Charles hails ‘remarkable’ Kerry as he finally visits the Kingdom

Update 4.50pm: The Prince of Wales hailed his visit to Kerry as remarkable after fulfilling a long-time ambition to see the scenic Kingdom.

Charles expressed his delight as he and Camilla were treated to some traditional Irish music and art at the National Folk Theatre in Tralee.

Outside the Siamsa Tire theatre, the design of which is inspired by the ancient Ring Forts of Kerry, the heir to the throne was asked how he had enjoyed the county.

Camilla rides in a jaunting car as she arrives for a visit to Muckross House in Co Kerry (Brian Lawless/PA)

“Remarkable,” he replied.

“At last I got a chance to see Kerry.”

Earlier, schoolchildren lined the path leading to the landmark building, with Charles and Camilla stopping to say hello as they made their way inside.

The name of the theatre, Siamsa Tire, means rural merriment or fun.

The company is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its summer performance seasons in 2018.

The royals were welcomed with a performance from the theatre’s choir and then watched dancers rehearse a performance of the hard-shoe style of Munnix, which is unique to the north Kerry area.

They moved to the main auditorium to see a reprise of the first performance from 50 years ago, a dramatisation of rural life in Ireland called Fado Fado.

Around 37,000 visitors pack the 350-seat theatre between May and September every year.

Charles and Camilla meet performers during their visit to the Siamse Tire National Folk Theatre of Ireland (Steve Parsons/PA)

After the show the couple were presented with a piece of slate from Valentia Island off the Kerry coast,the same material used to roof the Palace of Westminster.

They were also given bodhran drums.

The theatre’s artistic director Jonathan Kelliher said everyone had been really looking forward to the royal visit.

“There has been a buzz around here for weeks now with anticipation and we are so delighted it went so well,” he said.

“I think the prince and duchess were blown away by what they saw.”

Mr Kelliher, a talented dancer himself, joined in one of the routines put on for the royal couple.

“The prince was even saying he might be a bit too old to take up dancing himself, but he’d like to try it,” he joked.

Among those introduced to the royal couple during their tour was 93-year-old Kathleen O’Shea, who served in the British Army for almost 30 years, including during the Second World War.

“During the war years the Queen served in the ATS, the Auxiliary Territorial Service, and I served in that as well,” she said.

The pensioner from Tralee, who wore her medals for the occasion, said she was delighted to meet Charles and Camilla.

“It was very pleasant,” she said.

Mayor of Kerry John Sheahan said: “Today is the kind of day we have been waiting for for a long, long time.

“It’s an absolutely massive lift to the county.

“I think we’ll see a lot of English people coming here now because of the exposure and the reception they have received.

“There has been no stone unturned to do the very best. When this is televised in England it will do only good things, it’ll be very helpful for Ireland.

“It is the first time I have met royalty so I am embracing that moment.”

Before departing for their next engagement, Charles stopped outside the theatre to be shown some local food produce and to tour a nearby biodiversity area.

- Press Association

Update 3.40pm: Charles and Camilla join schoolchildren clearing up plastic waste on Derrynane beach

The Duchess of Cornwall kicked off her shoes and felt the sand beneath her feet when she joined the Prince of Wales on a Kerry beach to highlight the scourge of plastic pollution.

Camilla quickly removed her 2in heels when the couple walked onto Derrynane beach to hear about the work of local schoolchildren collecting waste from the shore.

The Duchess of Cornwall walks barefoot on Derrynane beach (Niall Carson/PA)

Charles told his wife “you’ll get sand in your shoes” when she later slipped them back on her stocking feet.

Before getting into a helicopter, which had brought the royals to the stunning south-west Irish coastline, she could be seen shaking the sand from her footwear.

Camilla and Charles underneath a portrait of Daniel O’Connell (Niall Carson/PA)

Nearby was the home of the celebrated 19th century campaigner Daniel O’Connell, who had championed Catholic emancipation and was a leading figure in the fight to abolish slavery.

The heir to his throne and his wife toured the mansion and met descendants of the lawyer and statesman whose beliefs have influenced successive world figures.

