A new wave of royal visits
We’ve become blasé about Charles and Camilla’s trips but if William, Kate and the kids should pop by, Bill Linnane has set out a suitable itinerary
W e have come a long way asa country. The announcement that HRH Prince Charles was going to be visiting Kilkenny was greeted with casual approval, a sign that we have moved on from the angry young nation we once were, to a more mature approach. We now see a royal visit as being like Christmas drinks in your house with neighbours you don’t especially like, but need to keep onside in case you need to borrow a generator at some point.
There is something entertaining about watching genuine aristocrats go about their business, like a cross between Teletubbies and
Game Of Thrones. All that pomp and circumstance, the pageantry of it all, the zany names and goofy accents. The only real royalty we have is Puck Fair’s King Puck, a terrified goat in a cage, dangling 50 feet off the ground like a hairy David Blaine.
While the royal visit — and subsequent boost in profile — should be of great benefit for the Marble City, it really is a shame that some of the younger royals don’t make a trip across the water before Brexit makes it a bit of a nightmare to get through immigration. Charles and Camilla’s visit may be the biggest thing to hit Kilkenny since the Black Death touched down there in 1348, but who among us wouldn’t like to see Will and Kate bringing the kids over for a weekend? Imagine the boost in Kilkenny’s tourism profile if little George was seen in a miniature Kilkenny kit, swinging a hurlóg at passers-by, while his dad struggled to get a slab of Smithwicks into the boot of a horse-drawn carriage.
But there are must-see destinations all over Ireland, should the next generation of royals decide to cross the water for a break here.
Although the royal family’s crisp brand of choice is probably King, Tayto Park would be a great spot for a family outing. Meanwhile, the adjoining zoo would give the whole family an idea of what a tiger looks like when its head is still attached to its body, as opposed to mounted on a palace wall.
WILD ATLANTIC WAY
Technically about 1,000 unmissable places along one route, the Way has everything. At the top, National Geographic Traveller’s 2017 ‘Coolest Place In The World’, Donegal, where the royals could familiarise themselves with the many uses of the word ‘hi’, from a casual greeting, to when it is tagged on to the end of a sentence for emphasis — “I see you on the cover of that Hello magazine, hi.” There are also the Cliffs of Moher, where Kate could experience the traditional Irish parental panic attack over the little ones getting within a half mile of the cliff edge. They could finish up in Kerry, visiting Fungi the immortal dolphin, or take a trip out to the Skelligs so George could chase a puffin with a toy lightsaber.
After surviving their travels along the Wild Atlantic Way with two small children, a short picnic at this lough in Westmeath would be the perfect location for the cautionary tale of the children of Lir, the royal offspring who were turned into swans because they ticked off their parents, and were forced to spend 300 years on the lough.
Given that George is an actual Little Prince — like the titular hero of the children’s classic by French aristocrat Antoine de Saint-Exupéry — a trip to the National Library would be
ideal. The library holds family and children’s workshops, readings for kids, and book signings by children’s authors. However, it might be best to skip the Yeats exhibition to avoid any awkward questions over that whole Easter 1916 situation.
HILL OF TARA
It seems that just about everyone is descended from Brian Boru, Ireland’s last great aristocratic playboy. Thousands can trace their lineage to Boru, from JFK to Ryan Tubridy, to both Kate Middleton and Prince Charles. Fitting then that they should visit the Hill Of Tara, the former seat of the high kings. It is also close to Mullingar, seat of the last true high king of Ireland, Joe Dolan, where Will could serenade Kate with a few bars of ‘Good Looking Woman’ while shimmying around Joe’s statue.
Located near Cahir, this beautiful thatched ornamental cottage is like something out of a fairy tale. Once part of the estate of Lord and Lady Cahir, a trip here would be an easy sell for the kids, as long as you tell them Papa Smurf lives there. Or just bribe them with some Lough Derg chocolate.
CORK CITY GAOL
There is no way to avoid the history of conflict and oppression between our two countries, as along every road in the country you will find a monument to some fenian sons laid low by the empire. So why not embrace it — a trip to Cork City Gaol could remind them of a time when people got chucked into prison for stealing a slice of bread. Appetites whet by their stroll, they could head for Dino’s chipper on the Mallow Road, to see how in post-Famine Ireland we came up with 500 different ways to cook a spud.
It seems the obvious choice for a royal visit, given that it is just one letter short of being Kate’s family name. With buildings design by AW Pugin and a thriving farmer’s market on Saturday, Will could wear the ‘I Love Middleton’ T-shirt he got as a joke at Christmas, without being ridiculed in the street.
Located off the Dublin coast, this small island is owned by the aristocratic founders of the world-famous Barings Bank, features a castle and mausoleum, and is populated with wallabies. It sounds like a Monty Python sketch waiting to happen, and with the royals, it just might.
It could be any pub, but it should really be an old school, great-pint pub. Old timers in the corner, shrugging indifference to the future king of England as he orders a pint of Guinness and bags of King crisps for the kids and a shandy for the future queen. No WiFi, no Sky Sports, nothing but the chink of glasses and murmured conversations in the snug, the smell of wood, tobacco and leather. George getting a sip of his dad’s pint and recoiling in horror, Charlotte slurping a bottle of Tanora while deconstructing a ham sandwich. An Irish holiday, in a nutshell.
The royal treatment: William and Kate might make a bigger impact than Charles and Camilla (below) if they decide to visit Ireland