Wednesday 16 August 2017

Monarch urged to reconsider itinerary

Ralph Riegel, Majella O'Sullivan and Anne-Marie Walsh

TOURISM chiefs have not given up hope that Queen Elizabeth II will travel beyond the capital during her upcoming visit.

Despite reports that the British monarch will confine her visit to Dublin for security reasons, industry officials said they would continue to press for an extension of the royal itinerary in the hope of boosting tourist numbers.

Kerry councillor and trustee of Muckross House Michael Gleeson said Killarney Town Council would persist with talks with the British ambassador in advance of the May visit, which will be the first by a reigning British monarch to Ireland in 100 years.

"Where she visits would be a decision for the joint security parties in Dublin and the UK, but I would expect that if she can be safeguarded properly in Dublin that she can be in Killarney," he said.

He said Killarney should be considered because the visit would mark the 150th anniversary of her ancestor Queen Victoria's visit there in 1861, which helped launch the town as a tourist destination.

As hoteliers struggle with falling numbers and plummeting revenue, British Airways boss Willie Walsh fuelled excitement at the weekend when he said the visit would herald a tourism bonanza by putting Ireland in the spotlight for millions of potential UK visitors.

But news that the monarch would confine her visit -- which comes hot on the heels of her grandson Prince William's April wedding -- to Dublin was met with widespread disappointment.

"Obviously, we're very disappointed but I think Kerry people will welcome the fact that she's visiting Ireland as a normalisation of the relationship between two equal nations," said Michael Rosney, national vice president of the Irish Hotels Federation and owner of Killeen House Hotel in Killarney.

Beneficial

"It would have been incredibly beneficial to the rural economy in Ireland but particularly for Kerry tourism.

"It would have been worth 10 years of the combined spend on marketing and advertising to have a picture of the queen at Ladies' View."

Along with Killarney, Cork and Waterford are also vying for inclusion on the queen's schedule because of their strong historical links with the royals.

Cork hosted Queen Victoria in 1849 and also boasts links to other royals including King Edward VII, who berthed his ship, 'The Victoria and Albert', off Cobh in 1903.

Princess Diana had ancestral links to Fermoy in Co Cork and the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, was a frequent visitor to the county in the 1990s while training in showjumping.

Waterford also has a strong claim for inclusion on the royal itinerary as Lismore Castle is owned by Prince Charles' good friend, the Duke of Devonshire.

The Taoiseach began the process of inviting the queen here when he met British prime minister David Cameron in Downing Street last June.

President Mary McAleese will host the monarch during the visit, which will range from 48 hours to three days.

The queen is likely to be based at Farmleigh in the Phoenix Park and is expected to make a speech at Dublin Castle on relations between Britain and Ireland.

The last visit by a reigning monarch to Ireland was King George V's trip to Dublin in 1911 as part of his coronation tour.

Irish Independent

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