On Friday 17 March 2023, the Ambassador of Ireland to Luxembourg, Stephen Dawson, held a National Day reception at the Cercle Cité in Luxembourg city centre.
Around 200 people attended the lunchtime St Patrick's reception which was held in the venue's elegant first floor foyer with its splendid glass cupola above the bar, and the adjoining Salon Bleu with its distinctive moulded ceilings, sculpted wood panelling and contrasting blue walls.
Those in attendance included Luxembourg's Minister of Finance, Yuriko Backes, Luxembourg City's Mayor, Lydie Polfer, the British Ambassador, Fleur Thomas, as well as representatives of the business and diplomatic circles and, of course, representatives of Ireland's business and social communities active in the Grand Duchy.
Ambassador Dawson addressed the invited guests and explained that while he was delighted to be holding the reception, it would be his first and last St Patrick's Reception in Luxembourg, due to first the pandemic causing the cancellation of plans for such a reception over the past three years, and also that he would be leaving his post in the summer.
Staying on the issue of the pandemic, he praised the response of the medical profession which was something to be proud of. He stated that in Ireland, just like in Luxembourg the economy has recovered. He also mentioned the war in Ukraine which was affecting the safety and security of the entire continent, stating: "Ireland stands absolutely with Ukraine"; he also referenced sending €50 million in aid to Ukraine and that Ireland has received over 75,000 refugees from Ukraine.
This year, Ireland is celebrating important milestones, including 100 years since the creation of the free state (note: the constitution of the Ireland's Free State was signed in December 2022), 100 years since joining the League of Nations and 50 years since Ireland joined the European Economic Community (EEC) - which totally transformed Ireland's fortunes and also led to many Irish people moving to Luxembourg (to work at the European Institutions, etc.).
He also mentioned the Luxembourg Embassy opening in Dublin one year ago, as well as US President Joe Biden (hopefully soon to visit Northern Ireland) and the death of Queen Elizabeth II. He also acknowledged the recent agreement, the Windsor Framework Agreement, between the EU and the UK which he stressed is in everyone's interest.
In ending his address, Ambassador Dawson acknowledged the support of Luxembourg City and the "greening" this evening of the water tower in Gasperich (which is clearly visible from the A1/A6 motorway) and also the Niederanven municipality and the part that they play in recognising Ireland's national day. In closing, he acknowledged the musicians from the Luxembourg branch of Comhaltas Ceolteoiri Eireann as well as An Bord Bia and Home from Home (in Strassen) that had supported the reception.
Following the formalities of the occasion, those attending enjoyed the reception including a great spread of Irish produce, from cocktail sausages and lamb pasties to smoked Irish salmon and a range of Irish cheeses, etc.