economy and when you've got the unemployment rate down, the last thing you want to do is lose another year or two because of a natural disaster," he said.
Guests were asked to pledge their support for the 'One Percent Difference' campaign which encourages individuals and both small and big businesses to donate 1pc of their time or income to a cause or project of their choice.
"I think this one percent thing is a great idea because it can raise a lot of money and it democratise even further because every body and if you don't have any money you can give one per cent of your time and make a contribution," he told the attentive room.
Among the guests at the event in the Conrad Hotel were Health Minister James Reilly, Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald, Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, businessman Denis O'Brien, hotelier and chairman of the American Ireland Fund John Fitzpatrick, Independent News & Media chief executive Vincent Crowley, and Stephen Rae, Independent News & Media Editor-in-chief.
At the end of his 20-minute speech, Bill Clinton acknowledged the applause with a smile, and stood quietly onstage as Frank Flannery, Chairman of the government-backed Forum on Philanthropy, described him as "one of the world's greatest teachers". A final wide smile, a flurry of handshakes and Mr Clinton exited the room.
Later today he arrives in London for another Foundation event with Hilary and Chelsea.
He may have left before dinner, but – consummate teacher that he is – he left plenty of food for thought behind him.
By Lise Hand