IT was the moment he will savour for the rest of his life. A proud Michael D Higgins was today sworn in as Ireland's ninth President.
Dressed in a dark suit and silver tie, the Galway poet took centre stage for what was the biggest day of his life.
In a fitting tribute, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Mr Higgins holds the country's “hearts, hopes and dreams”.
He hailed the new President as a “a noble man of quiet virtue”.
“His authenticity as poet, philosopher, patriot and politician, as a democrat, republican, husband and father will resonate across this country and around the world,” he said.
“And as he takes office, he holds not just our hearts, but our hopes and our dreams.”
Accompanied by his wife |Sabina, Mr Higgins delivered an emotional 12-minute inauguration speech in the packed Dublin Castle chamber.
His four children – Michael Jnr, Alice Mary, John and Daniel – were brimming with pride as they watched Chief Justice Mrs Susan Denham hand the President his seal of office. Some 350 children from 15 schools – including Stewarts Hospital Special School in South Dublin – were given pride of place among 3,000 well-wishers. Almost the entire Cabinet made their way along the red carpet into Dublin Castle.
And those who truly experienced the mudslinging of the campaign – the other six presidential hopefuls – turned out to support Mr Higgins.
The man who came second to Mr Higgins, Sean Gallagher, watched on with his wife Trish. He must have been thinking that today could have been his day – if it were not for that dramatic moment on RTE's Frontline when his hopes were shattered.
Former president Mary McAleese looked on with pride as her 14-year term came to an end.
Representatives from a range of religions were invited by Enda Kenny to give their blessing |to the occasion after an opening prayer by Archbishop Dr |Diarmuid Martin.
Afterwards the new President hosted a plush lunch for a number of invited guests.
The delighted couple were due to return to Dublin Castle this evening where they are guests of honour at a state reception.