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

Irish Independent - - NEWS -

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.


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.


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.


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

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