Queen Elizabeth is back in Ireland... but only in an exhibition to mark the first anniversary of last year’s historic, royal visit by the British monarch.
Diehard republicans and anti-royalists can rest easy about the prospect of another massive security crackdown as the British ambassador, Dominick Chilcott, confirmed there were no other visits being planned to Ireland by members of the Windsor family, despite the success of last year’s visit.
The exhibition, which is free of charge, will run in Dublin Castle for at least a week. However, an OPW spokesperson said it could be extended indefinitely based on the level of interest shown by the public.
It is planned to tour the exhibition to other OPW sites around the country including Kilkenny Castle.
It features photo and video montages of the queen’s visits to sites such as the Garden of Remembrance, the War Memorial Garden, and Áras an Uachtaráin, as well as displays including the visitors’ book at Dublin Castle signed by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, an Irish-language guide prepared for the queen, and a copy of the menu for the state banquet hosted in her honour.
However, famous pictures of the queen’s visit to Cork’s English Market and the National Stud in Kildare won’t feature as the exhibition is restricted to images taken at OPW sites.
Mr Hayes said Dublin Castle was chosen as the venue for the exhibit as it hosted the meal at which the queen spoke the famous words: “a hUachtaráin agus a chairde”.
He also observed the spin-off which the visit generated for Irish tourism and how it had pushed “a lot of bad news” off the headlines for a week.
Mr Chilcott said the visit, which he had watched on TV, was something which was “genuinely historic and transformatory”. “It was a huge visit for people in Britain,” he said.
Mr Chilcott said its impact was still felt one year on as Anglo-Irish relations were never better. He claimed the exhibition would prove a very worthy souvenir for people who had enjoyed the original event.
Also attending yesterday’s launch was the choir from Cashel Community School, who reprised their highly-praised version of ‘May the Road Rise to Meet You’ which they sang for Queen Elizabeth during her visit to the Rock of Cashel.
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