DAY 4: Rock of Cashel, the English Market & an impromptu walkabout in Cork
The fourth and final day of the Queen’s visit to Ireland saw her visit the Rock of Cashel near Tipperary and the English Market in Cork. The finishing touch to the successful trip was a spur of the moment walkabout as 25,000 people lined the streets of Cork. The impromptu meet-and-greet took place despite a massive security operation involving thousands of police and armed soldiers. Her Majesty undoubtedly charmed the Irish people.
The visit has been declared a triumph both for diplomacy and the monarchy.
DAY 3: Her Majesty’s Passion: Horses!
Shifting down a gear from the ceremony and symbolism of the past 2 days, Queen Elizabeth spent an afternoon in the heartland of Irish horse-racing on Thursday.
Her visit to Ireland’s National Stud, the birthplace of some of the world’s finest thoroughbreds, allowed the queen and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, to indulge their love of horses and strike a lighter tone on the third day of her four-day visit.
That night, the Queen and the Duke attended a showcase of the Best of Ireland at the Convention Centre, with Westlife, the Chieftains and Riverdance!
DAY 2: Croke Park and a memorable state banquet speech
The second day of the Queen’s four-day visit to Ireland, the first by a British monarch in 100 years, saw Her Majesty visit Croke Park, the scene of a massacre by British troops in 1920.
In the evening, she acknowledged the ‘sad and regrettable’ history between Britain and Ireland in what was arguably one of the most politically significant speeches of her 59-year reign.
Speaking at a state banquet to celebrate her visit to the Irish Republic, the Queen said: “Of course the relationship has not always been straightforward; nor has the record over the centuries been entirely benign. It is a sad and regrettable reality that through our history our islands have experienced more than their fair share of heartache, turbulence and loss. These events have touched many of us personally and are a painful legacy. We can never forget those who have died or been injured and their families. To all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past I extend my sincere thoughts and deep sympathy.With the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently or not at all.”
Day 1: Bomb threats, President’s welcome, Garden of Remembrance, Trinity College…
The first day of this historic trip saw Her Majesty honour those who died fighting for freedom from British rule. Dressed in symbolic emerald green, the Queen followed in the footsteps of her grandfather King George V, who in 1911 was the last British monarch to visit Ireland.
More than 10,000 officers and soldiers joined 120 Metropolitan royal protection police for the £26million operation. Earlier bomb scares threatened to hamper the visit, but everything went on as planned.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were welcomed by Ireland’s President Mary McAleese. They were driven in a bombproof and bulletproof car to Aras an Uachtarain – the official residence of the Irish President. Her Majesty then planted an Irish oak and signed the visitors’ book.
Following dinner, which included roast turbot and ice cream with rhubarb, the Queen moved on to visit the Garden of Remembrance which honours those who died fighting the British for Irish independence. She was later cheered by staff and students as she visited Trinity College – founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592.
In the streets, officers clashed with around 200 protesters. Streets were closed to traffic in Dublin. But ex-Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen, who invited the Queen last year, said: “The vast, vast majority of the people of Ireland wanted to see this day come.”