April 20, 2015 -- Updated 4:10 pm GMT

Queen Elizabeth II’s Historic State Visit to Ireland

Posted in: United Kingdom

This week saw royal watchers, historians and the Irish diaspora closely watch the first state visit by a British monarch to the Republic of Ireland. Queen Elizabeth II arrived in Dublin on Tuesday to mark warming relations between Great Britain and Ireland after centuries of animosity. For years, there was talk of the Queen making such a visit and it finally materialized.

UK Ireland 300x189 Queen Elizabeth IIs Historic State Visit to Ireland

See more pics from May 17th 2011 here

But not everyone was celebrating. Protests and even a bomb threat occurred throughout the visit as plenty of Irish voiced their disdain over a British head of state setting foot in their country. Security in Dublin was unprecedentedly high and there were dozens of arrests. All this showcased that despite closer ties, Ireland and the UK still have healing to do.

Even so, Queen Elizabeth was welcomed by those who didn’t mind having the British monarch on Irish soil. One of the first things she did was lay a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance with Irish President Mary McAleese, who is credited with making this state visit possible.

“I think it is an extraordinary moment in Irish history, a phenomenal sign and signal of the success of the peace process and absolutely the right moment for us to welcome (the queen) onto Irish soil,” McAleese told RTE television.

The Garden of Remembrance commemorates those who fought for Irish freedom and having the Queen laying a wreath there was a sensitive moment.

She said nothing and didn’t show any emotion when a band played the British and Irish national anthems at the Garden.

Later on, she and husband Prince Philip visited Trinity College, where they met with several students taking a break from finals. The couple also received a tour of the College and saw the Book of Kells, a 9th century Biblical manuscript.

UK Ireland 2 201x300 Queen Elizabeth IIs Historic State Visit to Ireland

See more pics from May 18th 2011 here

Wednesday saw more visits to sensitive but poignant spots. The Queen was shown around Croke Park Stadium, where in 1920, British forces shot dead 14 people.

Later in the evening, during the state dinner, Queen Elizabeth II addressed the pain many Irish feel about British treatment over the decades. Dressed in a white gown with shamrocks sewn on and a golden harp sewn on her left shoulder, she opened her speech in Irish Gaelic: “A hUachtarain agus a chairde” – which means President and friends.

“Together we have much to celebrate: the ties between our people, the shared values, and the economic, business and cultural links that make us so much more than just neighbours, that make us firm friends and equal partners.

“Madam President, speaking here in Dublin Castle it is impossible to ignore the weight of history, as it was yesterday when you and I laid wreaths at the Garden of Remembrance.

“Indeed, so much of this visit reminds us of the complexity of our history, its many layers and traditions, but also the importance of forbearance and conciliation. Of being able to bow to the past, but not be bound by it.”

The Queen went on to mention Northern Ireland and the peace relations since 1998.

“What were once only hopes for the future have now come to pass; it is almost exactly 13 years since the overwhelming majority of people in Ireland and Northern Ireland voted in favour of the agreement signed on Good Friday 1998, paving the way for Northern Ireland to become the exciting and inspirational place that it is today.

“I applaud the work of all those involved in the peace process, and of all those who support and nurture peace, including members of the police, the gardai, and the other emergency services, and those who work in the communities, the churches and charitable bodies like Co-operation Ireland.”

She then talked about the close ties between the two countries, more than the political links as she closed her speech.

“There are other stories written daily across these islands which do not find their voice in solemn pages of history books, or newspaper headlines, but which are at the heart of our shared narrative. Many British families have members who live in this country, as many Irish families have close relatives in the United Kingdom.

“These families share the two islands; they have visited each other and have come home to each other over the years. They are the ordinary people who yearned for the peace and understanding we now have between our two nations and between the communities within those two nations; a living testament to how much in common we have.”

“These ties of family, friendship and affection are our most precious resource. They are the lifeblood of the partnership across these islands, a golden thread that runs through all our joint successes so far, and all we will go on to achieve.

“They are a reminder that we have much to do together to build a future for all our grandchildren: the kind of future our grandparents could only dream of.

“So we celebrate together the widespread spirit of goodwill and deep mutual understanding that has served to make the relationship more harmonious, close as good neighbours should always be.”

During the speech, President McAleese mouthed the word, “wow” several times. The Queen’s speech was praised by many prominent Irish, such as Peter Sheridan, chief executive of the peace-building charity Co-Operation Ireland. “Somehow when you focus on the future that the Queen and the President pointed to, the dark, horrible past takes on a new perspective.”

UK Ireland 3 300x190 Queen Elizabeth IIs Historic State Visit to Ireland

See more pics from May 19th 2011 here

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, who runs the most vocal party in Northern Ireland for independence from Britain, had this to say.

“Queen Elizabeth’s acknowledgment that the relationship between Britain and Ireland has not been entirely benign is a gross understatement. This will be forgiven if the future policy of her government is about building an entirely new future based on genuine equality, and mutual respect.”

The next day, the Queen’s final day of her state visit, saw her in Tully where she visited Ireland’s Horse Valley. There, the Queen and Prince Philip saw up close the best of Irish horses.

In the evening, Her Majesty relaxed a little at the Dublin Convention Center for some music, fashion and theatre. She saw a fashion show, traditional Irish dancing, and some performers by Westlife, the Chieftains and Mary Bryne. When the Queen walked out on stage, she received a standing ovation by the 2,000 guests in the audience.

