Wednesday 28 September 2016

A visit to 'Cluckingham Palace' and a cúpla focal for Charles and Camilla

Nicola Anderson, Caroline Crawford and Greg Harkin

Published 26/05/2016 | 02:30

Prince Charles and Camilla visit Donegal Castle. Photo: Frank McGrath
Prince Charles and Camilla visit Donegal Castle. Photo: Frank McGrath

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla made a sudden beeline for an elderly and frail lady sitting with a tartan blanket on her lap outside the Olde Castle Bar.

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They recognised her immediately. Philomena Barry (90) had been the housekeeper to his uncle, Lord Mountbatten, in Mullaghmore, Co Sligo.

They had been reunited on the British royals' visit last year - and have continued to keep in touch by post.

"It's such a treat to come back again so soon," Camilla told her. The visit - lower key this time - was billed by the Department of Foreign Affairs as "serving to demonstrate further the normalisation of relations," while offering an opportunity to focus specifically on cross-border co-operation. And it was a success. Again and again, the royal couple were told: "Thank you for coming to Donegal."

At the Diamond in Donegal town, Camilla had to give Charles a discreet but firm poke in the back with her thumb to get him to keep moving forwards and meet the next face shining with welcome. The day started with a trip to Donegal Castle, where children from Gaelscoil na gCeithre Mástrí put on a display of Irish dancing and music.

They were met there by Sean McLoone, manager of the Castle, Minister Joe McHugh and Niall Gibbons of Tourism Ireland - who told Charles he was the head of Irish tourism. "I'm glad someone is," Charles solemnly told him.

Dancers Ellie Ni Choilin (9) and Ailbhe Ni Loughley (11) take a picture of themselves before the visit by Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla to Donegal Castle. Photo: Frank McGrath
Dancers Ellie Ni Choilin (9) and Ailbhe Ni Loughley (11) take a picture of themselves before the visit by Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla to Donegal Castle. Photo: Frank McGrath

There was a trip to McGettigan's butchers shop - where they were offered samples of five different flavours of award-winning sausages. A new variety - black pudding with cured bacon and pear - was devised in Charles's honour, said Diarmuid McGettigan, who now runs the butchers with his brother, Ernan.

Charles inquired if there were "chunks of bacon in it" but opted for the traditional 'European Championship' variety.

Proving she was equal to the example set by her mother-in-law, Camilla spoke in Ulster Irish to the pupils of Ballyraine National School in Letterkenny, asking: "Cad é mar atá sibh?" (How are you?"). She then watched a short musical production of 'Chicken Licken' before moving outside and going into the chicken coop - which had been renamed 'Cluckingham Palace'.

At a civic reception at Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT), the prince praised communities along the Border for leading the way in creating a "peaceful and prosperous life together".

He said the relationship between Britain and Ireland was now better than ever and the relationship between the communities on the island of Ireland had changed fundamentally since the peace agreement of 1998. He said: "I can only applaud the people...for proving it is possible for communities that have been divided for so long to overcome their differences and create a peaceful and prosperous life together."

Irish Independent

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