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President Michael D Higgins got a warm welcome when he came to Laois to visit Abbeyleix Bog

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Email:

lynda.kiernan@leinsterexpress.ie

President Higgins went from visiting Pope Francis to walking in a Laois bog this week, donning a panama hat to avoid the hot sun.

Abbeyleix town in Laois had the sun shining and flowers blooming for President Michael D Higgins this week.

The president arrived on Thursday afternoon May 25 to visit the rare raised bog, restored by the community to become a nature sanctuary and visitor attraction.

First arriving at Abbeyleix Manor Hotel to cheers of local schoolchildren, he gave a passionate, knowledgeable speech about the importance of preserving Irish bogs, praising the locals who have spent 17 years restoring the local bog, given to them by Bord na Móna.

He received a copy of the new strategic plan by the Community Wetlands Forum, and viewed the projects on other raised bogs that were on display, before heading off for a walk on the new boardwalk around the bog.

Wearing a hat in the hot sun, he was guided by local ecologist Fiona Lynam, one of many volunteers on the Abbeyleix bog project.

He also stopped to view the 'Bugingham Pallice' bug hotel, explained by Laois wildlife expert Ricky Whelan.

A little bit of Laois even went back to Aras an Uachtarain, specially requested by Mrs Higgins, who was otherwise engaged on the day.

She had asked for a piece of the bog cotton that is growing profusely on Abbeyleix Bog, and it was duly picked by the President's aides.

The visit also marks national Biodiversity week. Full report and photos in next Tuesday's Leinster Express.