From one kingdom to another, the Prince of Wales hailed his visit to Kerry yesterday as “remarkable”, after fulfilling a long-time ambition to see what is considered to be Ireland’s most beautiful county.
“At last I got a chance to see Kerry,” he said, as he finished up the British royal couple’s tour of Ireland in Killarney, a part of Ireland made famous by his great-great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria.
Earlier, Charles expressed his delight as he and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, were treated to traditional Irish music and art at the National Folk Theatre in Tralee.
After the show, they were presented with bodhráns and a piece of slate from Valentia Island, the same material used to roof the Palace of Westminster.
The theatre’s artistic director, Jonathan 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,” joked Jonathan.
The British royal couple also visited the home of Daniel O’Connell in Derrynane, where they met Rickard O’Connell, the Liberator’s great-great-great-grandson, who said the visit meant a lot to him.
Earlier, the Duchess of Cornwall kicked off her shoes and felt the sand beneath her feet when she joined Charles on Derrynane beach to highlight the scourge of plastic pollution.
Camilla quickly removed her 2in heels when the couple walked along the beach to hear about the work of local schoolchildren collecting waste from the shore.
During his visit to Killarney, Charles twisted a súgan in Muckross, examined the visitors’ book signed by his great-great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria, at Muckross House, listened rapt to an O’Carolan concerto on a stone flagged floor, and warmly shook hands with Sinn Féin TD and former Republican prisoner Martin Ferris.
Mr Ferris was among 150 people invited to a garden party at Killarney House. The media were kept at a distance from the main assembly. However, the Prince spoke to Mr Ferris for up to two minutes.
“He and I and others are on a journey for peace and reconciliation, “ Mr Ferris said afterwards.
Killarney National park was closed and around 400 gardaí were on duty when the British royals arrived, around 40 minutes behind schedule to the State-owned Muckross House which had hosted Queen Victoria, her husband Prince Albert, and three of their children in late August 1861.
Charles admired a brooch Queen Victoria had presented to the Herbert family, whose home it then was, and was shown the rare, ornate Killarney inlaid furniture of yew and arbutus, some of which is also in Kensington Palace.
After the short tour of the house, he walked in the garden and even directed the two dozen photographers on the lawn with their backs to the lake.
“You really want that view,” he said, stepping onto the lawn so the mountain and lakes could act as a backdrop.
Camilla got a ride in a Killarney jaunting car, with jarvey Patrick Murhill and his white horse Rocky to an old school house where the children of Loughquittane NS, the local school, delighted her with song and music.
More than the stately Elizabethan-style mansion of Muckross House, it was the traditional farms which seemed to capture the royal couple’s attention most.
Charles lingered over the traditional hay rope furniture made by craftsman Pat Broderick. He asked to have a go at twisting a súgán, the hay rope used for chair-making. Camilla asked to try one of the chairs and, after an exhausting day, pronounced the chair “very comfortable”.
“It’s nice, really wonderful,” she said, as she sat perfectly poised and smiled at the photographers.
Charles said the súgán chair seemed perfect — though “not if you have hay fever, I suppose”, he joked.
In the darkening sky and with a cold breeze coming up from the lake, the British royals were each invested into the Order of Inisfallen by mayor of Killarney councillor Niall Kelleher.
This was a unique order, called after the monastic Killarney island a short distance away on which the medieval annals of Inisfallen, had been written. The annals are now at the Bodleian library in Oxford.
Minister for Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan welcomed the royals to the county “referred to as the Kingdom”,
The county was “remarkable” said Charles, adding that he had been waiting to see it for some time.
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