After a 60-year reign monarch finally arrives
QUEEN Elizabeth will mark the first state visit to Ireland by a British monarch when she arrives tomorrow on a four-day visit.
Just short of 60 years after her coronation and after more than 300 international visits, the queen will set foot on Irish soil 100 years after her grandfather George V -- the last British monarch to visit the country.
The start of tomorrow's visit also coincides with the 37th anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, on May 17, 1974, in which 34 people died.
An estimated 10,000 gardai and soldiers have been deployed as part of the massive security operation surrounding the state visit, and there will be widespread traffic restrictions and rolling road closures throughout Dublin.
The queen (85), who will be accompanied by her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, last week became the second-longest reigning British monarch ever, having sat on the throne for more than 59 years.
Only her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria, has reigned longer -- at 63 years and 216 days.
Underscoring the importance of her visit, the queen will be joined during part of her programme not only by British Prime Minister David Cameron, but also by Foreign Secretary William Hague, Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson and by Cabinet Secretary Gus O'Donnell.
The visit has attracted huge media interest, with more than 1,000 journalists, including 120 photographers, accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The queen, accompanied by Prince Philip, arrives at Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel and, following a brief ceremony, will be taken to the Phoenix Park where she will be welcomed to Aras an Uachtarain by President Mary McAleese.
During her stay, the queen will deliver a keynote address at a lavish state dinner in Dublin Castle and will also make an historic visit to Croke Park.
At the 45-minute concert in the National Convention Centre in Dublin, the queen and her guests will be treated to a special rendition of 'Danny Boy' by the combined Methodist College Belfast and Presentation College Cork choirs, accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra.