Charles: ‘I think I’ve left it too late for Irish dancing’

The Prince of Wales has admitted being a Fred Astaire fan and toying with taking up Irish dancing after seeing a special performance on his arrival in Ireland.

Charles, 66, was so impressed by the skills of two energetic performers at the National University of Ireland Galway that he asked if his age would be a barrier to the world-renowned skill.

The Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall were welcomed to the college by dancers Miriam Lee, 22, from Lucan, Co Dublin, and John Fitzgerald, 23, from Brandon village, Co Kerry who presented them with flowers.

“Charles himself asked if it was too late at his age to take up Irish dancing,” Mr Fitzgerald said. “We said absolutely not, you can start at any age.”

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Ms Lee added: “He just gave a chuckle and a smile.”

At the opening engagement of the royal couple’s four-day trip in the west of Ireland they enjoyed a tour of Irish crafts and fare and also saw first-hand some of the work of the university in medical research and the arts.

The prince, quick to set the tone on his arrival, told a crowd of more than 100 invited guests that it was a “very great pleasure” to be in Galway, addressing them with the traditional Irish formality “a dhaoine uaisle”, an equivalent for “ladies and gentlemen”.

“(I) may be too old to learn the steps of the Irish dancing routine,” he said, before adding “having been an admirer of Fred Astaire since I can remember, it would be marvellous if I could.”

He said: “Having first had the privilege of coming to Ireland in 1995 and then again in 2002, each time I have been so overwhelmed and so deeply touched by the extraordinary kindness, the welcome and indeed the fun of being in Ireland.

“Apart from anything else, the chance of plenty of good jokes and laughter make the whole difference to life.”

The prince was also presented with a rose, specially created and named WB Yeats Rose to mark the 150th anniversary of the poet’s birthday. It was given as a special gift for the new royal baby, Charles’ granddaughter Princess Charlotte.

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