DID you notice that many people in Ireland seemed to have abandoned the traditional Christ-Child, and the Holy Family in the official Christmas cards for 1986? For the first time in its history the Irish Tourist Board produced a "secular" card in the form of a view of the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, the Irish equivalent of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, and founded in 1684 for Irishmen who had served in the British Army.
The Irish Embassy in London's Christmas card was one depicting wild flowers and pheasants, a reproduction of a National Gallery of Ireland painting by the Belfast artist, Andrew Nicholl (1804-1886).
However, His Excellency the Irish Ambassador to Italy, Dr Eamonn Kennedy, had a really classic Christian Christmas card issued from the Eternal City. He also announced his retirement from Ireland's Foreign Service. He and his New York born wife, Jeanie, and their young family, are to take up residence in the "Big Apple". I wish them many happy years there.
Dr Eamonn Kennedy was one of the most popular and successful of Irish Ambassadors appointed to the Court of St James. He was a Doctor of Economics, a veteran diplomat, and he had an enormous sense of fun. When he spoke officially or unofficially it was always briefly and to the point, and with good humour. He had lots of time for "little people".
He was a generous and kindly host, and while he was in Britain he was a much liked and respected diplomatic member of the Garrick Club. His period in London was a time of much favourable and understanding comment on Ireland's problems in the British media. His receptions were always popular and well attended by political commentators from TV, radio and the press, and Members of Parliament and the House of Lords from all parties.