2003 07.23 face painting GARDEN PARTY FOR FAMILIES - ÁRAS AN UACHTARÁIN, DUBLIN
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT McALEESE AT A GARDEN PARTY FOR FAMILIES - ÁRAS AN UACHTARÁIN REMARKS BY PRESIDENT McALEESE AT A GARDEN PARTY FOR FAMILIES - ÁRAS AN UACHTARÁIN WEDNESDAY, 23 JULY, 2003
Cuireann sé an-áthas orm agus ar mo fhear céile, Martin, fáilte ó chroi a chur romhaibh go léir go dtí Áras an Uachtaráin inniu.
I hope you are all enjoying yourselves. It is a great pleasure for both Martin and I to welcome each and every one of you to Áras an Uachtaráin. Still more than a month left of holidays – not bad or are you missing school? The kids aren’t but the mums and dads are! If you’re missing anything it’s probably swapping “Yu-gi-oh Cards” God help us! Who thinks up of these things?
Anyway you’re all very welcome – the Áras is a friendly place, though there’s a very big dungeon for anyone misbehaving or eating too many cakes! Today is a celebration of family and friends. Today is about acknowledging that in our warp speed world, we race along with little or no time to reflect on life, what we have, what we hold dear, what are the real priorities, to listen to each other, to appreciate each other - my hope is that it will in some way give you a little time out to relax and enjoy each other’s company, a brief respite from the complexities and demands and sometimes the suffering that family life can bring.
I grew up in a family of nine brothers and sisters, so I know how hard it is to get along with everyone all of the time. Families are the place where we first realise that not everyone is exactly the same, not everyone sees things or hears things or understands things exactly as we ourselves do. Families come in all shapes and sizes, but they are still the first and the most important place of learning and of belonging in our lives. It shapes our experiences, personalities and ways of responding to the world far beyond those early years. There is a saying that what is learnt in childhood is engraved on stone. Engrave well and like a skilled diamond cutter a good parent can bring out the brilliance, the internal beauty in a child; engrave badly and you can mark a child for life. We get one chance with our children - that is why good families, good parenting are worth celebrating, worth their weight in gold to any community, any country.
It is not always easy to appreciate our parents when we are young, when they make us do our homework, clean our room, help with the housework – but they do so much for us too, things that we often don’t appreciate until we have grown up and become parents ourselves. Whatever the occasion, good or bad, sad or happy they are there, always there to worry with us, smile with us, listen to our every problem, to stand by us, to stand up for us. So I hope today will be a day when all of you say a special thank you to your parents and give them some of the applause they deserve.
And to the parents and grandparents here today, you know that in between the ups and downs of family life, the daily struggles, the arguments, the worrying, there is always the wonderful sense of fulfilment and pride and magic that children bring to our lives – a feeling beyond any and all comparisons. We are proud of our children but more importantly it is through our children that we adults come to truly know about love, about bringing a incredible richness to each others lives.
I begrudgingly thank our MC this afternoon, Paul Kennedy who I have a very big bone to pick with. The last time he was here he invited people to leave the marquee in order ‘to meet with and shoot the President’. The fact that he left the words “with a camera” out of the equation was the cause of much anxiety to the good members of the Gardai who I may add are now waiting outside to interview him! Not that they’ll be able to when I’m finished with him! We Belfast women are well able to look after ourselves! Shoot the President indeed!
Anyway, I would like to thank our wonderful entertainers this afternoon - the very talented
Hallelujah Choir, together with Aiden Toomey, Steven Holland, Mary Lynch, Guy Carlton, Barbara Schmauct, Eleigh Leigh, Mieke Herrmann, Elisabetta Jacomini and Darren Byrne. I would also like to thank the Civil Defence Officers and the staff here at Áras who work very hard to make occasions such as this enjoyable for everyone. Have a lovely day – don’t worry too much about the dungeon – it’s nearly full after the last time we had kids here so unless you’re really bad………
There’s one final thing I’d like to do and that is to congratulate a special guest, Maura Brennan whose celebrating her 80th Birthday today. Congratulations Maura – we have a cake to mark the occasion and we hope that you will enjoy your birthday very much indeed.
Go raibh maith agaibh.