Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Queen's Ireland trip healed 800 years of enmity

The  Queen enjoying a fashion show as she attends the National Convention Centre Dublin on May 19, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
The Queen enjoying a fashion show as she attends the National Convention Centre Dublin on May 19, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh Cashel, Co.Tipperary.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh Cashel, Co.Tipperary.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh Cashel, Co.Tipperary.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh Cashel, Co.Tipperary.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh Cashel, Co.Tipperary.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh Cashel, Co.Tipperary.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh Cashel, Co.Tipperary.
The Quee and Prince Philip arrive by helicopter in front of the Rock of Cashel on May 20, 2011 in Cashel, Ireland.
Queen Elizabeth II in the nave of the Cathedral at St Patrick's Rock, Cashel
The Queen tours the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary (PA)
The Queen attends the National Convention Centre Dublin on May 19, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
Riverdance performers dance in the Convention Centre Dublin on May 19, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
The Queen meets singer Mary Byrne
Eddie Jordan leaves the Convention Centre Dublin after an evening of British and Irish music and fashion attended by the Queen
Westlife perform in the Convention Centre Dublin on May 19, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
KILDARE, IRELAND - MAY 19: Queen Elizabeth II tours the Irish National Stud, during the third day of the state visit to Ireland, on May 19, 2011 in Kildare, Ireland. The Duke and Queen's visit to Ireland is the first by a monarch since 1911. An unprecedented security operation is taking place with much of the centre of Dublin turning into a car free zone. Republican dissident groups have made it clear they are intent on disrupting proceedings. (Photo by John Stillwell - Pool/Getty Images)
The Queen at the Irish National Stud
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visits the Irish National Stud in County Kildare on May 19, 2011 in Kildare, Ireland
The Queen Elizabeth II arrives at the Convention Centre Dublin for an evening of British and Irish music and fashion
The Queen visits the Irish National Stud on May 19, 2011 in Kildare, Ireland.
The Queen visits the Irish National Stud on May 19, 2011 in Kildare, Ireland.
KILDARE, IRELAND - MAY 19: Queen Elizabeth II and Chryss O'Reilly, Chair of the Board of The Irish National Stud, view some of the Studs' resident Stallions at the Irish National Stud, during the third day of the state visit to Ireland, on May 19, 2011 in Kildare, Ireland. The Duke and Queen's visit to Ireland is the first by a monarch since 1911. An unprecedented security operation is taking place with much of the centre of Dublin turning into a car free zone. Republican dissident groups have made it clear they are intent on disrupting proceedings. (Photo by Irish Government - Pool/Getty Images)
A Garda keeps watch as the Queen visits the Irish National Stud on May 19, 2011 in Kildare, Ireland.
Prince Philip the Gaisce pin worn by Gavin Radford,a Bronze and Silver Award holder from St Declan's College, Cabra
Models prepare before a fashion show featuring outfits by British and Irish designers at the Convention Centre Dublin watched by the Queen
Workmen vacuum the red carpet in the Convention Centre Dublin for an evening of British and Irish music and fashion
Models prepare before a fashion show featuring outfits by British and Irish designers at the Convention Centre Dublin watched by the Queen
The Queen and President Mary McAleese listen to live classical music as they arrive at the Convention Centre Dublin for an evening of British and Irish music and fashion on May 19, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
The Queen on stage at the National Convention Centre Dublin on May 19, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
Prince Philip speaks beside Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (L) and Dr Lawrence Crowley, Chairman of Gaisce during a reception for members of Gaisce, the President's Award at Farmleigh House on May 19, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland
The Queen watches a fashion show at the National Convention Centre on May 19, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
The Queen watches a fashion show at the National Convention Centre on May 19, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
The Queen watches a fashion show at the National Convention Centre on May 19, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
Peter and Iris Robinson wait to greet the Queen and Irish President Mary McAleese at a State dinner in Dublin Castle
Iris Robinson with Bertie Ahern (left) and husband Peter Robinson (right)at the State Dinner in honour of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, at Dublin Castle.
Queen arrives to visit the Irish National Stud in County Kildare on May 19, 2011 in Kildare, Ireland.
The Queen is escorted by Chryss O'Reilly (2nd L), the Chair of the Board of the Irish National Stud, during a visit to the Irish National Stud in County Kildare on May 19, 2011 in Kildare, Ireland.
The Queen visits the Irish National Stud in County Kildare on May 19, 2011 in Kildare, Ireland.
Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny meets the Queen during her Irish visit in 2011
Queen Elizabeth II visits the Irish National Stud on May 19, 2011 in Kildare, Ireland.
The Queen greets Iris Robinson, the wife of Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson with Irish President Mary McAleese at the State Banquet in Dublin Castle on May 18, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
Queen Elizabeth II toasts with Irish President Mary McAleese and British Prime Minister David Cameron after giving a speech at Dublin Castle on the second day of her State Visit, on May 18, 2011 in Dublin
The Queen and President Mary McAleese arrive for a State Dinner at Dublin Castle, on May 18, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
The Queen and President Mary McAleese arrive for a State Dinner at Dublin Castle, on May 18, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
The Queen makes a speech as she attends the State Dinner on the second day of her State Visit, at Dublin Castle, on May 18, 2011
The British Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrive at Dublin Castle for a State dinner
Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny talks with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron at Government buildings where the two held talks prior to attending the state dinner in honour of Queen Elizabeth II
The 8th Royal Hussars lead the procession for King George V and Queen Mary down Grafton Street,Dublin during the Royal Visit in 1911
Protestors march as the Garda form a protective ring around Dublin Castle as the Queen attends a state dinner on May 18, 2011 in Dublin
WINSTON CHURCHILL MEETS QUEEN ELIZABETH II
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive to attend a State Banquet in Dublin Castle on May 18, 2011 in Dublin
A protester near Dublin Castle ahead of the state dinner in honour of Queen Elizabeth II on the second day of her State Visit to Ireland
Protestors outside Dublin Castle ahead of the state dinner in honour of Queen Elizabeth II on the second day of her State Visit to Ireland
Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny pictured with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron at Government buildings where the two held talks prior to attending the state dinner in honour of Queen Elizabeth II
George V with Queen Mary visiting Ireland in 1911, the last reigning monarchs to visit.Queen Victoria visiting Dublin in 1900
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh pictured with Irish President Mary McAleese and her husband Dr Martin McAleese at Dublin Castle
George V with Queen Mary visiting Ireland in 1911, the last reigning monarchs to visit.Queen Victoria visiting Dublin in 1900
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh arrive to attend a State Banquet in Dublin Castle on May 18, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland
President of the Irish Republic Mary McAleese, Queen Elizabeth II and GAA President Christy Cooney at Croke Park, Dublin, during the second day of her State Visit to Ireland.
Queen Elizabeth II at the Irish War memorial Garden in Dublin.
King George V, arriving at Belfast City Hall accompanied by Queen Mary to the opening of the first Ulster Parliament. 22/6/1921.
Queen Elizabeth II accompanied by President Mary McAleese visit the Garden of Remembrance on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
NI visit 1949. The young Princess Elizabeth visits Northern Ireland.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 17: Queen Elizabeth II and President Mary McAleese lay a wreaths at the Garden of Remembrance on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. The Duke and Queen's visit is the first by a monarch since 1911. An unprecedented security operation is taking place with much of the centre of Dublin turning into a car free zone. Republican dissident groups have made it clear they are intent on disrupting proceedings. (Photo by Irish Government - Pool/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011
Picture dated 1935 showing Princess Elizabeth sitting in the studio of Hungarian sculptor Sigismund de Strobl (background).
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh offered a pint of Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse
Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 17: Queen Elizabeth II arrives to lay a wreath at Dublin Memorial Garden on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. The Duke and Queen's visit is the first by a monarch since 1911. An unprecedented security operation is taking place with much of the centre of Dublin turning into a car free zone. Republican dissident groups have made it clear they are intent on disrupting proceedings. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Princess Elizabeth with her grandparents King George V and Queen Mary; and Snip the King's Cairn terrier, 1928.
Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011
Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011
Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011
Protesters throw missiles at Irish police in the streets adjacent to the Garden on Remembrance where Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 17: Police and protesters clash in the streets adjacent to the Garden on Remembrance where Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. The Duke and Queen's visit is the first by a monarch since 1911. An unprecedented security operation is taking place with much of the centre of Dublin turning into a car free zone. Republican dissident groups have made it clear they are intent on disrupting proceedings. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth's state visit to the Republic of Ireland. May 2011
