President Michael D. Higgins has remembered Irish emigrants, and those from overseas now living in Ireland, in his St. Patrick’s Day message.

He said the nation celebrates a wider and diverse Irish family “to whom we remain connected by a strong cultural heritage and history.”

“We are grateful for all they do to keep that heritage alive in their adopted homelands across the globe, as well as for their interest in, and tangible support for, Ireland’s welfare and development.”

St. Patrick’s Day would be a special day for all those Irish communities great and small across the world that come together in a spirit of pride and joy to celebrate their identity and their links of affinity and affection with their homeland of origin, the president said.

He particularly remembered recent Irish emigrants, most of who moved overseas because of the economic climate at home.

“Wherever they may be, we hope that our sons and daughters are happy and prospering in their adopted communities and that they will have some opportunity, with friends and neighbors, to share the joyous celebration of our patron saint,” he said.

Higgins was especially conscious of Irish peacekeepers and humanitarian workers whose sense of service to vulnerable people in distant places prevented them from being home on St. Patrick’s Day.

He then had a special word for migrants who had made Ireland their new home when he called on his fellow country people to “make a special effort to include them in our national celebration.”

He added, “To all those who share this island, to Irish people by birth or descent wherever they may be in the world and to those who simply consider themselves to be friends of Ireland, I wish each and every one of you a happy, peaceful and authentically Irish St. Patrick’s Day.”

The president remembered the challenging circumstances under which St. Patrick arrived on Irish shores.

“Despite the fact that he was a Roman-Briton who came to Ireland as a slave, Patrick forgave his captors and accepted the Irish he encountered as his own community,” he said.

“We recall the transformative power of his great spirit of forgiveness and generosity.

“It was this generous spirit that commended Patrick to be embraced as our beloved patron saint. His name has since become synonymous with an inclusive and authentic version of Irishness with its stress on the duty and the joys of hospitality.”

On March 17, 28 heritage properties around the country including Kilkenny Castle, Donegal Castle and the president’s residence, Aras an Uachtarain, will be painted green for St. Patrick’s Day.