President Mary Robinson in Cardiff

“It is right to remember the victims of the Famine and the survivors who made their homes in Wales,” President Mary Robinson told members of the Irish community at a reception in Cardiff Castle, hosted by the Irish Ambassador, Mr. Ted Barrington and Mrs. Barrington, on Sunday afternoon, 2 February, 1997.
That morning the President and her husband, accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Barrington, had attended Mass at St. David’s Cathedral. During his sermon, the Administrator, Fr. Whitehouse, welcomed the distinguished members of the congregation, pointing out that it was the first time in its 150 year history that a Head of State had visited the Cathedral.
The President paid tribute to the work that is being done by the Wales Famine Forum. “The Wales Famine Forum is doing a great service by remembering the Famine which started in 1845 and reached its peak in 1847. And while doing so the Forum is also spotlighting famine in the world today. There are children dying in Third World countries for want of clean drinking water and food. They must not be forgotten.”
Wales Famine Forum Chairman John Sweeney said:

“The President was fascinated to learn about the links between Wales and the Great Famine and has asked to be kept in touch with what we are doing to commemorate the tragedy.”

Mrs. Robinson was delighted with the warm welcome she had received in Cardiff - even after Ireland had beaten Wales by just one point in the international Rugby match at Cardiff Arms Park which she had attended the previous day.
Accompanied by her husband and Mr. and Mrs. Barrington, President Robinson personally greeted more than 200 guests at the reception.
She took the opportunity of congratulating Irish Dance champion Peter Harding of Llanishen,Cardiff, who just a few days earlier had successfully auditioned for Riverdance.

©: John O’Sullivan, a freelance journalist living in Cardiff.

Published in The Green Dragon No 2, Spring 1997.

See also: Grosse Īle