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Prince Charles to visit village where IRA murdered Mountbatten

By Noel McAdam

Published 22/04/2015

Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall
Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall
Recovery of the body of Lord Mountbatten, killed in an explosion on his boat (1979). FILE PIC.

The Prince of Wales is set to make a poignant visit to the area where his godfather Lord Mountbatten was killed by an IRA bomb almost 35 years ago.

Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall are expected to visit Mullaghmore in Co Sligo as part of a history-making trip next month.

It is believed to be the first time a royal visit has included both the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland on the same tour.

Much of the focus of the four days from May 19-23 will be on the apparent inclusion of Mullaghmore in the itinerary, although details are still being finalised.

The Prince has spoken of the devastating impact of the death of his great-uncle on the royal family. He was close to Lord Mountbatten, who spent a number of summers in the Sligo area.

He was 79 when he was assassinated by a remote control bomb on one of the most violent days in the entire history of the Troubles.

A few hours after the Mullaghmore deaths, 18 soldiers were killed in an IRA ambush at Warrenpoint - the biggest single loss of life to the Army here - on August 27, 1979.

Three others perished with Lord Mountbatten, among them 15-year-old local boy Paul Maxwell, who was earning some pocket money finding the best fishing spots, along with one of Lord Mountbatten's twin grandsons, 14-year-old Nicholas Knatchbull, and 82-year-old Lady Doreen Brabourne, who died in hospital the following day.

The only person convicted for the murders, Thomas McMahon, an experienced IRA bomb-maker, was released from jail under the Good Friday Agreement after serving 18 years. A second man was acquitted.

McMahon is now involved with Sinn Fein and party president Gerry Adams has defended his role in the current election campaign in the area.

While synonymous with the IRA assassination, Mullaghmore has remained a popular beauty spot and destination for sea anglers, holidaymakers and big-wave surfers.

The north Sligo region is closely associated with WB Yeats, who is buried a few miles away in the graveyard in Drumcliffe.

The Prince and the Duchess are expected to visit it, along with Lissadell House, which was a holiday retreat for the poet. They are also likely to visit Dublin, and attend formal events with Irish President Michael D Higgins.

Mr Adams said: "I hope this visit will be an occasion to promote reconciliation, respect and understanding."

The Queen's tour of the Republic four years ago - the first state visit by a British monarch - is viewed as the start of a new era in relations between the two countries.

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