The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall today began their short visit to Ireland, despite the security threats they face.
The couple landed at Shannon airport in Galway, and got down to work straight away.
Charles and Camilla arrived at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI), and were greeted with some Irish dancing. They were presented with a copy of a book from the pioneering cartographer and writer, Tim Robinson, as well as a WB Yeats rose, named after the renowned Irish poet, William Butler Yeats.
Taking a tour of the campus, Prince Charles met with Sinn Féin’s president, Gerry Adams; the pair shook hands, exchanging brief words in the Hall. The republican party requested the meeting with The Prince of Wales, which he agreed to. Mr Adams said he hoped the meeting would assist the process of peace and reconciliation in Ireland.
Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness reportedly had a private meeting with Prince Charles.
The Prince gave a speech at the NUI, where he thanked the people for ‘a really wonderful welcome’ and said the Irish ‘have a wonderful spirit…and there is a unique magic about Ireland which is totally irresistible.’
He also commented on the ‘most remarkable aspects of West of Ireland culture’, and that it was his great-great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria, who opened the university, originally called Queen’s College.
The Prince and Duchess, who yesterday viewed Prince Harry’s garden for Sentebale at the Chelsea Flower Show, then planted a Sessile Oak beside the Quad, the Sessile being the tree of Ireland, and Wales.
The Duchess moved onto Claddagh NS School alone, while her husband headed to Ireland’s national agency for marine research, development and innovation, the Marine Institution.
Camilla heard about the literacy efforts of those at the school, being patron of other organisations which encourage reading in children. She also met with The King of the Claddagh, Mike Lynskey. The Claddagh is an Irish-speaking community in Galway City, and its King is the leader of the community.
Camilla joined in pinch-pot making and had a go at speaking Irish! ‘Dia daoibh’, she said (God be with you), and looked relieved by the warm reaction.
The Prince, a passionate conservationist, arrived at the Marine Institution today. Charles established the International Sustainability Unit in 2010, and has expressed a particular interest in learning about the impact of climate change on the world’s oceans.
He had a look at some biodiscovery samples on display, as well as chatting with staff at the centre, and being shown equipment used for conservation work.
The Duchess’ next stop was at Druid Theatre, Ireland’s touring theatre company. She attended a reception at the Mick Lally Theatre to mark the Druid Theatre Company’s 40th anniversary, as well as its new production of DruidShakespeare.
She was treated to a song and a short performance in the theatre.
Charles meanwhile, went on to the Burren, a place he has said he has wanted to go for a while. He visited the farm of Patrick Nagle near Corofin, to hear about the challenges of farming, while trying to preserve the fragile ecology of the area, and also spoke with Brendan Dunford of the Burren Life project, which aims to help farmers do just that.
He met members of the Burren Beo Trust, which has spearheaded an educational project about the Burren in schools for a decade. The Trust aims to conserve one of the world’s great cultural landscapes the Burren through education and active conservation
Camilla then moved on to The House Hotel, where she tried a cocktail called ‘The Duchess’, made from gin, elderflower liqueur and champagne; she had a sip and said it packed a punch. It is now to be a permanent fixture on the menu. She also sampled some local cheeses, as a few stalls had been laid out.
The Duchess tries a sip of The Duchess….it packs a punch she says! pic.twitter.com/qUPVgFqsKi
— Rebecca English (@RE_DailyMail) May 19, 2015
The couple will dine with President Michael D Higgins at Louch Cutra tonight, ending their first day of #RoyalVisitIreland