Video: Cork fishmonger reunited with monarch at Irish reception

Cork’s best-known fishmonger, Pat O’Connell, was thinking of his mother as he once again shared a few words with the Queen of England — but this time he was at her pad, namely Buckingham Palace.

Video: Cork fishmonger reunited with monarch at Irish reception

The cheeky Corkman was one of some 350 Irish people invited to a reception hosted by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to recognise the contribution of the Irish to Britain.

Pat said his mother, who set up the family stand at the English Market in Cork City, would have been proud to see her son meet a monarch.

Among the Irish stars present were Bono, Louis Walsh, Ruby Walsh, Orla Kiely, Imelda May, Pauline McLynn, Eddie Jordan, Philip Treacy, and Barry McGuigan.

There were dozens of representatives from support groups set up by earlier generations of Irish emigrants across Britain.

Pat said he was proud to be invited along. “I mean, a trader from the English Market visiting Buckingham Palace — not bad,” he said. “Who would have thought even three years ago that the Queen of England was going to visit Cork or going to visit the English Market or going to visit Ireland. I mean, it was an incredible visit and three years later, to get an invitation to Buckingham Palace, what can you say really? Fantastic.”

Pat brought a book on Cork’s maritime history as a gift to his host.

Meanwhile, Niall Horan of One Direction admitted he got a bit of a surprise when he saw an envelope with the Buckingham Palace royal stamp on it.

“It was a bit: ‘OK what is this about,’ and I got a bit of a shock and here we are three weeks later,” he said. “I am very happy to be here, it is an absolute honour to step inside this building and meet the lady herself. Obviously, when Irish and English people get together it is always a good occasion.”

Irish ambassador to Britain Dan Mulhall called last night a “huge occasion for the Irish community in Britain”.

“It has made a huge contribution to Britain, to Ireland, and to British-Irish relations, and this is a great recognition of the contribution [the guests] have made by her majesty in hosting this event in advance of the state visit,” he said.

Rachel Allen said it was “fantastic” to see the Irish honoured. “It is brilliant, especially just three years after the queen’s visit which was very exciting then, and now this and now President Higgins coming over here, it is very exciting,” she said.

Father Ted creators Alan Mathews and Graham Linehan were frank about why they came.

“If you are a writer and you turn down a chance to get inside walls like these then you would be drummed out of the business,” Linehan laughed.

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