Protesters throw missiles at Irish police in the streets adjacent to the Garden on Remembrance where Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh are shown the Book of Kells during a visit to Trinity College Dublin on May 17
The Queen at the Aras an Uachtarain.
The Queen shakes hands with Irish President Mary McAleese after arriving at Aras an Uachtarain (The Irish President's official residence) in Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland.
Protestors make their way down a street in Dublin after the Queen arrived in the country for a four day state visit.
Protestors make their way down a street in Dublin after the Queen arrived in the country for a four day state visit.
Protestors make their way down a street in Dublin after the Queen arrived in the country for a four day state visit.
The signatures of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh are seen in the visitors book at Aras An Uachtarain in Phoenix Park, Dublin
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams speaks to the media in front of the Dublin Monaghan Bombings memorial in Dublin city centre, in response to the royal visit by Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth II holds a posy of flowers given to her by eight-year-old Rachel Fox after she was greeted by Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore upon arrival at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel
Queen Elizabeth II arrives in Baldonnel Airport on the Royal Flight on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
Queen Elizabeth II arrives in Baldonnel Airport on the Royal Flight on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
Queen Elizabeth II arrives in Baldonnel Airport on the Royal Flight on May 17, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh are greeted by Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore (front) upon arrival at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, ahead of a four day state visit.
Queen Elizabeth II is greeted by Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore upon arrival at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel
Irish Army Rangers are seen at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, ahead of the arrival of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.
A sticker on a lamppost critical of the state visit to Ireland by the Queen.
Princess Elizabeth of York in 1927
A poster is seen on a lamp post in advance of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh's visit on May 16, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
PRESIDENT MARY ROBINSON AND QUEEN ELIZABETH
The Royal Standard flag flies from an Irish pub ahead of the state visit to Ireland by the Queen on May 16, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.
Members of the public walk past phone boxes taped shut by police ahead of the state visit to Ireland by the Queen
Gardai and security outside the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin city centre, ahead of the royal Visit by Britain's Queen of Elizabeth II and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh this week.
People walk past graffiti in Dublin city centre, ahead of the royal visit by Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II meets Dame Helen Mirren at a reception to celebrate young people in the performing arts, at Buckingham Palace
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh arrive at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, for a four day state visit.
KING GEORGE V1865-1936
King George V1 (VI) : Coronation on May 12th 1937. The Royal family robed and crowned on the balacony of Buckingham Palace after the coronation, with the princesses.
Princess Elizabeth of York in 1927
20/11/1947 Princess Elizabeth, now Queen, and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, now the Duke of Edinburgh with their eight bridesmaids in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace, on their wedding day.
King George V, at Belfast City Hall accompanied by Queen Mary to the opening of the first Ulster Parliament. 22/6/1921.
Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret riding a rocking horse at St. Paul's Waldenbury in August 1932
Princess Elizabeth of York with lilies in 1929
Princess Elizabeth (who became Queen Elizabeth II). The Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Princess Elizabeth (who became Queen Elizabeth II) playing with Victorian glasses. The Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
The Duchess of York with Princess Elizabeth (who became Queen Elizabeth II). The Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth:Coronation 1953/Visit to Northern Ireland. In Ballymena.
Queen Elizabeth:Coronation 1953/Ulster Celebrations. Coronation Book Display. 4/6/1953
Queen Elizabeth:Coronation 1953/Ulster Celebrations. Beechill, Lisburn. 30/5/1953
Queen Elizabeth:Coronation 1953/Ulster Celebrations. Loopland Drive Party.
2/6/1953, of the coronation in Westminster Abbey of Britainís Queen Elizabeth II. 50 years on the anniversary will be marked later Monday June 2, 2003, with a service in the Abbey, attended by members of the Royal family, invited guests and 1,000 members of the public.
2/6/1953. Bishops pay homage to Queen Elizabeth II, at her coronation.
Equal Partnership: President McAleese and the Queen set a new course for Anglo-Irish relations

