A gathering including entertainers Hozier and the Dublin Youth Choir helped to switch on the festive lights at a ceremony at Áras an Uachtaráin on Saturday evening.

The annual “tree-lighting ceremony” sees President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina invite people from around the country to mark the beginning of the Christmas season.

In his remarks at the event, President Higgins said it was important that Irish people remember the core meaning of Christmas – a continued obligation to offer hospitality, “welcome strangers into our midst”, and celebrate the joy that welcoming strangers brings.

“In contemporary times, it means reaching out a hand of friendship to those who have travelled to Ireland from far away countries, and have arrived on our shores in need of refuge and shelter,” he said.



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