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Smiles all round as Charles and Camilla turn on charm

By Amanda Ferguson

Published 22/05/2015

Prince Charles meets singers who took part in the evening of music, song and word at Hillsborough Castle
Prince Charles meets singers who took part in the evening of music, song and word at Hillsborough Castle
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Hillsborough Castle was the venue for a spring evening of music and words in the presence of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

Broadcaster Sean Rafferty hosted the concert event in Co Down featuring classical, Irish traditional and Ulster-Scots music, poetry and dance, where Ards Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, Northern Ireland Opera, David Quigley and Willie Drennan performed.

Irish dancing sisters Kielyn, Lynsey and Erinne Smyth from Newtownards were thrilled to chat with Camilla afterwards.

Kielyn (16), a pupil at St Columbanus College in Bangor, said: "She was asking us about Irish dancing and said she wishes she could have done it herself.

"She said if she is looking for tap dancing lessons she will come to us!"

Erinne (18), a pupil at St Columbanus College in Bangor, said: "She was a really nice woman."

Lynsey (21), a sports science student at the Ulster University, added: "She was asking what age we started dancing and we told her we played traditional music too.

"She was lovely. Really friendly."

David Lennon (16) from Bangor, a pupil at Our Lady and St Patrick's College Knock, played the accordion for the royals.

"They were asking me about my instrument," he said.

"I was nervous but I really enjoyed it."

Drennan performed an Ulster-Scots storytelling set for Charles and Camilla.

"I started off explaining I was an Ulster-Scot and talked a wee bit funny but I figured they would be able to understand me no bother because they had been in Broughshane," he said.

"They were so easy to talk to, incredible, really relaxed and talked to me as if I was a normal person."

Yesterday marked flautist and singer Kathleen McClean's 33rd birthday.

"It was an unbelievable way to spend my birthday," she said.

"It was amazing. The prince said he really enjoyed it too and made us feel very relaxed."

Bangor-based fiddle player Niall McClean, Kathleen's brother, also enjoyed his special evening.

"It was a fantastic experience," he said.

"From the minute we started you could see Prince Charles and Camilla were really into it.

"They really enjoyed the music and were clapping along and smiling at us, which made us feel really relaxed.

"They thoroughly enjoyed the performance.

"We have played in some major venues but I think this is the biggest and the best house I have ever played in."

Host Rafferty said Hillsborough Castle had sparkled in the most magnificent way.

"It is wonderful to see this house come alive because it has been here for ages for the very few," he said.

"Prince Charles really enjoyed it.

"I said to him I could see his foot tapping and he said 'we have ceilidhs in Scotland', so I said next time we will teach him steps and we will all do it."

Finance Minister Arlene Foster described the concert as a "fabulous occasion for Northern Ireland".

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