Newly elected Irish president Michael D.Higgins kicks off his first US tour today when he is  guest of honor in New York at a community reception hosted  by the Irish Consul General Noel Kilkenny.

Higgins, 71, a Clare native who represented Galway in the Irish parliament for many years, will spend four very busy days in the Big Apple before departing to spend two equally intense days in Boston where he will give the keynote address for the annual Famine Commemoration conference.

He will also attend a major banquet for Third World aid organization Self Help Africa in Boston.

While in New York he will visit Ground Zero, meet with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and deliver a keynote address at the American Irish Historical Society as well as hold a meeting with UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon. He will also visit the Irish Famine memorial in Battery Park.

He will also be guest of honor at the American Ireland Fund dinner and will visit the 9/11 Memorial as well as visit the Emerald Isle Immigration Center.

He will attend a Broadway showing of “Once” the Oscar-winning drama set in Dublin.

Higgins was elected with over one million votes last October in a hotly contested race for President of Ireland. He was elected for a seven year term.

A former government minister, he is especially remembered for removing the ban on Sinn Fein from appearing on state owned television and radio.

Michael D Higgins and first lady Sabina at his inauguration in DublinGoogle Images