Valentia visits Áras an Uachtaráin
Last Tuesday President Higgins and his wife Sabina hosted a garden party in Áras an Uachtaráin to welcome and entertain groups representing Ireland's 24 islands.
Valentia Island was well represented with a party of 23 departing from the island in Goggin's coach of Ballinskelligs at approximately 7.15am. The journey was sponsored by the Valentia Island Development Company.
The coach, driven by John Goggin, stopped for refreshments in Newcastlewest and also Junction 14.
On a God-given day in which Dublin and the country in general basked in resplendent sunshine, the touring party arrived at the Áras at approximately 1.30pm. After prior registration being completed by each visitor, those of the Valentia group, in company with the various groups represented, were first courteously ushered into the Áras Drawing Room by Sabina Higgins and Áras staff, an entrance pleasantly facilitated by music from a lone harpist.
Having viewed the magnificent and wonderful time honoured architecture, furniture, general art and busts of Presidents of times past, the various island visitors were ushered into the open air and pleasantly escorted by staff through the Áras gardens. This incorporated the Queen's Walk and a walk and view of the walled garden and main lawn. The gardens are resplendent in colour, exotic and magnificent and certainly a walk through them is a panacea for the stresses and strains of this world.
They also contain ancient and young trees planted by various Presidents and visiting dignitaries. Three young oak trees stand side by side. Former President Mary McAleese is in exalted company here - the tree in the middle is attributed to her with those on either side attributed to Queen Elizabeth and Barack Obama.
The whole garden walk, complimented by brilliant sunshine, took place in a very relaxed atmosphere, enhanced by the carefree and friendly demeanour of President Higgins, who mingled and chatted with his various island visitors.
While on such a walk we bumped into John Keating and his wife Geraldine who represented the Aran Islands and live in Inis Mór. John is originally of the Corner House Bar in Cahirsiveen. He spent a number of years in London working for John Murphy and Sons. He extended his greetings to all in Cahirsiveen and Iveragh.
We then made our way towards the huge marquee, and prior to entering were treated to garden apple juice. While enjoying this, we listened to a large Dublin ukulele band group.
The President's wife, Sabina, made for a wonderful spectacle as she danced to their music and invited her visitors to join her. A number of the Valentia party also duly obliged, in engaging in pelvic gyrations with her to the joy of onlookers.
Next on the agenda was a sit down occasion with sumptuous refreshments in the huge marquee area where all the island visitors were seated and treated. During the meal much and varied musical entertainment was provided by individuals and groups. President Higgins, in an eloquent speech, welcomed all guests. He left those present in no doubt as to his attitude to island life. He stated that all aspects of such living must be embraced and that islanders should get economic, cultural and social support.
Vincent Kidd of the Royal Hotel, whose family of the EV Kidd firm of Dublin performed much renovation work at the Áras, was invited to dine beside Sabina Higgins. Vincent, on behalf of the Valentia Island Development Company, presented President Higgins with a piece of cable mounted on Valentia Slate.
The evening's menu at the Áras Marquee consisted of:
Sandwiches - Chicken with Pine Nuts. Ham with Mustard Mayonnaise, Egg and Chive.Tomato, Pesto and Mozzarella
Savoury - Smoked Salmon with Herb Butter on Tomato Bread. Prawns in Savoury Tartlets with Rose Sauce. Sun-Kissed Tomatoes, Olive and Pesto Tartlets.
Sweet - Scones with Jam and Cream and Raspberries. Chocolate and Mint Petits Fours. Spiced Fruit Cake. Lemon Drizzle Cake. Ginger Bread. Shortbread, Chocolate Elairs.
Selection of Fruit. Strawberries dipped in white and plain chocolate. Chocolates.
Tea and Coffee. Garden Apple Juice. Red and White Wine.
The entourage departed at 6pm with one stop was made for refreshments at the Barack Obama Centre on way back.
The following are those who travelled and are associated with the various voluntary Valentia committees: Children's Playground: Mary Lynch- Coffey/Emma Tracey; Community Hospital: Máire Stewart/Mary Casey; GAA: Deirdre Lyne and Eileen O'Sullivan; Valentia Heritage: Liam Lynch; Lifeboat:Timothy Lyne/Pat Lyne; Parish Council: Mary Linnane/Dan O'Connor; School Board:Loretta Lynch/Jane Norman; Tidy Towns: Michael Egan,Bridie Egan, Margaret Curran and Bridie Falvey; Valentia Island Development Company: Vincent Kidd and Deborah O'Connor; Active Retirement Group: Una O'Connell.