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Charles hoping for frequent visits to Ireland in pursuit of reconciliation

The Prince of Wales has declared his desire to personally deepen reconciliation between Britain and Ireland.

As Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall enjoyed their third trip to the Republic in as many years, he said he hopes to keep coming back until the day he dies.

Thousands of well-wishers lined the streets of Kilkenny as the prince addressed scores of invited guests in the Great Hall in the city's castle and spoke of the growing relations, even with Brexit on the horizon.

"Coming to Ireland gives us the opportunity, I hope, just to remind everyone of the enormous strength and warmth of the relation between our countries," Charles said.

"It is a very special relationship and I have every intention of making it even more special if I possibly can and to also build on the most important aspect of all which is reconciliation."

Charles praised President (of Ireland) Michael D Higgins, adding he had done "so much in that regard".

Charles's itinerary on Friday includes a visit to Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin where he will pay respects to the dead of the First World War and those who died fighting for Ireland's freedom in the 1916 Easter Rising.

Ireland's Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan praised this aspect of the royal trip.

"This act of respectful memory represents a further enhancement of relations between our two countries as close friends and neighbours, even as both seek to manage contemporary challenges in changing times," Mr Flanagan said.

The visit is part of a four-day trip to Northern Ireland and the Republic.

On Wednesday the royal couple met Mr Higgins and his wife after visiting a police memorial in Belfast.

On Tuesday they travelled to the HomePlace visitor centre dedicated to the late Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney.

In one of the lighter moments, the prince and duchess got an exhibition in one of Ireland's ancient games from the country's unofficial monarch, Henry Shefflin, or King Henry as he is better known in his part of the world.

The legendary hurler, who has 10 All-Ireland Championship titles to his name, demonstrated the art of the sport before passing over the hurley for the prince to score a goal.

"He kept it low into the bottom of the net," Shefflin said.

"His first question was how hard can you hit it. Like anyone they want to see how hard you can hit it.

"But for the first go it was very very good."

W ith the renowned Kilkenny hurling manager Brian Cody keeping a watchful eye, Shefflin quipped: "Maybe if he was back here a few years ago Brian would have signed him up at some stage.

"It's a great occasion. It's just a sign of the times."

And on the burning question of the prince meeting the "king", Shefflin added: "I think someone might have briefed him on something but I think he got a little bit confused between myself and Brian, he wasn't quite sure which one of us had retired."

Outside the castle the royal couple spent time shaking hands with locals and toured a local farmers' market.

Charles quipped how he declined a taste of the "most fiendish little drink", a tonic ominously named Dragon's Fire, made from garlic.

He also remarked on his prowess with the hurley and his relief "not to have disgraced myself entirely by missing the goal and hitting a member of the press corps between the eyes".

Charles arrived by helicopter at the Curragh camp where he was greeted by Defence Minister Paul Kehoe TD.

He took in a tour of the UN Training School Ireland (UNTSI) which is responsible for the training and education of all Irish Defence Forces personnel preparing to take part in peace support operations globally.

Charles was then briefed by aircrew of the Air Corps emergency helicopter before meeting with students in the officer's mess.

Among those he met were defence force cadets and medical personnel who served in Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis.

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