Sunday 19 November 2017

Queen’s visit has transformed Ireland’s image – Tanaiste

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in the nave of the Cathedral at St Patrick's Rock Cashel, Co.Tipperary, with Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin TD (2nd right) and Aighleann O'Shaughnessy (right). Photo: PA
The Queen tours the Rock of Cashel, during her State Visit. Photo: PA
Queen Elizabeth II leaves after a tour of the Rock of Cashel. Photo: PA
Earlier the Queen and and Duke of Edinburgh (2nd right) arrived by Helicopter. Photo: PA reporters, Colm Kelpie and Tony Jones

Queen Elizabeth's visit has helped rebuild Ireland's reputation abroad, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said today.

After three years of negative coverage about Ireland in the international media, "this was a week in which the stories universally about Ireland all over the world and the coverage about Ireland all over the world was huge," Mr Gilmore said.

"It wasn't just in the English-speaking world. We were getting back reports from our embassies all over the world about the extent of the coverage this visit was getting.” The stories were all positive, he said, about "the sense that here is a country that is doing very well, that is coping with its difficulties. It is a good week for Ireland internationally.”

He praised the people of Dublin for their "forbearance, patience and understanding" during the road closures and traffic delays that accompanied the visit. "Everybody who sat in a car contributed in a very practical way" to the success of the Queen's visit.

Looking forward to the arrival of Barack Obama on Monday, Gilmore joked on RTE’S Morning Ireland that the US president should worry about being upstaged by Jedward, who will perform during a concert in College Green in Dublin.

"There's always a danger even for a huge celebrity president like President Obama that someday he could be upstaged and this [his visit to Dublin] could be a stage too far.”

Meanwhile, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh began the final day of their historic trip to Ireland at one of the country's top historical sites - the Rock of Cashel.

The Queen arrived by helicopter at the County Tipperary site to tour the ruins of medieval churches and the ancient seat of power held by kings as far back as the fourth or fifth centuries.

The royal couple's helicopter landed in a field by Hore Abbey, a 13th century former Benedictine monastery and they travelled by motorcade to nearby St Patrick's Rock.

Amid blustery but bright conditions, the monarch rounded the state visit off in the same fashion it began by wearing bright green, and pulled up at the entrance to St Patrick's in a green-coloured Bentley.

She was met by Brendan Howlin, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, and Dr Eugene Keane, of the Historical Properties Division at the Office of Public Works.

The royal couple were twice applauded by onlookers, and were shown a replica of the 12th century St Patrick's Cross before visiting the cathedral.

The Queen and Duke were told of the conservation work inside the nave of the ancient cathedral by senior conservation architect Aighleann O'Shaughnessy.

The ancient building, which sits imposingly on a hill, has no roof.

The couple were given a description of the significance of the wall paintings while the children of Cashel Community School choir sang the gaelic blessing, May The Road Rise To Meet You.

As the music echoed around the ruins, the Queen was escorted to the 15th century Hall of the Vicars Choral.

Cashel Community school music teacher John Murray said the children were delighted.

"The students are absolutely thrilled to perform for the Queen," he said.

"They never expected to get this honour. Everybody in Cashel and the school are honoured to have the Queen here.

"The piece we chose is a religious one, which is fitting for the setting we're in."

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