Belfast Telegraph

Prince Charles hails 'very special' ties with Ireland

By Nicola Anderson

Prince Charles has given a clear signal that life will go on after Brexit, describing the relationship between the UK and Republic as being "very special" and adding: "I have every intention of making it even more so if I can."

Speaking at a civic reception at Kilkenny Castle, he thanked Ireland for the warm welcome it had given him and his wife, Camilla.

He said: "I always longed to come to this part of the world, Kilkenny, having heard about it all my life.

"I hope and pray that during the rest of my life, before I drop dead, I might have the chance to visit as many counties as possible of this great country."

The Prince said he was looking forward enormously to visiting the other places.

"Coming to Ireland gives us an opportunity of hope, just to remind everyone of the enormous strength and warmth of the relationship between the two countries," he added.

"It is a very special relationship and I have every intention of making it even more so if I can possibly can."

He said he admired President Michael D Higgins "greatly" for his work in reconciliation and looked forward to the opportunity of meeting "many, many more Irish people", remarking that he meets a lot all around the world and in the UK.

Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan remarked it was the royal couple's third visit to Ireland in as many years and said he was delighted they had come to explore the country's medieval east.

He recalled the Prince's visit to Sligo in 2015 as being a "really important step" in a shared journey towards reconciliation and peace. The Prince also became the first member of the Royal Family to visit the Curragh Camp army base since it was handed over to the Irish state in 1922.

He walked in the footsteps of his great-great-grandfather, King Edward VII, who underwent military training at the Curragh in 1861.

It is currently the main training centre for the Irish Army, and is home to 2,000 military personnel.

The Prince met with a number of veterans who had served in Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis.

Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were also handed books of children's stories - The Secret Of Kells and Song Of The Sea - to give to their grandchildren, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, as a memory of their trip to Ireland when they visited the award-winning Cartoon Saloon animation studios.

And the boys from Kilkenny CBS secondary school lined the gates to shake hands with the royals.

Cillian Hackett (13) was one of the youngest pupils to get a handshake.

"He was nice, posh," Cillian said afterwards.

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