Prince Charles and Camilla see the sights in County Wicklow

Prince Charles and Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall began a two-day official visit to Ireland today, at the request of the British Government. The aim of the visit was to celebrate the links between Britain and Ireland and it is to focus on environmental sustainability and community involvement, along with celebrating Ireland’s natural beauty and charm.

Today the Prince and Duchess attended a number of engagements across County Wicklow. Prince Charles had this to say about this week’s visit: “It’s a particular joy to visit County Wicklow on this occasion and to receive such a warm and friendly welcome.”

The first event of the day saw Charles and Camilla visit Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation in Enniskerry, Wicklow, where they attended a ceremony hosted by President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina.

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The Glencree Centre in Wicklow was established in 1974 in response to the conflict in Northern Ireland. The centre has been involved in peace-building and reconciliation within Ireland and internationally. The centre’s aim is to transform violent conflict with peaceful methods. In 2015, as a result of research commissioned by Glencree in April 2014, the centre designed new programmes for those deeply affected by the violence of ‘The Troubles’. The Glencree Women’s Programme was established to redresses the imbalance of opportunities for women and enables them to play a very positive role as peace leaders and in the life of their communities.

Prince Charles visited the centre in 2002, and a commemorative poem in honour of his visit was written by Una O’Higgins O’Malley, the late founding member of the centre. The poem has been engraved on a piece of Wicklow granite and was today unveiled by Prince Charles and President Higgins, as the poem was being read to an audience of children from three schools currently working with the Glencree Centre: St Colmcille’s Community School in Knocklyon, Dublin; St Louis Secondary Girls School in Dundalk and Newbridge Integrated College in Loughbrickland, Northern Ireland.

Bertie Ahern, former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and former Northern Ireland First-Minister Peter Robinson also attended the event which included musical performances, Irish dancing and poetry readings.

The royal couple’s second engagement was to attend a civic reception at Powerscourt House and Gardens hosted by Wicklow County Council. Located in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains, the estate was originally an important site for the Anglo-Normans who arrived in Ireland in the late-12th century. Powerscourt House and Gardens are beautifully situated within the 1,000 acre Powerscourt Estate. The former medieval castle was transformed into a grand mansion in 1730 by the 1st Viscount Powerscourt.

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The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall pause in front of Sugarloaf mountain (clarence house)

The property underwent extensive renovation in 1974, in order for it to join the gardens – already open to the public -as a visitor attraction. Tragically, a major fire destroyed all the principal reception rooms and bedrooms. Following refurbishment it was finally opened to the public in 1997 by President Mary Robinson. Powercourt Gardens have been voted the 3rd best gardens in the world by National Geographic.

Prince Charles and Camilla went on a tour of the estate, including the Italian Gardens, and met with the Slazenger family who run the estate, before meeting guests at the reception. Prince Charles also planted a Giant Redwood tree in the gardens, pausing during the process to check on the plant and its leaves. The Sequoiadendron Giganteum is the largest tree species in the world, living for approximately 1,000 years.

The Prince said that he discovered that, like most tree-planting ceremonies he takes part in, the tree planted at Powerscourt House today, will be dug up and replanted at a better time of year, but that he hoped to return in the future to see how it had grown.

The tree has significance at Powerscourt, as The Duke of Wellington gifted 100 Giant Redwood trees to Lord Powerscourt for helping him secure victory at the Battle of Waterloo. Prince Charles followed in the footsteps of Princess Grace of Monaco, Jackie Onassis and Buzz Aldrin who have all planted trees in the gardens.

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Speaking in the grounds of Powerscourt House, The Prince of Wales said that what was special about coming to Ireland was being able to “celebrate and remind ourselves of those vital links between us that go back hundreds, if not thousands of years. Whatever happens, the great thing is to go on to understand how much we mean to one another.”

He then thanked the public for what he described as “putting up with us yet again”.

The Prince has visited Ireland numerous times in recent years – this is the 5th time since 2015, with the last visit being a four-day trip in June last year, accompanied by his wife, Camilla. Highlights of the trip last year included visiting a number of locations in Cork and Kerry, including Derrynane House and the English Market, meeting with the Sinn Feinn President and Vice President in Cork. The couple also visited Northern Ireland to lay a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance at Omagh.

In May 2015, Charles made an emotional journey to the holiday home of Lord Louis Mountbatten, his much loved great-uncle.

Next in the busy schedule, saw The Prince of Wales visit ‘The Cool Planet Experience’ where they observed schoolchildren taking part in a workshop making plastic-free alternatives to water bottles and meeting volunteers.

‘The Cool Planet Experience’ was designed with the key mission to motivate the Irish nation to take action on climate change by showcasing solutions and lifestyle choices that can be used to help combat climate change. ‘Cool Planet’ aims to get people involved by an interactive exhibition, touring workshops and their champion programme.

During his visit, the Prince met with school children who have taken part in workshops at the centre along with 50 volunteers who were hired to spread the word about climate change within their local communities. The 70-year-old was also shown an electrified 1983 Range Rover, by the Irish car manufacturer Electrifi, who specialise in electrifying high-end cars.

The Duchess of Cornwall, meanwhile, travelled to Bray to visit Bray Women’s Shelter and view the facilities and learn about the services offered to women and children in crisis. She meet staff, volunteers and representatives from their partner organisations.

camilla, the duchess of cornwal visits Bray refuge in wicklow (british embassy in dublin)

The refuge opened in 1978 and provides safe and secure short-term crisis accommodation for women and their children who experience domestic abuse. The main focus of the shelter is to support women in their wish to live independently and safely, free from violence.

Every resident is assigned a key worker upon admission, who helps them work with agencies supporting women and children. The centre also provides other services, including a 24-hour helpline, a drop-in service, court accompaniment and outreach and child care programmes.

Bray Refuge is funded through the Child and Family Agency and Bray County Council along with voluntary contributions and fundraising activities. The centre was renovated and refurbished in 2018 which enabled their capacity to increase by 20%. The refuge us able to provide accommodation for at least 10 women and their children.

The final engagement of the day saw The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall attend a dinner celebrating Anglo-Irish relations at Glencairn. Glencairn is the official residence of the British Ambassador to Ireland, in Dublin.

Their dinner menu included a cheese souffle, black sole and panacotta.

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1 comment

Yumiko Kokuryu Mon 20 May, 2019 - 9:40 pm

Very wonderful couple of Prince charles and camilla


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