A belated Happy Christmas. Nollaig Shona Duit. There, I've gone and written it - in Irish. And on this Boxing Day 2011, the heavens haven't fallen out of the sky over Belfast City Hall. The Dome of Delight remains intact. The Union flag still flutters proudly atop the portals.

With a continental market held outside, why not deck out the whole building with Happy Christmas in French, German, Mandarin or Spanish - and, lest anyone feels left out, a wee bit of Ulster-Scots, as well?

I found the centre of Belfast buzzing last week, in spite of the recession, and a far cry from some of the miserable Christmases of the 1970s and 1980s. Thankfully, as another year ends, peace hangs in and long may it continue.

It's that time of year when we look back - in my case on around 40,000 words written in this column, attacking, defending, supporting, criticising, upbraiding, extolling, condemning and reflecting upon whatever struck my mind in any particular week.

Northern Ireland is no less British, but perhaps, as the sign at the City Hall demonstrates, a little more Irish than it was a year ago, when I was coughing a bout of swine flu out of my lungs in the sub-zero snow-bound surroundings of Christmas 2010. Even though Stormont does not appear to do much, the longer it survives the more at ease with one another we seem to be becoming.

Miles of peace walls still exist, but every now and then, a gate opens, or a barrier is raised, or an Irish sign is tolerated, or another Orange march passes off without incident.

Very slowly, if not all that surely, we step into a future which might have a little less intolerance and a bit more understanding.

For that, we should be thankful - if hardly complacent, because we cannot be totally sure and so much still needs to be done.

The big moment of total tolerance and understanding this year was the Queen's incredible visit to Dublin. It was the stuff of Anglo-Irish dreams.

The Duke of Edinburgh wielding a hurley stick at Croke Park. Cheers for the Queen in the rebel city of Cork. Handshakes and smiles replacing 800 years of enmity. And a warm mention of Ireland in the Queen's Christmas message.

I hope that we can look back on those remarkable pictures of Elizabeth Windsor and Mary McAleese and reflect that 2011 was truly a turning-point in our history.

Sadly, 2011 will be remembered in another way. One word dominated all our lives: money. Or, rather, the lack of it.

As a consequence, our homes are worth less. Jobs are gone or at risk of going. The future for many families is tainted with uncertainty.

No one section of our society can rest easy. No one part of this island has escaped the pain. I doubt if there is anyone, rich or poor, who has not been touched in some way.

When we look back on 2011 we may conclude that it was the year when we came to our collective senses. Reality dawned.

The financial certainties of life could be taken for granted no longer. However, there is more to life than money.

In 2011, the Republic, through the Queen's successful visit, and Northern Ireland, through golf and entertainment, shrugged off outdated perceptions.

Once we were the bastion of terrorism. Now we are the golfing capital of the Western world. Rory McIlroy is fast supplanting Ian Paisley or Gerry Adams as our most famous figure. Surely that's a positive.

The tears of Darren Clarke embracing his two sons after winning the Open Championship help to uplift us all out of our terrible past.

Lady Gaga at the MTV awards, Snow Patrol in outdoor concert at the City Hall - these are the images of a new Northern Ireland which tell the outside world we are not what so many people think we are.

We are moving on in the right direction. Happy Christmas and Nollaig Shona Duit to one and all.

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