A stuffed eagle was one of the more peculiar sights in Derrynane House in Co Kerry (Niall Carson/PA)

Rickard O’Connell, the campaigner’s great-great-great-grandson, said about the royal visit: “It means an awful lot. There have been periods when his legacy wasn’t as recognised or kept alive through different periods but I think more and more there’s a real recognition how relevant he is today.

“Things like anti-slavery, universal rights, talking about the suffrage movement celebrating their hundred years recently, he was one of the early proponents of a lot of those movements.

The royal couple pass a pair of musicians (Niall Carson/PA)

“The peaceful element was critically what he was about.”

The beach-combing event featuring the schoolchildren was organised by Sea Synergy, a marine awareness body. It had collected an array of plastic objects from flip-flops and bottles to a salad pot from Macedonia, which they showed to the royals.

The royal couple and Irish government minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran meet local schoolchildren taking part in a project to clear up about plastic pollution (Niall Carson/PA)

Charles and Camilla later went on a short walk across the sands and enjoyed the views across the small cove.

Sea Synergy founder Lucy Hunt said about Charles: “He said everywhere he goes he sees plastic and spends his life picking up plastic.

“He praised the work we do and said there needs to be more awareness.”

- Press Association

Earlier: Charles and Camilla head for Kerry as royal visit continues

Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla will continue their trip to Ireland today with a visit to Co Kerry.

They will travel to Tralee and Killarney and also visit Derrynane House, the ancestral home of Daniel O'Connell.

The Royal Couple were given a warm welcome in Cork yesterday when they visited the English Market, City Hall and the Crawford Gallery for a special dinner last night.

In the market, Prince Charles told market fishmonger Pat O’Connell, a dab hand at royal visits, that his mother (Queen Elizabeth) had warned him he had to stop by, before he helped them cut a cake to celebrate the market’s 230th birthday.

In UCC, the Prince was presented with the sheet music to a specially commissioned piece of harp music.

Disability rights campaigner, Joanne O’Riordan beeped the horn of her wheelchair during a conversation about the technology she uses, and Young Scientist winner, Simon Meehan, talked the Prince through his project.

His security detail broke into a slight sweat when he stepped into the Famine hut, built on campus, and spent more time inside and out of sight, than they expected. Or were comfortable with.

He emerged finally into the sunlight and declared: “I’m impressed how somebody could make such a structure.”

And just as his mother did during her visit to Ireland in 2011, Prince Charles raised a toast ‘as gaeilge’ last night at the start of a meal loaded with symbolism, yet seasoned with a hint of sadness.

The memory of Irish food champion, Myrtle Allen, who died on Tuesday, aged 94, loomed large in the Crawford Gallery as 60 VIP guests dined in its Long Room.

Many of those who prepared the meal work at Ballymaloe. Many of those who served the meal are related to her. The menu was hand-drawn by Mrs Allen’s grand-daughter, Lydia Hugh-Jones.

The six-course meal featured Ardsallagh goat’s cheese, with local honey and rocket leaves, poached wild Blackwater salmon with garden peas, chervil and hollandaise sauce, roast rack and leg of East Cork lamb, with sweet marjoram and Shanagarry baby carrots with a salad of leaves from the Ballymaloe garden and Ballycotton new potatoes, following by deserts including strawberry and elderberry jelly, with crushed strawberries and cream, with elderflower granita, and pistachio langues de chat, and a plate of Cork farmhouse cheeses from the market.

Prince Charles also had a private meeting with the Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald.

- Eoin English, with additional reporting from Digital Desk


Related Articles

New friendship - Royal visit

Watch: Garda removes bikes from outside restaurant where Harry and Meghan enjoy lunch

Harry and Meghan mobbed by well-wishers in Dublin

Amy Huberman had the best reaction to meeting Prince Harry in Dublin

More in this Section

14 Labour councillors request 'urgent meeting' with Brendan Howlin

Stage set for Pope’s visit to Ireland

High Court challenge launched over choice of new Garda Commissioner

Gardaí appeal for witnesses following fatal Kildare crash


More From The Irish Examiner