Excitement builds ahead of President’s visit to Ardagh

Philip Butler with President Michael D Higgins on his visit to Abbeyshrule last year.  Photo by Shelley Corcoran

Philip Butler with President Michael D Higgins on his visit to Abbeyshrule last year. Photo by Shelley Corcoran

  • by Rachel Masterson

President Michael D Higgins will visit Ardagh Heritage and Creativity Centre on Friday, March 14 to plant a tree and tour the facility.

“We’re up to ninety with excitement, and the village is all excited as well” says Ann Smyth, co-owner of Creative Ardagh alongside Annette Corkery. “It is a boost of energy to the whole area.”

“The story is, we saw all these trees in the garden planted by former Presidents and Taoisigh and then we found a presidential spade used for the tree planting. When we got a new President, my husband Martin said to us we should write to him but we laughed and thought no more of it.”

Martin’s persistence prevailed however, as they soon wrote a letter to President Higgins. “He kept at it until we sent a hand written letter to the President inviting him to plant a tree and explaining to him what we were about. We sent the link to our website and gave him an open invitation to come down at his own convenience, whenever it suited him.”

Expecting the President to politely decline, Ann and Annette were pleasantly surprised to get a reply saying he will keep them in mind.

“I took a notion then to write back to his lovely letter thanking him for the reply, reminding him it was an open invitation and I sent him a copy of my daughter Mary’s comic. It is about Midir and Ethain, it is in Irish and it is art. It is a wonderful legend. We got a letter saying it would be passed on to the President, thank you very much”.

Delighted with the response, Ann didn’t think any further on the correspondence. Almost a year to the day of the original letter they received another letter, thanking them for the invite and informing them that the President would be arriving on March 14.

“The preparations are underway, we have builders here making repairs to the laneway and the building, and we are power washing and de-cluttering.

“We are doing all the cleaning in between our admin work trying to invite the world.”

Ann wants to invite anyone who is available to attend and remind people they are all welcome. “I did try to drive around with invitations and I ran out. We are putting up posters everywhere so I hope everyone knows they are invited.”

Visitors are asked to be there at 10am on the day before President Higgins’ arrival at 11am. They will get an opportunity to mingle with the President and refreshments will also be provided on the day.




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