Yesterday, The Prince of Wales was joined by The Duchess of Cornwall for the second day of the royal visit to Northern Ireland. The main portion of the day was spent in Omagh, Co. Tyrone, with the heir-to-the-throne and his wife laying a wreath in memory of those who lost their lives in the 1998 Omagh bombing.
The Prince of Wales started his day with a solo engagement at the Omagh Hospital and Community Care Complex. Charles was on hand to officially open the hospital, which actually opened last summer. The new complex now provides patients with a wide range of health services in one convenient location, offering four GP practices, a 24-hour Urgent Care and Treatment centre and community mental health services. The Urgent Care Centre includes a treatment room, x-rays and scans, as well as providing care and assessments for cardiac cases.
The visit also gave Prince Charles the opportunity to spend time with some of the patients currently receiving treatment in the hospital. In addition to chatting with patients, Charles met some of the staff who had cared for many of the casualties of the Omagh Bombing in 1998. The car bomb, carried out by the Real IRA, took the lives of 29 people, including 2 unborn babies.
Before unveiling a commemorative plaque, The Prince of Wales declared: “I have nothing but the greatest admiration for everything that you do here. It is all the result of the most dedicated and devoted teamwork over so many years.”
HRH said a few words before unveiling a plaque to mark the official opening of the complex:
‘I have nothing but the greatest admiration for everything that you do here. It is all the result of the most dedicated and devoted teamwork over so many years.’ #RoyalVisitNI pic.twitter.com/mlWgFHPKhR
— Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) June 13, 2018
The Duchess of Cornwall then joined her husband for his second engagement, a visit to the village of Gortin; Charles and Camilla spent the afternoon at the Gortin Community Centre and Garden, an incredible facility that encompasses seven acres of picturesque property. Encompassing all aspects of rural, Irish village life, the centre includes a 55-bed hostel, a community garden, an outdoor activity centre and, in 2016, they added a Men’s Shed.
The Prince of Wales and his wife were treated to several different experiences, including a visit to the Community Garden, Gaelic football, traditional music, exhibit on biodiversity, viewing some rare sheep, and even an exhibit on natural remedies for animals.
Once inside the Men’s Shed, it was decided that The Prince of Wales should show off his DIY skills by drilling on an ornamental wooden wheelbarrow. As Charles was handed the drill, The Duchess of Cornwall joked: ” I’ll just get out of the way!”, which elicited a chuckle from her husband. Charles appeared quite bemused by the electric drill, laughing as he attempted to use it!
After his woodworking demonstration, Prince Charles and his wife headed outside to enjoy some demonstrations about the environment. He was told that children in the village learn about their environment by taking part in pond dipping and insect hunts. Some beautiful sheep had been brought in especially for the couple’s visit; the heir-to-the-throne was very interested in Selina Beattie’s Valais Blacknose sheep from Switzerland. The Prince commented that he had never seen that breed before and was very keen to ask questions about them.
Once inside the Gortin Community Hall, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall met a number of local business owners who were keen to showcase their unique, local products. One local purveyor, June Cochrane, showed her spinning wheel to Prince Charles and then gifted him with a sash that she had made in the Viking-era style. She explained to Charles how she used tablet weaving to create the sash and that it was something that the Vikings used to wear.Embed from Getty Images
Both Charles and Camilla were quite interested in a local brand of healing remedies made for animals called Mother Bee. The owner of Mother Bee, Cheryl McWilliams, is the fourth generation of her family to make these healing products. She uses her family’s secret recipe which has been handed down through the generations. The first in her family to actually sell the product, Cheryl says that the remedy will heal wounds in weeks, when normally it would take months for them to heal. Cheryl also gifted the royal couple with a few pots of her secret recipe to take home.Embed from Getty Images
After their visit to Gortin, the royal couple then visited the Omagh Memorial Garden, where they laid a beautiful wreath in tribute to the victims of the Omagh Bombing; 2018 marks 20 years since the bombing, which was one of the worst atrocities of The Troubles. Exquisitely crafted, the beautiful wreath consisted of white roses, as well as herbs to signify remembrance, including rosemary, lavender, and thyme, picked from the gardens of Hillsborough Castle.
In addition to visiting the Memorial Garden, Charles and Camilla took time to speak to some of the first responders who had helped in the immediate aftermath of the bombing. The royal couple were also introduced to local business owners whose premises had either been damaged or destroyed during the attack.
Following their visit to the Memorial Garden, Charles and Camilla then went on a walk-about in Omagh town centre. Despite the rain, the royal visitors were greeted by quite a large crowd of well-wishers. Those who had waited in the poor weather to catch a glimpse of the royal couple were not left disappointed, as they took time to chat and shake hands with everyone.
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall then paid a visit to the Strule Art Centre, where they had the chance to meet with some survivors of the bombing, including many who had suffered injuries. They also met families of some of the victims, hearing the impact that the atrocity had on the lives of people in the community.
Following the visit to Northern Ireland, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will now carry out a two-day visit to the Republic of Ireland at the request of the British Government; keep up-to-date with their trip by following The Crown Chronicles on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.