Speculation rife over queen’s possible visit to tourist town

WILL she, or won’t she?

Speculation that Britain’s Queen Elizabeth may include Killarney in her state visit next year has been heightened by a planned visit by the British ambassador to the tourist haven next week.

Whilst ostensibly in Killarney for the 3 Irish Open Golf Championship, Julian King will also visit Muckross House on the invitation of the house trustees.

Ambassadors and other VIPS generally call to Muckross House privately but Mr King has decided to meet the local media on Thursday — and it is this decision that is fuelling speculation.

Undoubtedly, the first question he will be asked will be: “Is Killarney on the itinerary for the monarch’s visit?”

And, while a straight answer is not expected, much will be read into the nuances and tone of his reply. Could he be on a checking out trip?

The queen has had an open invite to “Heaven’s Reflex” for years.

And Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin has already endorsed a promised céad míle fáilte from Killarney’s multi-million-euro tourism industry to the queen.

Her ancestor, Queen Victoria, visited the area 149 years ago and it was that four-day visit, in 1861, and the massive publicity it generated that helped launch Killarney as an international tourist destination.

The queen spent two nights as guest of the landlord Herbert family in Muckross House — seen as a private part of her state visit at the time — and two nights in Killarney House with Lord Kenmare as host.

Muckross House chief executive Pat Dawson yesterday said they were “not talking up” the ambassador’s visit, but would be making a case for including the house in the itinerary for the royal visit.

“The ambassador has had long-standing invitation to come to the house and this happens to coincide with his visit to the golf championship,” he pointed out.

“I don’t think people should make too much more of it than that.

“But, at the same time, we’re keeping our fingers crossed and you never know what will happen.

“We’ll be saying to the ambassador that it would be great if the queen came to Killarney and would appreciate if he put in good word for us.

“We’ll certainly be showcasing the best Killarney has to offer,” Mr Dawson went on.

It is expected that the queen’s visit will be focussed mainly on Dublin, where she will be hosted by President Mary McAleese, and if the itinerary covers one day only, she may not leave the capital.

But, in the event of a longer stay here, the feeling is that the she may well go to some place like Killarney.

Killarney’s claim is being enhanced by the fact that Queen Victoria’s visit to the area was in August 1861 and Queen Elizabeth is due in Ireland in August 2011.


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