I had a pleasant surprise a few weeks ago when I opened a letter, expecting it to be a Wedding Invitation, only to find a letter from the President of Ireland inviting me to a Garden party on the 10th July 2010. I was both delighted & bewildered by such an important event. After that it was a mad shopping spree, ordering a new suit from designer Caroline Mitchell in Limerick with shoes & bag to match.
Later a visit to the Beauty Parlour for the whole works, including
hairdo, which I wore in an up style. Luckily my granddaughter is a make
up artist who can do wonders; she agreed to accompany us to Dublin.
On the Saturday it turned out a showery day but we got to the Phoenix
Park in a dry spell, where we were met by heavy security at a few
points, before we reached the buses that were waiting to transport us to
the front door of Aras an Uachtarin (The President’s House).
Then we were shown inside where tea, coffee & refreshments were served while we waited for the meeting with the President. The State Rooms were beautifully decorated in gold, blue & pink, The carpets were made in a little factory in Donegal, hand woven in intricate designs & we were told , used in all the stately homes. You can see them in the photographs.
In the entrance corridor all the busts of former Presidents are along one wall, then we entered the room where all dignitaries are received & where the first Irish Government met at the long polished table that stands in the middle of the floor. Above it is a magnificent crystal chandelier, presented to the Viceroy by Queen Victoria.
We were overawed by the pictures of former Presidents, the furniture, the floral decorations, the mirrors, the fireplaces, the tall windows & French doors leading onto the gardens & the history of the Aras itself.
|I should have gone to specsavers|
Then it was time to meet Mary Mc Aleese & her husband Dr. Martin Mc Aleese in the Reception Room. They both were very homely to talk to, she is far nicer in real life than on T.V.& her husband is the same, interested in the people they are meeting & wishing us a warm welcome
We then went to the big white & blue marquee in the grounds where we were met in the glass entrance hall by a row of staff holding trays of red & white wine alongside long tables covered with food & drink of all kinds. Needless to say, everyone was glad of a drink after the excitement.
There was a full programme of entertainment for two hours after we were fed & watered. The President & her husband joined us again at the concert & mingled with the guests until nearly 6.00p.m. t was an enjoyable and memorable day; one to hold as a memory.
A thought came to me in the State Room; how come a little girl from East Down View, Low Rd., Lisburn, is standing in the most important house in Ireland, meeting the two most important people in Ireland? I was remembering when she was picking herself up from a stony road & gingerly removing the sharp pebbles from out of her knees!.
It was an honour for me to meet the President & her husband and to be a guest in Aras an Uachtarin & to hear the history of that house. It is doubly significant as this is the last year of the President’s term, she retires next September, after 14 years as President of Ireland.