Britain’s Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, were so taken with the farms that they stayed over the allotted time during a tightly scheduled visit to Kerry on Friday.
When the Prince’s great-great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria visited Killarney almost 160 years ago, she went back to Kensington Palace with highly polished furniture inlaid with yew pictures of Killarney scenes which had been made in a local furniture school.
Some of that furniture so admired by Victoria is still to be seen in Muckross House and Kensington Palace.
The royals last weekend seemed more taken with the simple straw-made furniture display by west Limerick man Pat Broderick in the Muckross farms.
Charles asked to join in the súgán or traditional straw-rope-making by Mr Borderick in front of the largest farmhouse. He took so long that officials approached farm manager Toddy Doyle to try to hurry him along.
Camilla sat on a traditional chair and pronounced them very comfortable and “wonderful”.
Charles joked that “you wouldn’t want hay fever”, spending longer than scheduled examining the mats and other items. He was presented with two harvest knots — love knots in the shape of hearts made from the straw. Those left with him in his car.
Mr Doyle said the visit and the royal couple’s obvious interest in the farms, was a great boost, given the farms are celebrating 25 years just this week.
Prince Charles was very taken with the straw. I explained how straw now is much shorter and it is difficult to get the long straw necessary for furniture making. We have had to send for seeds to Devon,” said Mr Doyle.
As well as chairs, Charles was looking for a basket to put eggs in.
Meanwhile, a meeting of Kerry County Council in Tralee has been asked for the cost of the visit.
Sinn Féin councillor Toireasa Ferris said there was no criticism implicit in her request for this information.
However, just as she asked for the cost of renovations of the council chambers, she sought the cost of the visit to the council.
Chief executive Moria Murrell insists no services would suffer through the visit.
Works on national roads ahead of the visit had already been approved by Transport Infrastructure Ireland and any extra work done was “done around the edges”.