VISITING dignitaries, including the English, Dutch, Danish, Belgian and Latvian ambassadors to Ireland, were greeted by Mayor of Kilkenny David Fitzgerald at a special reception in City Hall this morning.
The guest of honour was the outgoing Dutch ambassador, his excellency Robert Engels, whose term of office comes to an end this summer.
The city treasures, including the Liber Primus and City Charter, were on display for the visitors.
“It is my great pleasure to have such an important audience here,” he said.
In his concluding remarks, the mayor said Kilkenny strove to be an example of good local government, and that the county was turning a corner.
“I urge you to go back to the people you represent, and say Ireland is fighting back and you have been to a place where that fightback has begun,” he told his guests.
His Excellency Robert Engels thanked the mayor and the city for the hospitality.
“It has been a memorable visit for me and my wife,” he said.
“We are very sensitive to the words you have spoken. I assure you we understand your message, and are grateful that you took the time to show us what Kilkenny stands for.”
Last night, solicitor Paul Smithwick threw a farewell dinner for the departing dignitary, who is a personal friend of his. The evening began at 7pm with drinks in the Cellar Bar of the St Francis Abbey Brewery, before the party moved across the road for dinner in Rothe House.
The meal was prepared by renowned local chef Eugene McSweeney. Almost 120 guests attended the black-tie affair, which also included in its itinerary a visit to the magnificent Rothe House gardens.
Ambassador Engels came in for some gentle ribbing from his host, who kept his dinner guests entertained with a speech furnished with anecdotes and humour. Other speakers during the night included Peter McQuillan, Joe Ledwidge, and Mayor Fitzgerald.