President Michael D Higgins paid his first official visit as President to West Limerick last Thursday afternoon.

His Excellency first visited Rathfredagh Cheshire Home where he met with staff and residents before officially opening the facility’s new hydrotherapy pool. During the visit to the home, the President was entertained by a display of integrated dancing performed by the resid-ents and students of Copsewood College, Pallaskenry, who were accompanied by Colm Sands of the well known Sands family.

The President then travelled to Newcastle West where he launched the 2012 Eigse Michael Hartnett Literary and Arts Festival. It was not President Higgins’ first time attending the festival and in his remarks he paid tribute to the legacy of Michael Hartnett “Sadly, with his pre-mature death in 1999, Michael’s work had to cease but the legacy of his work has not ended in the years since.  Our understanding of the man and his reputation has only grown. Appreciation for the talent that marked him as unique has only deepened, for his was finely tuned delicate, at times mischievous, poetic instinct. Always delivered with a craft drawn and honed from familiarity with both the old bardic tradition and the discip-lines of another language. The nineteen-seventies brought the declaration that would mark his place in the popular mind: his Farewell to English”

“Even now, a decade and more since his death, it remains part of his legacy,” the President said.