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Sunday 17 November 2019

Where's balladeering Brian when you need him?

At times the atmosphere seemed as stiff as a royal gin 'n' tonic after an off-colour episode of 'EastEnders', but at least everything on the second day of the visit ran smoothly.

In Government Buildings in the morning, Enda Kenny and his wife Fionnuala sat awkwardly with the queen next to an empty ornate fireplace.

Several onlookers wondered why nobody had thought it fitting to throw on a couple of peat briquettes, and pass around a decanter of Jameson.

It was at stilted times like this that we needed Enda Kenny's balladeering predecessor Brian Cowen to step in to strike up a rousing rendition of The Lakes of Ponchartrain, possibly followed by a little dance around the floor with Prince Philip.

The visiting royal media can just about handle the idea of an Irish presidency. But even after 90 years they are still apparently coming to terms with that whole Taoiseach business. By God, how do you pronounce it?

As the man from the 'Daily Telegraph' put it: "I think it's something like 'teeshock', but the 'ch' is soft.''

One was reminded of the occasion when the not very Irish Irish football international Tony Cascarino came away from a meeting with the then Taoiseach Charles Haughey and remarked to a teammate: "I don't know who he is. I think he said he runs a tea shop.''

The queen and Prince Philip seemed a touch more relaxed later at Croke Park, where he received a sporting implement that was immediately dubbed "Liz's Hurley''.

Among the waiting luminaries was Joe Sheridan, the Meath player who scored a highly controversial goal against Louth in the stadium last year. A rumour spread via Twitter that both the queen and Sheridan were at Croker "to apologise for past atrocities'' -- but it never happened.

Other reports, relayed by Patrick Kielty, that Her Majesty would lay a wreath at the ground to mark the massacre of the English rugby team there four years ago also proved, sadly, to be unfounded.

Of course everyone, with the possible exception of the monarch herself, waited and hoped for Prince Philip to make one of his familiar gaffes during the day.

Some thought he put his foot in it when he asked whether Guinness came from Liffey water.

That familiar query is surely small beer, however, when compared to the occasion some years ago when he enquired of an Aboriginal businessman: "Do you still throw spears at each other?''

Irish Independent

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