Higgins visits GAA London HQ


President Michael Higgins has been welcomed by hundreds of London-based members of the Gaelic Athletic Association to the organisation's London headquarters.

Speaking at the Emerald Grounds in Ruislip in West London, Mr Higgins said it was a particular joy to renew old friendships.

Mr Higgins, who spent years working and studying on Britain, was accompanied by his wife, Sabina and the Irish ambassador to Britain, Bobby McDonagh and his wife, Mary.

President Higgins' mid-morning arrival at Ruislip marked the first visit by an Irish head-of-state to a GAA grounds in Britain.

Congratulating the GAA on its achievements in Britain, Mr Higgins said the association had shared "our national games across diverse communities".

Paying tribute to older Irish emigrants, Mr Higgins said they were owed “a profound debt” for preserving and nurturing Irish culture in Britain during times of hardship.

“Here today, with pitches outside full of young players supported by their families and friends, we can see the legacy of earlier generations so clearly,” he said.

Mr Higgins will later attend a staging of three plays telling the story of Irish emigration. These include Tom Murphy's Conversations on a Homecoming, A Whistle in the Dark and Famine at the Hampstead Theatre in north London.