Ladies and gentlemen,

I must say it is a very great pleasure to be with you on this occasion, both my wife and I. I am hugely grateful to the President, Dr Jim Brown, for his very generous and warm words. Today we join all of you at this hallowed university, to which my Great Great Great Grandmother originally gave a Charter all those years ago in 1849, is even more special.

You have laid on such a marvellous event for us. We have seen some of the most remarkable aspects of West of Ireland culture, art and traditions and it is so marvellous to know these traditions are being maintained. I think I am little too old to be able to learn the steps to the irish dancing but having been a great admirer of Fred Astaire for as long as I can remember it would be marvellous if I could!

For me, having first of all had the great joy of coming to Ireland for the first time 20 years ago for the first time in 1995 and then again in 2002. Each time I have been overwhelmed and so deeply touched by the extraordinary kindness, the welcome, the enthusiasm, indeed the fun of being in Ireland. Apart from anything else, the chance of plenty of good jokes and laughter makes the whole visit a delight. You have a wonderful spirit, you really do. There is a unique magic about Ireland which is totally irresistible. So wherever I go in the world and meet Irish people, I promise you it always makes me feel better. You raise our spirits in so many different ways and for that I think we owe you an enormous debt of gratitude wherever the Irish smile touches people around the world.

We greatly look forward to our all-too-short visit to your wonderful island and also to visiting those things like the marine institute and the Burren, which I have always wanted to see. I am told it's a quite good time of year to visit the Burren and I hope the odd orchid might be out. As you mentioned, having an interest in sustainable development and sustainable agriculture and indeed in the survival and flourishing of rural communities and family farms, it is I think remarkable that in Ireland you pay such important attention to those aspects of continuity, of working with nature and understanding that bond we have with nature. So altogether for us it is a very special two days so thank you again for such a really wonderful welcome.