The Spanish ambassador to Ireland, Enrique Pastor de Gana, presented Walsh with the Grand Cross of the Agricultural Order of Merit on behalf of the king at a ceremony in Dublin last week.
The award is even more exceptional given that it is rarely given to a non-Spaniard.
“I am conscious that this award is a rare one, even in Spain. I therefore greatly appreciate the distinction which King Juan Carlos has bestowed on me,” Walsh said. “I value greatly the level of cooperation and friendship which I have had with my Spanish counterparts and, in particular, with the present Spanish minister, Miguel Arias Canete.”
The ambassador said Walsh was honored because of his services to agriculture across the EU.
Spain is the second EU member state to honor Walsh. He was awarded the Legion d’Honneur by France last year, on the nomination of President Jacques Chirac.
Irish farmers staged a mass tractor protest across Ireland recently to highlight what they say is a gloomy future for agriculture in Ireland, thanks to government and EU policy.