By Shelley Marsden
While her husband President Higgins was at other appointments today, Sabina Higgins took time out from a packed itinerary during the State visit to drop into RADA and host a lunch in honour of Irish Fashion and Design at the Irish Embassy.
At RADA, accompanied by The Honorable Lady Mary Morrison, lady-in-waiting to the Queen, she was taken on a guided tour of the famous drama and theatre arts school, alongside her son John, daughter Alice Mary, actresses Kate O’ Toole and Fiona Shaw, and award-winning Irish costume designer Joan Bergin (The Tudors).
Visibly moved, the former actress – who studied at Dublin’s first Stanislavsky school – spoke of how Irish and British arts had the ability to unite people, and how she felt like she was surrounded by “one big family of creative talent”.
A visit to the scenery creation studio was followed by a technical light display in one of the academy’s main theatres.
Speaking separately to the Irish World, RADA graduate and member of the RADA Council Fiona Shaw, who will be doing three readings at tomorrow night’s special concert at Royal Albert Hall, said: “It’s wonderful – the whole visit so far has been wonderful.
“Irish actors have always had a very warm welcome in London, but events like this are just a nice reminder of how much Irish talent there actually is here.”
It was straight across town for Mrs Higgins then, for a lunch she was hosting at the Embassy for the creme de la creme of the Irish fashion world in Britain.
Invitees included established fashion talent such as Louise Kennedy and Orla Kiely, as well as up and coming names like Simone Rocha, daughter of John, and Darren Kennedy.
Dermott Rowan, Orla Kiely’s husband and business partner, told the Irish World at the event: “It’s important and significant that the First Lady of Ireland took the time out in what is an unbelievably busy schedule to encourage and appreciate designers.
“This is probably the most important singular event for Irish design in London. It’s fantastic to get that encouragement from the very top.”
The engagements of Mrs Higgins and her husband today, which for the president including meeting London Mayor Boris johnston, are due to conclude with a banquet tonight at the Guildhall in the City of London.