TEN lucky Ennis children are among the chosen few to be invited to the inauguration of Michael D Higgins as Ireland’s ninth president in Dublin Castle this Friday.
The pupils of Ennis Educate Together National School will meet the new president, who grew up and went to school in County Clare, at the historic occasion after being specially invited to the event.
On their arrival in the capital, the 10 fifth and sixth class pupils will travel to Dublin Castle in a double-decker bus and they will even have a Garda escort to the ceremony. They will then see history being made as they watch the inauguration on a television link in the courtyard of Dublin Castle, before getting the chance to shake the hand of the new president.
School principal Sean Ó Confhaola said, “The children are absolutely thrilled to be going up to see Michael D Higgins become president. Last June, we invited him to one of our graduations but unfortunately he could not attend. Then on Monday we got the call at around five o’clock that 10 of our students were being invited to go to the inauguration. They are all so excited; one of the parents told me their child is up to high-doe all night with excitement. Of course, Michael D is no stranger to County Clare and he and his wife Sabine are very involved in Educate Together in Galway, which would be our sister school. We were told by the department that eight schools were invited to attend and that Michael D Higgins himself personally requested a number of schools so we are delighted that we were chosen.”
Mr Ó Confhaola continued, “We are honoured to be invited to this historic event and it will be a memory cherished by all. We were very careful in selecting a representative group of children who will attend the event. We have representatives from our Moroccan, Czech, Slovak and Polish community as well as Irish representatives and a representative of our Irish Traveller community.”
As well as the pupils, two teachers, Mr Ó Confhaola and a parent will also attend the ceremony. Between 250 and 300 members of the Defence Forces will be involved in various aspects of the ceremony. A motorcycle escort of honour will accompany Mr Higgins from his residence to Dublin Castle.
Once Mr Higgins receives his presidential seal of office, the presidential flag will be raised at both Áras an Uachtaráin and Dublin Castle and a 21-gun salute will sound at Collins Barracks. After the ceremony, Mr Higgins will be invited to inspect a 107-strong guard of honour. A ceremonial march-past will then be performed, accompanied by a flyby involving four Air Corps aircraft. Mr Higgins will then be escorted to the Áras by the escort of honour.
Meanwhile, the president elect is to be offered the Freedom of Ennis Town. At this week’s meeting of Ennis Town Council, Councillor Paul O’Shea proposed that Mr Higgins, who grew up in Newmarket-on-Fergus and went to St Flannan’s College, be afforded the freedom of the county town. Councillors extended their congratulations to Mr Higgin on his election and agreed that the honour of the Freedom of Ennis be bestowed on him.