Friday 24 March 2017

Laughing queen to get iconic photo as memento

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

IT was an impromptu joke that earned a warm smile from Queen Elizabeth.

But the iconic photograph of fishmonger Pat O'Connell laughing in front of the amused monarch in Cork's English Market is now to be formally presented to the British sovereign as a memento of her historic Irish visit.

British ambassador Julian King has organised for a framed copy of the photo -- taken by Kerry-based photographer Valerie O'Sullivan and signed by Mr O'Connell -- to be given to the queen as a present.

This follows the monarch's private admission to friends that she was thrilled with the success of her Irish visit -- and felt the more relaxed Cork leg of the journey, where she was warmly applauded by large crowds, was one of her personal highlights.

During her tour of the 18th century English Market, the fishmonger told the queen he hadn't been as nervous since his wedding day.

The queen immediately grinned, providing one of the outstanding images of the first visit to Ireland by a British monarch in 100 years.

The British ambassador recently called in person to Mr O'Connell's fish stall to ask him to sign the picture.

"I was delighted . . . I'd love to think it might be hanging somewhere in Buckingham Palace, but I didn't think to ask," Mr O'Connell said.

The queen's visit has proved a godsend for market traders with visitor numbers up by 40pc this year on 2010.

Irish Independent

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