Speech by HRH The Prince of Wales at Glencairn, the British Ambassador’s Residence in Ireland
12th May 2017
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before we go – as I seem to remember it used to say on the whisky bottle – I did particularly want to say what a real joy it has been to be with you in Ireland that once again and, as in the past, we have been deeply touched by the extraordinary warmth of the reception we have received.
And once again, we have been greatly struck by the strength and vitality of the relationship between our two countries: friends and neighbours, bound together by the myriad of connections between our peoples, actively engaged in the world from these islands that we share.
We were so very grateful to President and Mrs. Higgins for the extraordinary, kind hospitality they showed us at Áras an Uachtaráin. Few people have done as much as President Higgins to strengthen the partnership between our countries.
And we were also particularly pleased to visit the beautiful county and city of Kilkenny. Of course, as I discovered yesterday, no visit to Kilkenny could be complete without seeing some hurling. And I thought it’s just as well, if the hurling stick is offered to you, to have a go and as I have said to various people since, that if I hadn’t hit that ball, I would never have shown my face in Ireland again! But I did have the great advantage of being instructed briefly in advance by King Henry.
And at The Curragh, I greatly enjoyed meeting people from Ireland and the United Kingdom who were taking part in an initiative called Cooperation and Working Together which aims to strengthen the partnership between our defence forces and our emergency services to help protect everyone on the island of Ireland and to make a tangible difference in some of the most troubled parts of the world. It is, I think, Ladies and Gentlemen, a remarkable example of the good that can come from close co-operation between our two countries.
But if I may say so, the most memorable moment of our visit came this morning at Glasnevin Cemetery, where my wife and I were deeply moved to join acts of remembrance held both at the Cross of Sacrifice and at the Necrology Wall. It is so very important that we are able to come together to honour the memory of so many men and women – from all sides – whose sacrifice shaped our shared history.
And everywhere we have been, as on our previous visits, Ladies and Gentlemen, I have been so struck by the strength of the connections between our people and between our economies. And these bonds shape our shared prosperity and security. And they are everywhere you look.
The Taoiseach told me earlier today that 1.2 billion Euros worth of trade crosses the Irish Sea every single week. And I am also told that there are two million people in Britain who claim Irish lineage. I suspect the real number may be even higher still. What I do know for certain, Ladies and Gentlemen, is that in the United Kingdom, Irish people make such an extraordinary and essential contribution to so many parts of our society and our economy.
So in these challenging times, it is more important than ever that we strengthen the connections between us and forge new ones wherever we can.
And if I may, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to reiterate the tremendous gratitude that my wife and I feel for the welcome we have received. We shouldn’t be surprised, of course: Irish hospitality is legendary. On this visit, as on our visits to the West of Ireland in 2015 and to Donegal last year, I can assure you that we have felt and cherished every single one of the ‘Céad míle fáilte’ (hundred thousand welcomes) for which Ireland is so very famous.
So my wife and I hope so very much that we can return to Ireland again soon, so that we might, in some small way, demonstrate the importance that we – and indeed all of the people of Britain – attach to our friendship with the people of Ireland and also the deep affection in which we hold your beautiful country.
With that in mind, Ladies and Gentlemen, perhaps the most fitting words I can offer you as we bid farewell to Ireland are Beannacht libh go dtí go bhfeicfidh mé sibh arís (Blessings until we meet again).