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Queen Elizabeth gave a nice bottle of whiskey to Enda Kenny in 2011

Find out what presents Enda Kenny has received since taking office… including a €5k famine painting from Michael Flatley.

Image: The Shackleton Whisky via Facebook

SINCE TAKING OFFICE in 2011, Enda Kenny has not been showered with expensive gifts from other global leaders.

Despite high-profile visits from various heads of State, the Taoiseach’s present drawer is a little bare, according to documents released under a Freedom of Information request.

Presents with a value of €649 or less are not recorded by the Department, a rule set out in the Ethics legislation, and can be kept in the personal collections of taoisigh.

However, there is one item that remains in government buildings despite it being worth less than the threshold which makes it a gift to the State. A bottle of whiskey given to Kenny by Queen Elizabeth II during her May 2011 visit is currently on display in Kenny’s private offices.

Although its exact value is yet to be estimated in an official capacity, ‘The Enduring Spirit’ – Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whiskey in a presentation box – sells online for about €150. A spokesperson for the Department of the Taoiseach said the bottle has not been opened.

TheJournal.ie understands that gifts of such nature could be taken into the private collection of the Taoiseach but because of the importance of the Queen’s visit, the gift will remain in the State’s possession.

“He can keep it if he so wishes but that wouldn’t happen in this case,” said the spokesperson.

Over the past two years, Kenny has also received items from the world’s superpowers.

President Barack Obama presented the Fine Gael leader witha limited edition silkscreen print, entitled Marigold, by US artist Alex Katz in 2011. There are only 50 versions of the artwork made and it is believed to be worth about €1,500. It can be seen in the corridor outside the Sycamore Room in Leinster House.

Marigold, Alex Katz

Across the way, a silk-like painting by Xu Yang hangs. It was a gift from Chinese vice-president Xi Jinping during his visit last year. Entitled ‘Prosperous Scene of Suzhou’, it is worth about €800 and was placed there following a direct request by the Taoiseach. During Kenny’s return trip to China, Premier Wen Jiabo gave him a 17-inch Chinese urn. It is currently awaiting valuation.

The Office of Public Works advised that a Chinese art specialist would have to be paid to ascertain the value, telling the Government secretariat that it might be more feasible to wait until there were a number of items to be examined. The department agreed as there may be more gifts “from the East” later this year as a result of the G8 meetings being held in Fermanagh in June.

The most recent present to the Taoiseach came from closer to home. Dancer-turned-artist Michael Flatley gave Kenny an acrylic-on-vinyl paiting with an “elaborate handcarved wooden frame”. An Ocras Mór (The Famine) is valued at €5,000 because of the similar price paid for the artist’s first work and the fact that the wood on the frame comes from trees of Castlehyde, Flatley’s expansive Cork estate.

Other expensive gifts in the possession of the State include a €30,000 landscape painting by Chinese artist Guan Mingang. The graphic in ink and colour on paper is currently located in the Government Secretariat. It was originally presented to Brian Cowen at UCC in October 2010.

According to the Freedom of Information request, there have been no offers of gifts rejected by the Taoiseach’s department.

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