Northern Ireland

Queen attends state dinner hosted by Mary McAleese

President of Ireland Mary McAleese and Queen Elizabeth II
Image caption The state dinner is hosted by the President of Ireland Mary McAleese

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have been treated to the finest Irish hospitality at a state dinner hosted by the President of Ireland Mary McAleese and her husband Dr Martin McAleese.

Irish produce was showcased at the dinner, held in Dublin Castle, with a menu offering such delights as cured salmon with Burren smoked salmon cream, rib of Slaney Valley beef, ox cheek and tongue with smoked champ potato and soda bread sugar biscuits.

Best of Irish

The chef behind these mouth-watering offerings is Ross Lewis of Dublin's Chapter One restaurant who worked with President Mary McAleese's staff to devise the menu.

The president's spokeswoman said it was drawn up to "reflect the best of Irish produce".

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were joined by 172 dignitaries from the Irish Republic, Northern Ireland and Great Britain at the black-tie event.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Taoiseach Enda Kenny rubbed shoulders with Nobel laureate and poet Seamus Heaney, Ireland rugby captain Brian O'Driscoll and his actress wife Amy Huberman.

Other guests included Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and his wife Iris, making her first public appearance since she withdrew from politics in the wake of the scandal surrounding her affair with 19-year-old Kirk McCambley.

The leaders of the SDLP, UUP and Alliance Party were also in attendance, along with Irish government cabinet ministers, former Irish prime ministers, Gus O'Donnell, Cabinet Secretary and head of Britain's civil service, and Police Service of Northern Ireland chief Matt Baggott.

Entertainment during dinner was provided by renowned uilleann piper Liam O'Flynn, and harpist Denise Kelly.

After dinner highlights included traditional Irish music and dance performances by Riverdance alumni.

The Queen also made the only public address of her four-day state visit and praised the "lasting rapport" between the UK and Ireland.