Kate's still in awe after Aras visit
I mentioned here last week how a local woman's gifted hands and mind led to her being invited to Aras an Uachtarain to hand over a gift she had fashioned for President Higgins.
The visit left her and her fellow invitees in awe and, from an artist's perspective, she was in heaven - as you'll understand from her account.
Kate Shanahan found herself unemployed a couple of years ago and she saw this as an opportunity to further her education and interest in art.
An admiration for President Higgins's interest in all aspects of the arts in Ireland inspired her to create a pair of bookends from white, Italian marble for him.
When he heard of the gift that awaited collection or delivery in Castleisland, President Higgins issued an invitation to Kate and others to visit 'The Aras' and they did so on Monday week, July 8.
"I went up to the Aras last Monday in order to present President Michael D. Higgins with marble book ends I had created especially for him.
I think the Aras exceeded all our expectations; beautifully kept lawns, the interior was breath-taking and I even got to touch the painting of Lady Lavery painted by her husband John Lavery," said Kate.
"We met the President and his wife Sabina and they were incredibly nice and welcoming. The President told me that the heron I had hand carved onto one of the bookends is from the first book of poetry he had released.
We then went out to the gardens and met with the other people who had been invited to the Aras and to our amazement saw that we had been invited to a garden party. A huge marquee had been set up and inside we were entertained by Mary Coughlan, The Walls, Keywest, Dolmen String Quartet and the Tulla Ceili band. Food and drink were offered throughout," she added.
Kate, an avid animal lover, was anxious to see the Aras dogs before she left:
"I asked Sabina about the dogs and she gladly brought them out for me. Shadow and Brogue are two huge Bernese Mountain Dogs. President Higgins and Sabina mingled throughout the garden party with everyone and the staff were the friendliest we had ever come across. But, as with all things, the day had to end but our hearts were beaming with pride having had the honour of being present at such an event," a delighted Kate concluded.