IT'S only right that you'd dig out your best frock if you were invited to meet the President -- but these little girls went one step further when they visited the Aras yesterday.
The troupe of colourfully-clad kids were decked out in everything from silk saris to Korean hanboks to African robes as they waited shyly to be introduced to Mary McAleese.
The children -- the sons and daughters of the 78 foreign diplomats invited to the President's New Year reception-- were all wearing their national dress and it made for a multicoloured multicultural tableau at Aras an Uachatarain.
Mrs McAleese herself looked exceptionally stylish in a long orange coat with a string of pearls at her neck and she, her husband Dr Martin McAleese and European Affairs Minister Dick Roche greeted each representative and their families as they filtered through the plush surroundings as a harpist played nearby.
Korean councillor Mr Yongsoo Lee's youngest daughter Jinu Lee (4) was almost eclipsed by the size of her dress and looked shy but glowing in voluminous layers of yellow, pink and green.
The six-year-old twin girls of Mexican diplomat, Dr Alicia Kerber Palma, were also dressed in national costume -- one in pristine white lace and the other in a striking red dress with multicoloured ribboned stripes.
The meet-and-greet took over 40 minutes but the smile never faded from Mrs McAleese's lips. Each greeting was as enthusiastic as the one before as she chatted to the diplomatic families about their countries.
Irish dancers and foot stomping bodhran-beating musicians amused the guests as they milled around eating canapes. The youngest daughter of the Turkish ambassador was especially enthralled by the two Irish dancers and stood clutching her toy bunny rabbit looking on in awe as Sean O'Brien and Shereen Dolan gave an energetic performance.
Peace, prosperity and an end to the recession were the hopes for Ireland's future that many of the diplomats expressed.
The Indian ambassador, Mr PS Raghavan, said that he viewed the economy here with optimism.
"Here on the ground I can see that the economy is pretty vibrant and I can see a lot of good things happening for Ireland in the future."
Mrs McAleese echoed his sentiments in her speech.
"The future of Ireland's economic narrative is considerably more positive than much of the contemporary discussion around banks and bailouts might suggest.
"Take a look around Ireland today and you will find a sophisticated network of community endeavour driven by the sheer spirit of volunteers that is second to none," she said.