PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins is to be honoured with a civic reception at Limerick County Council during his first official visit to the county since being elected President.
Mr Higgins will be received by Cathaoirleach Cllr Mary Harty and county manager Gerry Behan at a function at County Hall in Dooradoyle, as part of a visit which will also see him officially open the 2012 Eigse Michael Hartnett poetry and literature festival in Newcastle West.
The president will also visit St Gabrielâ€™s School & Centre in Rosbrien and Rathfredagh Cheshire Home near Newcastle West.
Cllr Harty said that she will be â€œhonouredâ€ to formally welcome Mr Higgins to County Hall. â€œIâ€™m personally very proud to receive him as Cathaoirleach. As we know, he was coming down for the opening of Eigse, and we contacted his office and asked if he would be willing to attend a civic reception.
â€œHe also has a keen interest in places that help people with disabilities, so we were able to organise for him to visit St Gabrielâ€™s and Rathfredagh as well. Weâ€™re absolutely delighted that he has taken the time and agreed to visit.â€
Mr Higgins will be the first person to be honoured with a full civic reception by Limerick County Council since murdered Garryowen rugby player Shane Geoghegan was posthumously recognised in July 2010.
Members of Mr Higginsâ€™ family, officials from local branches of the Labour Party and the Mayor of Limerick have all been formally invited to Thursdayâ€™s reception, which will take place after the President has planted a commemorative tree outside County Hall.
Mr Higgins will begin his visit at St Gabrielâ€™s School & Centre in Rosbrien, which provides education and therapy services for children with physical and intellectual disabilities.
He will later travel to Rathfredagh Cheshire Home, near Newcastle West, which cares for adults with physical disabilities, acquired brain injuries and neurological conditions.
He will conclude his visit by formally opening the 2012 Eigse Michael Hartnett festival.