It was a special event and one that marked the historic twinning agreement between Ireland and Mexico last week.
On Wednesday, the Mexican delegation from Huixquilican together with members of the Longford twinning committee joined Deputy James Bannon in Dail Eireann and later met with President Michael D Higgins at Aras an Uachtaráin.
The Mexican ambassador to Ireland Carlos Garcia De Alba, who has been instrumental in bringing the twinning between Huixquilican and Longford to fruition, was also present to witness history in the making.
“Since President Higgins’ visit to our country in 2013, our bilateral relations have grown stronger and much more vibrant,” he told the 100 or so guests that were in attendance, including members of the San Patricio pipe band from Huixquilican who participated in the St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin the previous day.
“Today Mexico is Ireland’s seventeenth largest market for goods exported. In February, it was the 400th birthday of William Lambert, the Irish man from Wexford who died dreaming of independence for Ireland and Mexico.”
The ambassador then made reference to formalising the ‘sisterhood’ - the twinning agreement - which subsequently took place last Thursday at council headquarters in Longford town.
During the ceremony, Mr Garcia De Alba paid tribute to all those involved in the twinning and said he looked forward to what would be a ‘fruitful cooperation’ between Huixquilican and the county of Longford.
“We hope to see a delegation from Longford visiting Mexico soon; for me there is only one last thing to say; thank you for your hospitality; thank you for your support of this new contact between Ireland and Mexico.”
Back at Aras an Uachtaráin, the sun was splitting the stones and President Higgins and his wife Sabina joined the party out on the grounds as the San Patricio pipe band entertained the crowds.
The president’s two dogs were also in on the act and drew great attention from the crowd gathered.
“I had the great pleasure of listening to the pipe band before, during our official visit to Mexico,” said the President, adding he was delighted to receive them back at Aras an Uachtaráin.
“It is the first time ever that a Mexican band has taken part in our St Patrick’s Day parade and you have made history. We are very grateful for that.”
He went on to say that a wonderful opportunity had now presented itself to both countries to share their cultures - that of music and dance.
“This is a very special year because Ireland and Mexico are celebrating 40 years since the first time we opened official connections between both countries,” President Higgins continued.
“I value those connections and the bonds of friendship that connect our two peoples; this is a wonderful occasion and I wish you all well in your twinning.”
The official ceremony took place on Thursday when the council in Huixquilican, via Skype, joined in the celebrations.
“This is a wonderful day for Longford and for Huixquilican,” said Cathaoirleach Mark Casey.
“Today is about new beginnings, sowing seeds and reaching out after a long and difficult economic period for Ireland,” the Cathaoirleach added.
“We are positive and hopeful about the future and we hope this initial link with our sister city in Mexico will lead to stronger economic and cultural connections.”