Queen Elizabeth’s Three Day Visit to Ireland

Queen Elizabeth II

The Queen of England and her husband Prince Philip will visit Ireland for three days on May 17.  The programme of events will include a formal welcome for the couple at the Áras from President Mary McAleese, a courtesy call to Government Buildings to meet the Taoiseach, and a State dinner at Dublin Castle.  Both the Queen and President McAleese will deliver speeches at the castle.  The Royal visit will also take in events at Trinity College, Croke Park, the National War Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge, and a trip to the Guinness Storehouse.

A keen follower of horse racing, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will also visit the Irish National Stud in Kildare before moving on to Cashel in Tipperary.  The Queen and her husband Prince Philip are expected to visit the Rock of Cashel.  The Rock of Cashel was the traditional seat of the Kings of Munster for several hundred years and prior to the Norman invasion in 1169.  Cashel is reputed to be the site of conversion of the King of Munster by St Patrick in the 5th Century.  The Queen is also rumoured to pay a visit to the world famous Coolmore Stud near Fethard.  Deputy Tom Hayes has stated that “The Queen’s visit will be a huge boost for the county”.  He said he had made strong representations for the Queen to come to South Tipperary and he was very happy with the commitment that Taoiseach Enda Kenny had given him.

The Queen and her husband will then move on to visit Cork.  Cork City Council has planned to spend €250,000 on a facelift for the city’s English Market for the Queen’s visit.  Lord Mayor of Cork Michael O’Connell said council officials had spoken to traders in the English Market and identified a number of areas in need of a makeover before Queen Elizabeth pays a short visit on May 20th.  Mr O’Connell said he was hoping schools in Cork would give their students a half day for the Queen’s visit and expressed confidence that a festival in Cork city centre to mark the visit would draw thousands for the day.  However, Sinn Féin Cork North Central TD Jonathon O’Brien said the visit was “premature” and called on people opposed to the Queen’s visit to join them in an event on the plaza near the National Monument to celebrate the city’s republican tradition.

An event will also take place at the British Embassy in Dublin, hosted by ambassador Julian King.  Westlife and X-Factor contestant Mary Byrne are among the acts to perform for Queen Elizabeth during an evening celebrating fashion, music and theatre in an unknown venue in Dublin’s docklands on the last evening of the Queen’s State visit.  The event is being held by the British ambassador to Ireland on behalf of the Queen as a “return event” which the visiting country hosts during State visits.

Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons has said that ‘a state visit by Queen Elizabeth II will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase Ireland to a huge audience of potential holidaymakers across Britain and has the potential to deliver a major boost to Irish tourism in 2011 and beyond’.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has warned British Prime Minister David Cameron that the historic visit by the Queen to Ireland could face a public backlash from some sectors of Irish society.  The Queen will be making her first royal visit to Ireland on the same date on which 33 people were killed in loyalist bombings in Dublin and Monaghan in 1974.  The Taoiseach has said that the vast majority of Irish people will welcome very warmly the Queen to Ireland, but he said he was realistic in expecting that a “small number” of people would protest against the British monarch’s visit.  Gardai are to be given special funding to cover the huge financial costs for the massive security operations that will be needed for the Queen’s visit.

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