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.

Becoming Irish

I’ve written a fair bit about my application for Irish Citizenship over the last couple of years, but I only just got confirmation that it’s finally going to happen.

I sent in my application in March 2018, about 20 months ago, and this week I received my invitation to my Citizenship Ceremony taking place in the Killarney Convention Centre (INEC) on Monday 9th December.

And so in 10 days’ time I’ll officially be an Irish Citizen, and still a British Citizen, as both countries allow people to maintain dual citizenship – and I’ll be able to apply for an Irish passport.

It was in 2007 that I arrived to live and work in Dublin, and in 2013 that I married my Irish wife, and over that time Ireland has definitely become my home. I have no desire to ever move back to live in the UK, particularly with all the Brexit nonsense going on, so I’m glad that I can feel fully settled here as one of its citizens.

The ceremony

Attendance at a citizenship ceremony is mandatory for all adults receiving citizenship through naturalisation.

They take place several times a year, and since 2018 they have been hosted in Killarney. Often there are three different ceremonies during the during the day, welcoming around 1,000 new Irish citizens in each ceremony.

The drive to Killarney is around 4 hours each way from Dublin, so we’re planning to drive down the day before and stay in a hotel overnight in order to share out the driving over two days.

When I register on the day I’ll be given my Certificate of Naturalisation, and then during the ceremony I’ll join the others there in making a declaration of fidelity to the Irish nation and loyalty to the State. And at that point I’ll officially be Irish!

2,400 New Irish Citizens

The latest Naturalisation ceremony took place today in Killarney, Co Kerry, with around 2,400 people gaining their Irish citizenship.

Included in that number are 309 UK citizens. Sadly I’m not one of them. I’ve been waiting for more than 13 months for my Irish citizenship, and there’s no sign that it’s going to be approved any time soon.

I’ve given up asking for updates on my application to INIS, as I always get the same canned reply which tells me nothing except it’s in progress.

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