KOROIT’S reputation as an Irish heritage heartland has been enhanced with the town well represented at a reception for president of Ireland Michael D. Higgins.
Six representatives from the Koroit Irish Festival committee attended the reception as did Koroit Lake School director Felix Meagher and session leader Paddy Fitzgerald.
The event was held last Friday night at the Grand Hyatt Hotel Ballroom and was the official Melbourne reception for Mr Higgins and his wife Sabina.
Also in attendance was O'Shea Ryan Academy of Irish Dance leader Geraldine Ryan and her daughter, Geraldine.
The dance academy has been a constant at the Koroit Irish Festival since its inception and in 2017 was named as the event’s artist of the year.
Mr Higgins, who is the ninth president of Ireland and has been in the role since 2011, spoke to the crowd about the strong links between Australia and Ireland.
He thanked those in attendance for the role they play in retaining strong links to Irish culture through music, dance, sport, art and community pursuits.
Koroit Irish Festival president Chris Evans said the reception was a great opportunity.
“As a committee, we were thrilled to be invited to such an important gathering,” Mr Evans said.
“To have six committee representatives go along and be part of what was a huge occasion for the Irish community in Victoria was just amazing.
“A representative of the committee got to meet the president personally and have a chat to him about the festival.
“The Irish are very patriotic and it’s nice to think we are helping play a small part in keeping the culture of what is a very special place to many people in Australia in the spotlight.”
While the reception was a chance for Mr Higgins to thank the Victorian Irish community for their contributions, it was also an opportunity for a meeting of like minds.
Mr Evans said members of his committee made some important contacts at the reception.
“To have committee members such as Anthony Dowling, Oonagh Kilpatrick and Adele MacDonald at the reception was such an asset for us,” he said.
“They are all very passionate about Koroit and the festival and they were able to spread the word about what we are all about.”