'Ireland and Mexico share a long history' - President Higgins practices his Spanish as he welcomes tall ship crew to Dublin
PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins provided a warm welcome in Spanish this afternoon to the Mexican navy aboard one of the world's largest tall ships.
The 270-foot-long Cuauhtémoc ship, which sailed into Dublin this morning, is on a training voyage of northern Europe with Ireland being the second last stop.
Over 250 crew members stood by to welcome President Higgins on board, which will stay in Dublin for five days.
Speaking on its arrival today, the president said it was "not surprising" that the sea and ocean have played key roles in Irish and Mexican history as they are both key coastal destinations.
"Ireland and Mexico share a long history... and our key values brought us closer together," he said.
"I have always been struck by Mexico's warmth and vibrancy."
President Higgins also looked back on his previous trips to the country - including one from his college years.
"I travelled there in the spring of 1967, while I was a postgraduate student at Indiana University. While my fellow students were heading on spring break to Fort Lauderdale, I visited my friends in Mexico."
The ship, currently berthed at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay in Dublin, will be open to the public free of charge during its stay.
Commenting on the visit, The Ambassador of Mexico to Ireland, H.E. Miguel Malfavón said; “For over 40 years, Mexico has enjoyed excellent diplomatic relations with Ireland built on a shared sense of history and strengthening cultural, academic and trading ties in the present day.
"The arrival of the Cuauhtémoc reminds us of the affinity and friendship that exists between our two nations and symbolises the hand of friendship from Mexico to Ireland.
He added that it is the first visit to Ireland for many of the crew members, "marking a new generation of Mexican-Irish exchange".
Encouraging members of the public to visit over the weekend, Eamonn O’Reilly, Chief Executive at Dublin Port Company, described it as "an opportunity not to be missed".
"This is a spectacular vessel and one of the finest working tall ships at sea today," he said.
"I would encourage people in the city to take a trip down to Sir John Rogerson’s Quay to explore the Cuauhtémoc over the weekend and show her a warm Irish welcome during her stay."
Built in the Celaya shipyards in Bilbao, Spain, the Cuauhtémoc was launched in July 1982. It is their fifth visit to Ireland.