Irish president sad to leave office after 14 years

AP News
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Posted: Nov 10, 2011 8:45 AM
Irish president sad to leave office after 14 years

President Mary McAleese says she's sad to be leaving as Ireland's ceremonial head of state after 14 years.

McAleese opened a refurbished Dublin hostel for homeless men as the final act of her presidency Thursday.

She and her family are moving out of Ireland's opulent presidential residence a day before Friday's inauguration of her successor, Michael D. Higgins.

"It's a sad day, but I also have a great sense of gratitude," McAleese says. "I woke up every morning full of joy. I loved every day of the job."

The 60-year-old McAleese, a Belfast-born Catholic, made reconciliation with Northern Ireland Protestants a focal point for her presidency. Earlier this year she hosted Queen Elizabeth II's first official visit to the Republic of Ireland.