Cider, tweed & stunning landscapes: Charles & Camilla in N. Ireland & Ireland

Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall have spent three days visiting Northern Ireland and Ireland – here is a summary of their time on the Emerald Isle.

The visit began on Monday in Belfast with Prince Charles working solo at the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), which lies in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.

The Prince of Wales has presented a Queen’s Anniversary Prize to The Centre for Secure Information Technologies part of the institute earlier this year at Buckingham Palace. It is the UK’s largest academic research centre and has been designated an ‘Academic Centre for Excellence for Cyber Security’ by GCHQ.

Rounding off a short first day, Charles officially opened the university’s first Global Research Institute and unveiled a plaque to commemorate the visit.

On Tuesday, the day began with Northern Irish political leaders; the Prince had a private meeting with former IRA commander Martin McGuinness – currently Deputy First Minister – and First Minister, Arlene Foster. The Prince spoke with them at the Royal residence in Hillsborough Castle. McGuinness’ appointment is controversial to many due to his role and connection with the IRA.

PORTICO Arts & Heritage Centre in Portaferry was next on the agenda for the Charles, which has been undergoing a restoration project. It is now used by the local community.

This was the couple’s second official visit to the Republic of Ireland – the last in May 2015 – with The Queen making a historic visit in 2011.

Camilla then joined her husband at the Yellow Door Deli in Portadown, which champions local produce, something the Prince is supportive of. This year is the year of Northern Irish Food and Drink, so the couple got to try some of this produce including gin and bacon.

It was then on to a carpet makers, and Charles got to see a glimpse of one of his mother’s soon-to-be flooring covers, as Ulster Carpets are creating a piece for Buckingham Palace.

Splitting off, the Prince headed to the Museum of Orange Heritage, while the Duchess visited the Armagh Cider Company.

The heritage museum aims to promote shared understanding and greater levels of reconciliation through education, something key in a divided Northern Ireland. Charles toured the museum, with the Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland saying they were ‘ absolutely thrilled’ to have The Prince of Wales there to see how they ‘play our part in Northern Ireland society moving forward’.

Camilla took tours of the cider orchards, currently in bloom, before getting to taste some of the ‘blossom to bottle’ cider made at the farm.

That evening, The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall attended a concert at Hillsborough Castle. They were treated to performances from the DIT Harp Ensemble from the Dublin Conservatory of Music & Drama, The Belfast Opera and The Folk & Trad group of The Royal Irish Regiment. This was followed by a reception.

Wednesday, the last day of the visit, began in Donegal Town for a number of visits to local businesses and places of interest making this their second official visit to Ireland.

They started at Donegal Castle, taking a tour in the sunshine, before undertaking a walkabout with the public, who had gathered in droves to see the Royal guests.

In Letterkenny, Prince Charles gave an address, while Camilla went to Ballyraine National School to hear about The Pushkin Trust projects.

Charles said that the relationship between Britain and Ireland is ‘now better than ever,’ and that he hoped ‘the example you have set [in terms of peace] will be copied in other areas of the world that have suffered so much conflict’.

Camilla got to see children being encouraged in creativity by Pushkin at the school, including reading and gardening. The Duchess, 68, is an avid supporter of literacy in adults and children.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall admire the views of a loch from the grounds of Glenveagh Castle in Ireland. Picture by Stephen Lock / i-Images
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall admire the views of a loch from the grounds of Glenveagh Castle in Ireland. Picture by Stephen Lock / i-Images

Maggie’s a tweed factory, which has been producing tweed for 150 years, was also visited by Charles and Camilla, as well as a local artisan butcher McGettigans. They paid a private visit to Glebe House, home of artist and friend of the Prince, Derek Hill, where they viewed some of his work; the Prince was tutored by Hill.

Finally, there was a visit to Glenveagh National Park and Castle.

The couple posed for a photo in front of the stunning landscape at the castle, which is surrounded by the Derryveagh Mountains. This rounded off their day in the republic.

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