EVEN the best-laid plans can be disrupted by the Irish weather. Gusts of high wind, combined with rain, led to a few last-minute changes in the arrangements for the inauguration of Michael D Higgins at Dublin Castle on Friday.
Children from Ennis Educate Together were supposed to welcome President Higgins when he arrived in the courtyard but this had to be cancelled due the adverse weather conditions.
Having watched the inauguration ceremony in St Patrick’s Hall, via a video link in a neighbouring room, not even the high winds and torrential rain were going to prevent 10 of the pupils from Ennis Educate Together from giving the new President a rousing welcome once he had inspected the traditional guard of honour.
Covered in plastic macs, the children, who were just one of the eight primary schools in addition to seven secondary schools invited to the ceremony, rushed out to take their places behind a barrier.
At least five of them managed to get an outstretched hand to shake the hand of the diminutive president. Despite the atrocious weather conditions, President Higgins and his wife, Sabina really appreciated the warm glow of welcome from the enthusiastic children, who waved blue flags with the Government emblem with great intent.
Fifth and sixth class pupils were involved, representing the following communities: Irish speakers, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Moroccan and the Irish Traveller community.
English language teacher, Máire Ní Cheallaigh and her daughter, Treasa Ní Chatháin, who are living in Kilmaley, were thrilled to get the opportunity to meet the President.
They were joined by principal, Sean O’Confhaola and parent, Catherine O’Halloran, whose daughter, Isabel, was also present.
Ms Ceallaigh told The Clare Champion the new President said he would love to come down and visit the school during his trip to Ennis.
“The new President was very pleasant as he went along meeting children in the crowd. He was really nice. I was delighted to be part of a historic day. There is a fairly big staff and other teachers were interested in coming as well but I was lucky to be chosen,” she said.
“Having my daughter here today made it extra special and that’s probably why some of the other teachers stepped aside to let me go. I was lucky to get a chance to go,” she added.
Treasa admitted she was really excited to shake the hand of the President and confirmed it was something she would remember for the rest of her days. “It was really exciting. It was really good. I will always remember this day. It was really good that my mother could come as well,” she said.
Orrin Moore, Ennis, described his handshake with the president as “brief but cool”.
“I was delighted to get that opportunity, a lot of people didn’t get a chance to shake his hand. The bus journey to Dublin was also fun,” he said.
Debbie McDonagh, Ennis, also shook the President’s hand. “It was really exciting to shake the president’s hand. I didn’t expect that coming here today. We didn’t mind the rain as long as we could see the President and all the soldiers, which was great.”
Akila Khoudiri, Ennis, said it was a great honour to shake hands with the President.
“I really enjoyed shaking hands with the President. I didn’t mind the rain,” she said.
Isabel O’Halloran-Dooley, Ennis, also said shaking the President’s hand was a very special moment for her. “It is something I will always remember. I enjoyed looking around Dublin Castle. I thought it was quite pretty and big. I think Michael D will make a very good president because he is interested in education.”
Dominik Oberlan, Ennis, predicted Michael D would prove to be a very good president.
The children finished their day with a trip to the Dáil chamber, courtesy of Labour Deputy, Michael McNamara.