Yesterday began The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall’s two-day visit to Ireland. The visit followed their mini-tour of Northern Ireland at the beginning of the week.
Their Royal Highnesses began the day at Cork City Hall, where they were hosted by the Lord Mayor. Prince Charles spoke to the audience: “Coming to Cork, with its proud history as a great maritime and trading city, gives us an opportunity to celebrate the strength of the economic and commercial relationship between our two countries, which makes such a profound difference to us both.”
Following this, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall visited the English Market in Cork City.
The English Market is celebrating its 230th anniversary this year; to commemorate this, Their Royal Highnesses cut a celebratory cake. The couple were treated to a range of gifts to take away with them, including a large hamper of Irish smoked salmon, cheeses and relish.
The Prince of Wales was impressed to discover that two wild salmon at the fishmongers were caught in the river Lee, which is located just a few metres from the market itself. Charles joked of his “regret” that he had eaten too large a breakfast to be able to try all the stall’s delicacies.
Prince Charles and Camilla then met with Pat O’Connell, a fishmonger who met The Queen when she visited the market in 2011. After the meeting, Pat said he had been told by Charles that his mother said that he “had to meet him.”
Afterwards, The Prince of Wales visited University College Cork (UCC), where he met students and faculty. UCC had commissioned a new musical harp piece to mark the occasion; ‘Planxty Prince Charles’ was composed by UCC music graduate Dr Fiachra Ó Corragáin, who performed the piece for the Prince during the visit.
Prince Charles then viewed historical treasures from UCC’s collection. These included the Cork limestone statute of Queen Victoria, which was commissioned in 1849, and The Great Book of Ireland – a vellum manuscript which contained the handwritten work of 9 composers, 121 artists and 143 poets.
Later in the day, The Prince of Wales visited the National Maritime College of Ireland and boarded an Irish Navy Service vessel. This engagement was an opportunity to showcase the close maritime links between Britain and the Republic of Ireland to celebrate their important strategic defence relationship.
Later in the day, the future King boarded the LÉ William Butler Years ship, where he was brief on the Irish Naval Service’s involvement in recusing migrants in the Mediterranean. The ship embarked on a 3-month deployment in the Mediterranean last year at the height of the European migrant crisis. The crews of the Irish vessels have rescued over 14,000 people who were attempting to make the crossing to Europe from North Africa and the Middle East.
The Prince of Wales also watched life-saving training by naval officers in the swimming pool.
In the meantime, The Duchess of Cornwall visited a local refuge, which serves women and children who have suffered domestic violence, a cause that Her Royal Highness has worked to highlight in the UK and overseas.
A highlight of the day came when the Duchess visited the Irish National Guide Dogs Training Centre. Camilla was briefed on how the dogs at the Centre are being trained to support people with vision impairment and children with health conditions, such as diabetes and autism. The Duchess had fun watching a demonstration by the dogs. Camilla, who is a known dog-lover, had a sweet moment holding an 8-week-old Labrador puppy training to be a guide dog.
In the evening, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall were reunited to attend a dinner at Crawford Art Gallery in Cork to celebrate the connections between the UK and Ireland. Their Royal Highnesses were given a tour of the gallery and shown both historical and contemporary artworks in the collection. Parts of the gallery building date back to the early 18th Century.