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Friday 23 March 2018

'God Save The King' -- five years before 1916

Kevin Keane

DUBLIN in 1911 and the national anthem welcomes the king and queen to Ireland.

But the anthem that was played as the Royal couple were brought ashore to Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) harbour was not 'Amhran na bhFiann' but 'God Save The King'.

Ireland was still very much part of the British Empire 100 years ago -- the last time a reigning British monarch visited the capital.

Union Jacks

The country encountered by the royals was a very different place to the one that will welcome Queen Elizabeth next week.

Union Jacks and garlands of flowers were hung out for the royal couple as they made their way in to Dublin.

Pictures from the time show King George and Queen Mary travelled to many of their engagements by horse-drawn carriage -- the recently invented motorcar was still a rarity on the streets of the capital.

Security too was different. Despite the burgeoning nationalist movement that would erupt in violence less than five years later with the Easter Rising, photographs from the visit show nothing like the levels of protection that Queen Elizabeth will enjoy on her trip to Ireland.

But some of the scenes from the last royal trip are instantly recognisable.

The background of our photograph of primly dressed ladies in the Phoenix Park shows the same wide expanse of semi-wilderness that visitors enjoy today.

The women, dressed in hats, ankle-length dresses and long-sleeved blouses were forced to endure "tropical temperatures" in order to catch a glimpse of the royals.

Next week, the outfits and the welcome will be quite different. But hopefully we might see a repeat of the weather.

Irish Independent

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