Growing bonds of friendship
Anam cara is an old Irish term for “soul friend” and in the Celtic tradition having one was regarded as essential to spiritual development.
The phrase was revived by John O’Donohue, the late poet, philosopher, priest and native Irish speaker much admired by Britain’s Prince Charles. In an elegant and thoughtful address, the prince quoted him yesterday at Cork City Hall during the royal visit.
There was almost a spiritual dimension to the visit by the prince and his wife, Camilla, to Cork and Kerry, a part of Ireland more keenly associated with Celtic tradition than any other part of the country. “We have felt every single one of the ‘céad míle fáiltes’ extended to us,” he declared, as he honoured his hosts with cúpla focail in impeccable Irish.
The royal visit drew thousands of Corkonians onto the streets of the city, just as the 2011 visit of his mother, Queen Elizabeth, and her husband Philip, the duke of Edinburgh.
The warmth and friendliness of the queen’s visit was repeated yesterday in the English Market, University College Cork, City Hall, and most notably on the Grand Parade and South Mall as the royal couple chatted with the crowd.
This is the prince’s third visit here and that is a sign of his quiet determination to fasten the growing bonds of friendship between the Irish and British people.
Perhaps in him, we have found a royal anam cara.