Freedom to roam on last day as rebels roll out welcome mat
THE Rebels became Royals as Cork rolled out a remarkable welcome yesterday for Queen Elizabeth.
Almost 30,000 people packed the city centre to cheer on the royal party.
In contrast, just over 200 people attended a Sinn Fein counter-event on Sullivan's Quay, some 200 metres from the royal route.
Such was the festive atmosphere and warm welcome accorded the royal party that the queen, with the sanction of her security handlers, decided to undertake an impromptu city centre walkabout.
After she had toured the nearby English Market, she emerged on to the Grand Parade and greeted the waiting crowds -- and even stood to allow herself to be photographed.
It was in contrast to the small crowds that greeted the queen in Dublin due to the tight security arrangements.
Among those lucky enough to greet the queen were athletes from the Leeside Legends Special Olympics Club.
The royal route -- from the South Mall to the Grand Parade and on to Washington Street -- was thronged.
Even gardai were astounded to see Union Jack flags being waved enthusiastically and a giant royal standard was draped over security barriers on the South Mall.
At Daunt Square -- which offered the public the best view of the royal motorcade -- thousands had gathered several hours before the queen's intended arrival.
Cork City Council hailed the day -- and the decision to turn the queen's visit into a city centre festival complete with music, food and street entertainers -- as "an outstanding success".
"This is exactly the image of the city we wanted people to see. It has been a success beyond our dreams," Lord Mayor Michael O'Connell said.
Gardai similarly hailed their policing operation as an outstanding success, with almost 2,000 officers ensuring the royal visit went off smoothly and without incident.
They indicated that only a handful of arrests were made for public order incidents and none were of a serious nature.
Gardai also said they were delighted with traffic arrangements, with the public largely adhering to the advice to leave their cars at home and use public transport.