Given that Mr Higgins is a poet, and his wife is an actress, it is not surprising that they were both fascinated by being shown the place where the Bard was born and brought up.

One area that attracted enormous interest was the stone floor in the parlour of the building, which dates back to 1530 – 34 years before Shakespeare’s birth.

When told that people sometimes removed their footwear to stand on the floor, Mrs Higgins took off her shoes and said she wanted “to be close to Shakespeare”.

After the presidential visit Dr Diana Owen, the director of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, told the Herald: “They had no idea it was such a complete house and said it was a wonderful experience stepping back in time, to Shakespeare’s time.”

When Mr and Mrs Higgins emerged from the house into the garden, someone shouted: “Three cheers for Ireland!” After the customary hip, hip hoorays, Mr Higgins responded: “Three cheers for Shakespeare!”

'Three cheers for Shakespeare!' cried the president.

As they came out of the building they were treated to a performance of Titania’s lullaby from A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Jennifer Stone, Victoria Baker and Martin Smith.

Earlier the president and his wife visited the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, where they watched an extract from the RSC’s current production of Henry IV Part 1, starring Sir Antony Sher as Falstaff and Alex Hassell as Prince Hal.

The rounded off their UK trip with a visit to Coventry, including Coventry Cathedral in their itinerary.

For fuller reports see next week’s newspapers.

The president was serenaded by a cittern.