Tonight at midnight Mary McAleese finishes her Presidency after 14 years as President of the Republic of Ireland. While I do not remember much of her election or the campaign preceding it, I do have a memory of much of her years as President as I was 11 when she was elected and have grown a lot since!
I have lots of memories of President McAleese, from her national address the day after the September 11th attacks to the visit of Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II this year. But I have a personal memory of President McAleese which I will always treasure.
During my time a s a Scout Leader, President McAleese paid a visit to the Family Resource Centre in Togher. It was an emotional and exciting day for the centre as the woman who was in charge had grown up in the same area as President McAleese and was overjoyed at the visit. President McAleese spoke will and with conviction and she received a massive applause.
My great memory though is when she was leaving I was given command of the Guard of Honour being given by the 37th Togher, my unit and the local Guides Group. After giving the commands the President thanked me. She was so genuine and it is a moment I always treasure.
President McAleese has served this country well and she can look back on the last 14 years with much pride. I wish her and her family all the best in the future.