President Higgins departs on an official visit to Lorient, France on Friday 1st August for the ‘Festival Interceltique de Lorient’ and departs France for Belgium on Sunday for two World War 1 Commemoration Ceremonies; at Liege and Mons, on Monday 4th August. Sabina Higgins will accompany the President.
On arrival in Lann-Bihoué Airport, Lorient the President will be met by Sous Préfet (Sub Prefect) of Lorient, Mr. Jean-Francis Treffel and the Ambassador of Ireland to France, Mr Rory Montgomery. On the afternoon of Friday (1st) the President will visit the Museum of the East India Company and the National Maritime Museum, Citadelle de Port Louis, both in Lorient.
On Saturday (2 August) The President officially opens a Contemporary Art Exhibition and attends a Reception at La Galerie du Faouëdic and afterwards is guest of honor at a lunch hosted by the Sous Préfet, Mr. Jean-Francis Treffel.
In the afternoon the President visits the Irish Pavilion and Stands at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient – and later attends a Reception on the L.E. Niamh with Festival organisers, local officials and Irish community representatives. And finally on Saturday the President and Mrs Higgins attend a Gala Concert in the Grand Théâtre, where the Liam O'Flynn Quartet pays homage to Seamus Heaney.
On Sunday morning, 3 August, the President attends the Grande Parade des Nations Celtes and Reception at the Stade du Moustoir. Later he meets with local GAA Community and representatives of Brittany GAA teams at The Galway Inn. On Sunday afternoon the President and Sabina Higgins depart for official visit to Belgium for World War 1 Commemoration Ceremonies in Liege and Mons, Belgium.
On arrival in Liege on Sunday evening the President will be met by The Irish Ambassador to Belgium, Mr Eamonn Mac Aodha.
On Monday 4 August, the President first attends events to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War hosted by Belgium in Liège. Over seventy countries have been invited to attend and some 16 of these will be represented at Head of State level. The President and Mrs Higgins will be welcomed by the King and Queen of the Belgians, participate in a ceremony of commemoration at the Monument Interalliés at Cointe and attend lunch at the Palais des Princes-Evêques.
Later that evening (Monday 4th) the President and Sabina attend the First World War Commemorative Service hosted by the United Kingdom at St. Symphorien Military Cemetery in Mons. Five Hundred and Thirteen soldiers from Britain, Ireland, Canada, Belgium and Germany are buried in the cemetery at St. Symphorien and senior representatives from these countries have been invited to attend the ceremony at dusk on the 4th of August. Approximately 500 guests will attend this ceremony, consisting of 100 VIPs from the named countries, and 400 others, including relatives of those who are buried there.
The President returns to Dublin on Tuesday 5th August.