If I may say so, It is a particular pleasure that we will be meeting so many people throughout the course of today who have helped this city, county and country throughout this dreadful pandemic – from those who have been on the frontline against Covid, to those who have cared for loved ones and through community groups, and indeed to those remarkable Waterford-based innovators whose Covid tracker app has aided your national response, you are owed a great debt of gratitude.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Tá áthas an domhain orainn a bheith anseo i bPort Lairg [We have the ‘joy of the world’ to be here in Waterford].

I cannot tell you what huge pleasure it gives both my wife and myself to be with you in Ireland once again, a country that means more to us than I can possibly say. It has long been one of our great ambitions to visit every county of this majestic land before senility totally overtakes us! So to have been so warmly welcomed – and, not least, by a Viking re-enactment – is a wonderful blessing, and one that will certainly live long in our memories

It is in places such as Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city, where we are reminded so vividly of our ancient connections, and how they have evolved over time toward a modern friendship. From a Viking town, to a city with a royal charter, to the place where the first Irish tricolour was flown, to the home of a new university and acclaimed as the best place to live in Ireland, Waterford is a city of promise and hope for the future.

And, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have badly needed such hope. Over the last two years we have all faced challenges which, before Covid, would have seemed unimaginable. Where once stood borders or seas dividing nations, we have been shown, in the starkest of terms, just how connected we are as a global community.

If I may say so, It is a particular pleasure that we will be meeting so many people throughout the course of today who have helped this city, county and country throughout this dreadful pandemic – from those who have been on the frontline against Covid, to those who have cared for loved ones and through community groups, and indeed to those remarkable Waterford-based innovators whose Covid tracker app has aided your national response, you are owed a great debt of gratitude. 

Further afield, and especially in the past few weeks, our thoughts, and I am sure your thoughts and prayers, ladies and gentlemen, however inadequate they may be, are with the people of Ukraine as they continue to face such uncertainty and brutal aggression. It has been most moving to meet members of Waterford’s Ukrainian community here today and to learn of the actions that your county is taking to support them. Such times as we are living through bring into sharp relief the importance of peace and friendship, which history tells us we can too easily take for granted. 

It is yet another demonstration of how our two countries are not just neighbours, but partners who, though at times we have travelled a troubled road together, have through reconciliation and understanding forged a future that has benefitted both our peoples and the world.

In 1904, my great great-grandfather, King Edward VII, visited this wonderful city and spoke warmly of the beauty of this place and the welcome he received.  When he died, an English clergyman, Henry Scott Holland, delivered a sermon at the funeral that later became a poem. And I was delighted to learn that this poem, Death Is Nothing At All, was later adapted by the Carmelite monks in Tallow here in County Waterford, who helped make it famous for an international audience. It reminds us at times when we need it most that we must celebrate those we love, to “Laugh as we always laughed” and understand that “Nothing is past, nothing is lost”. This is true for all those of us who have lost loved ones in recent years. It is true for our countries and our people too...

Here, in Waterford, I know that the many significant moments of the 1910’s and 1920’s, which shaped the city and the country’s modern history, are being remembered with empathy and with sensitivity through the Decade of Centenaries.

Therefore, Ladies and Gentlemen, we are especially pleased to be able to resume our own personal voyage around Ireland by starting a visit here, in your beautiful county, celebrating old friendships and building new ones.

Is deas a bheith arís le seanchairde  [It is good to be with old friends again].