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Sunday 19 November 2017

Glamorous reception marks end of a day to remember

The reception

Fiach Kelly and Edel O'Connell

THE heavy rain that fell relentlessly all day cleared just in time for the arrival of the newly inaugurated ninth President of Ireland at a state reception held in his honour at Dublin Castle last night.

President Higgins and his wife Sabina were escorted to the glamorous reception by a cavalry motorcycle escort of honour from 2 Cavalry Squadron in Cathal Brugha barracks, Rathmines.

Yesterday's escort was the Captain's Escort of Honour, and was made up of 29 personnel of all ranks, including three officers and 26 enlisted ranks. More than 850 of 1,700-plus invitees made their way across the cobblestones of Dublin Castle last night to attend the historic reception.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was among the first of the guests to arrive.

Mr Kenny said he believed Mr Higgins would bring his own stamp to a presidential role, which had been carried out so "remarkably" by Mary McAleese for the past 14 years.

Three busloads of members of the Diplomatic Corps followed the Taoiseach's arrival.

Distinguished

Also among the distinguished guests were former SDLP leader John Hume, Attorney General Maire Whelan, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, the Right Hon Justice Nicholas Kearns, Dr Maeve Hillery, Micheal Martin TD, Health Minister James Reilly and Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

The British and American ambassadors, Julian King and Dan Rooney, were also present.

Sharon Shannon and her band, long-term supporters of Mr Higgins, provided music at the evening reception, as did an octet from the Young European Strings in Naas.

Mr Higgins secured the first grants to enable these young musicians to purchase their instruments.

Harpist Siobhan Armstrong also played at the presidential reception in St Patrick's Hall in Dublin Castle.

For sports fans, the Ireland versus Estonia European Championships play-off was shown on a number of television screens at the reception -- although the sound was muted.

Mr Higgins and his wife were greeted by 350 children from 15 different schools across the country after the inauguration ceremony in the castle.

Irish Independent

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