Attending the Irish Citizenship Ceremony

On Monday 9th December 2019 I attended the ceremony in the Killarney Convention Centre to become an Irish Citizen through naturalisation.

I’ve written about different elements of my Irish Citizenship journey before, but I thought it might be interesting for people to hear about the ceremony itself.

Travel

Since 2018 all of the large citizenship ceremonies have taken place in the INEC / Killarney Convention Centre in Killarney, Co. Kerry. Depending on where in Ireland you live, the journey to Killarney might be quite long.

I live in Dublin, and it took us about 4 hours each way to drive to Killarney. You can also get there by Train or Bus, or you can even fly into Kerry Airport, but your travel options may be limited depending on the time of day of your ceremony.

We chose to drive down to Killarney on the day before, stay overnight in a hotel, and then drive back to Dublin after the ceremony in the afternoon/evening.

Queuing

The invitation letter states the time that you are asked to attend to register. You are not required to get there early (you may be turned away if you are very early), and it probably doesn’t matter that much if you’re up to 30 minutes late. My invite said to attend at 1.15pm, and when I got there at 1.00pm there were a few hundred people ahead of me in the queue, and soon hundreds more gathered behind.

Inside the Convention Centre there are a couple of rooms just dedicated to queuing. Long lines of people snaked up and down the room in a well-organised queue as people waited to register. You might need to wait for a while to register, so if you or your guest have mobility issues, or problems standing for a period of time, you are best to let the authorities know in advance to make special arrangements.

You queue with your guest until you get to just before the actual registration room, at which point the ceremony candidates are separated from guests. You will not be allowed to sit with your guest. Guests are sent upstairs to view the ceremony from the galleries. Citizenship candidates are shown into a different room to register, and from there into the hall at ground level.

In the invite it says you can only bring one guest, and that you shouldn’t bring children. However if you do, then the additional guests and any children (who must be accompanied I guess) will be directed to a separate ‘green room’ where they can watch the ceremony on a live video stream.

Registration

When you register, you go to the desk number on your invite letter (I think there were 24 desks), hand over your invite and show your photo ID. The instructions say that they will accept a passport, driver’s licence or public services card. However, when I showed my PSC they asked for something else that showed my date of birth – so maybe passport or driver’s license is better.

The person at the desk will ask you to sign a form, and then they will give you a plastic folder containing:

  • Your naturalisation / citizenship certificate
  • Your declaration of allegiance and fidelity to the Irish state
  • Words of the national anthem
  • Information about applying for a passport
  • Information about jobs in the public sector
  • Receipt for the payment of €950
  • A letter of welcome from the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar

I was also given a pin badge with the Irish flag on it.

Ceremony

The ceremony is a mixture of music, a couple of short speeches, and the formal declaration from all the citizenship candidates.

Our music was provided by one of the army’s regimental bands, and also by a soloist playing the Irish harp. The band played a selection of light music for about 25 minutes at the start. The Irish flag was also marched onto the stage by members of the armed forces.

In attendance on the stage were:

  • David Stanton TD, the Minister of State for Justice at the Department of Justice and Equality with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration, and Integration
  • Retired High Court Judge Bryan McMahon
  • Mayor of Kerry

The minister made a short speech about citizenship and inclusion in Irish society. The judge also make a short speech on the same topic, and then also presided over the formal declaration which was made by all citizenship candidates at the same time. The national anthem was then played, with only a few people singing it in Irish!

And as soon as the declaration was made, all of the candidates were officially Irish Citizens.

Before the end there was a short announcement on applying for jobs in the Irish public sector, and also an overview of how to apply for your Irish passport using the new online process.

And that was the end. The entire ceremony took less than an hour. My call time for registration was at 1.15pm, the ceremony started a little after 2.00pm, and was over by 3.00pm.

Afterwards

Afterwards it took a while to find my wife, as she left the venue from a different exit. We then took a few photos outside the convention centre, and then set off home.

The stewards and Guards are clearly well-organised at traffic management, and we left the site and Killarney quite quickly.