With her Irish visit done, many could say this was one of the 85 year old monarch’s most poignant engagements ever – and she pulled it off. By speaking Irish, showing sensitivity to the past and hope for the future, Queen Elizabeth II likely built a bridge between Ireland and Great Britain. Hopefully, nothing will destroy what she did this week.

Sources: AFP, Irish Times, Telegraph, RTE




Albert & Charlene Begin State Visit to Ireland

Posted in: Monaco

The Prince of Monaco and his fiancèe began a three day state visit to the Emerald Isle Monday. Prince Albert II and Charlene Wittstock are in Ireland to strengthen links between the two countries. This visit comes 50 years after Albert’s parents – the late Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace – did their tour of Ireland.

Monaco Ireland 300x205 Albert & Charlene Begin State Visit to Ireland

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Upon arriving, the Prince was asked if he had any tips for the Irish Prime Minister – known as the Taoiseach – on the country’s current economic woes.

“I’m not really a good economist myself but we have talked about it and I really wish the Government the best of success through these difficult times,” Prince Albert said.

During the first day of their visit, Albert and Charlene toured the National Museum and Shelbourne Hotel, where a suite is named after Princess Grace.

Charlene’s black tailcoat over a beige pantsuit delighted fashionista’s worldwide. She did so even more during the state dinner at Aras an Uachtarain, the home of President Mary McAleese, when she wore a one shoulder gray dress.

During the dinner, Prince Albert said the state visit was “more like a home-coming than a State visit”. Princess Grace, nèe Grace Kelly, was of Irish descent and was proud of it.

During their Irish tour, Albert and Charlene will attend events in both Dublin and in Galway, a city in the western region, where the Irish language is still spoken. Among the events will be a visit to Trinity College, Dublin’s docklands, and inaugurate an exhibition dedicated to Princess Grace.

After Galway, the Prince and his bride-to-be will go to Newport, in County Mayo, home of his great-grandparents. There, the couple will meet with the Kelly relatives.

Sources: Press Association, Irish Independent, Mayo Advertiser


Irish President Lunches With Spanish Royals

Posted in: Spain

Ireland Spain 300x216 Irish President Lunches With Spanish Royals

REUTERS/Andrea Comas

The President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, made her first official visit to Spain Monday. She is there to solidify ties between the two countries.

The Spanish royal family welcomed Mrs. McAleese and her husband, Martin, at Zarzuela Palace. After posing for the media, the royals and the Irish couple had lunch together.

With Spain being Ireland’s eighth-largest trading partner, its President is keen to stress that the Irish economy is “open for business” during her visit.

Both Spain and Ireland were hit hard during the global economic downturn. Spain is experiencing 20 percent unemployment while Irish banks needed to be bailed out.

Source: Irish Times


Queen Margrethe II Plays Host to Irish President

Posted in: Denmark

Ireland Denmark 300x199 Queen Margrethe II Plays Host to Irish President


The President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, is on a three day official visit to Denmark. The trip began Monday, with the President meeting with Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen before having dinner with Queen Margrethe II at Fredensborg Palace.

McAleese is in the Nordic country to highlight trade and business opportunities for Irish companies, particularly in the renewable energies and tourism sectors. Denmark is one of the world’s leaders in renewable energy.

At the same time, the Irish President is looking to strengthen ties with Denmark, even though those links are already as tight as drums. During the medieval period, Danish Vikings raided Ireland and eventually made settlements along the Irish coastline, particularly one that became Dublin, the capital of Ireland.

Source: RTE

Princess Mako Returns from Ireland

Posted in: Japan

Princess Mako 190x300 Princess Mako Returns from Ireland


The eldest grandchild of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko returned from a six week stay in Ireland Saturday. Princess Mako, daughter of Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko, was in the Emerald Isle to work on her English.

According to the Irish Times, Mako also studied 20th-century Irish literature, drama and Irish history at the University College of Dublin.

As part of her time in the country, the 18 year-old Princess visited such places as Glendalough, Newgrange, Dingle, Killarney and Belfast.

She also learned how to use a hurley and sliotar during a visit to Croke Park.

Tatsuo Kitagawa, Japan’s first secretary in Ireland, said: “We are very proud that Princess Mako came to study in Dublin.

“We understand that the Princess very much enjoyed her life in Ireland, especially the good hospitality. She appreciates the opportunity from Irish people to study here.”

Princess Mako began her studies at Tokyo’s International Christian University this year.

Source: Irish Times

Luxembourg’s Grand Ducal Family Welcomes Irish President

Posted in: Luxembourg

Tuesday began Ireland’s President Mary McAleese’s state visit to Luxembourg. The grand duchy’s family played host to Mrs. McAleese, who is the first Irish leader to make such a visit to the micro-state.

Luxembourg Ireland 300x203 Luxembourgs Grand Ducal Family Welcomes Irish President

REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Grand Duke Henri and his son and heir, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume, welcomed the Irish President in the morning. The national anthems of both countries during the official ceremony, and Henri and McAleese reviewed the troops. The two also laid a floral wreath at the Monument of Luxembourg.

Afterward came the President’s meeting with Luxembourg’s politicians, including Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies.

In the evening, there was a state banquet in McAleese’s honor.

Tomorrow, Mrs. McAleese will visit a monastery, discuss Ireland’s relationship with the European Union at an abbey, and then have lunch with Juncker. A meeting with Irish nationals living in this tiny country will tale place, and then the President would head back to the Emerald Isle.

This event also marks Grand Duchess Maria Teresa’s first engagement since her surgery last month. She was not expected to make many appearances, and it is uncertain if she was at the state banquet.