Northern Ireland

Ceiliúradh: Royal Albert Hall celebrates Irish culture

Elvis Costello, Paul Brady, Glen Hansard and Imelda May were among the performers
Image caption Elvis Costello, Paul Brady, Glen Hansard and Imelda May were among the performers

Artists and musicians from Ireland, as well as descendants of Irish emigrants, have performed in a London concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

The event was called Ceiliúradh, which translates as celebration.

It was held in honour of Irish President Michael D Higgins as part of the historic state visit to the UK.

Earlier on Thursday, the Queen and Mr Higgins hosted a Northern Ireland-themed reception at Windsor Castle.

'Gracious welcome'

They met politicians, charity workers and others who have made a significant contribution to the Irish peace process and public life in Northern Ireland.

Mr Higgins and his wife were welcomed to the Royal Albert Hall by Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.

The president described the event as a "wonderful and historic occasion" in a "magnificent venue".

Image caption Mr Higgins and his wife Sabina were applauded as they entered the Royal Albert Hall
Image caption Elvis Costello and Conor O'Brien of Villagers performed together

"This celebration, above all, is for the thousands of Irish people in this Hall who have made Britain their home or whose parents or grandparents did, as well as the friends, neighbours, relatives and in-laws, they have brought along," he said.

'Deep friendship'

President Higgins thanked the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh for their "gracious welcome and warm hospitality" throughout his UK trip.

"The evident grace and warmth with which they have prepared for, and arranged, my state visit is reflective of the true and deep friendship that now exists between Ireland and the United Kingdom," he added.

The president also paid tribute to members of the Irish community in Britain.

He thanked them for "the fidelity you have shown to Ireland over many years; for the contribution you have made to the development of Britain; and for your part in the consolidation of an enduring friendship between our two countries".

"On a night like this, it is great to be Irish. And it is even better to share it in the company of our friends in Britain," Mr Higgins added.

Image caption TV presenter Dermot O'Leary, who is of Irish descent, was among the performers

The concert organisers said the event celebrated the contribution of the Irish community in the UK and the "strength and range of collaboration and creativity between Ireland and the United Kingdom".

Northern Ireland singer-songwriter Paul Brady, Oscar-winning musician Glen Hansard, actress Fiona Shaw, best-selling author Joseph O'Connor and TV presenter Dermot O'Leary were among the performers.

The special guest was singer Elvis Costello, whose real name is Declan McManus.

Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny, and former British Prime Minister John Major - who was heavily involved in the early days of the Irish peace process - were among the guests.

Highlights of Ceiliúradh, Ultimate Irish Music at the Royal Albert Hall: A Presidential Celebration, will be shown on BBC 4 on Sunday at 20:00 BST .

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