Croker chiefs to give queen a cead mile failte
Details of royal visit finally confirmed
QUEEN Elizabeth will mark the first visit to the Irish Republic by a British monarch when she arrives for a four-day visit on May 17.
The queen, who will be accompanied by the duke of Edinburgh, will make a historic visit to GAA headquarters in Croke Park and will be guests at a state dinner in Dublin Castle.
Their visit -- which comes a century after George V and Queen Mary visited pre-independent Ireland -- also coincides with the 37th anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings on May 17, 1974, in which 34 people died.
Justice for the Forgotten, the organisation set up in 1996 to campaign on behalf of the victims, said it would be preparing a "major strategy" to mark the royal visit.
After weeks of speculation, details of the royal visit were finally confirmed last night in a joint statement by Aras an Uachtarain and Buckingham Palace.
British ambassador Julian King described the visit as a "wide-ranging and exciting celebration" of the close ties between the two countries.
"Her majesty and the duke will be able to experience at first hand the vibrant links that make our relationship with Ireland so important," he said. "This is a historic visit that also celebrates our close modern partnership."
The GAA, in a statement, said it was pleased to have been asked to receive Queen Elizabeth and the duke, accompanied by President Mary McAleese, at its headquarters in Croke Park.
For many in the GAA organisation, Croke Park remains hallowed ground because of the events that occurred on the first Bloody Sunday in November 1920 when British auxiliary troops shot 14 people dead.
Extending "a warm welcome to Croke Park -- a cead mile failte -- to Queen Elizabeth and the duke of Edinburgh", the GAA said it was confident that the historic visit to Croke Park would be welcomed by those who played, administered and supported their games.
"We hope also it will encourage a greater interest and participation in our games by our fellow Irishmen and women of the unionist tradition.
"The visit to Croke Park will provide the Uachtaran of Cumann Luthchleas Gael with the opportunity to convey to the queen and the duke a sense of the history and values of the Gaelic Athletic Association."
During her visit, the queen will be welcomed at Aras an Uachtarain by President McAleese and will make a courtesy call to Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Government buildings.
The queen will also visit the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin city centre, the War Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge, Trinity College and the Guinness Storehouse.
Outside Dublin, the visit will include a trip to the Irish National Stud in Kildare as well as Cashel and Co Cork.
Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said the royal visit would be a wonderful opportunity to showcase the island of Ireland.
And the Rebel County vowed last night to give Queen Elizabeth a royal welcome to Cork.