Belfast Telegraph

A rail nice touch as Prince Edward catches steam train to historic Inch Abbey

By Harriet Crawford

Members of the Royal Family are more likely to travel by a helicopter or speedboat these days rather than a steam train.

However, Prince Edward opted for a historic locomotive for his short but exclusive four-mile journey to Inch Abbey yesterday afternoon.

He rode the first Royal train to run in Northern Ireland since 1994.

The Earl of Wessex left Downpatrick and County Down Railway Museum's station on the restored 1934 locomotive after opening its carriage viewing gallery.

Prince Edward is in Northern Ireland for a two-day visit.

He was welcomed to Belfast by the city's new Lord Lieutenant, Fionnuala Jay O'Boyle, before being whisked off to take in some of Downpatrick's historical highlights and to meet teenagers involved with the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. The St Patrick's Centre was the Royal visitor's first pit stop, where he walked through the interactive journey based on St Patrick's own writings. The Earl was met by Dean Henry Hull at Down Cathedral, who gave him a tour and short history of the building.

Early Celtic monasteries are said to have existed on the site in the sixth century and the existing building encompasses the ruins of the Benedictine monks' early 12th century monastery. The Earl also visited the granite stone that marks St Patrick's burial in 461AD.

The Duke of Edinburgh's Award – designed to encourage young people's personal discovery, self-reliance, commitment, responsibility and service to the community – was also given the Royal visitor's attention in Belfast. The Earl presented awards to local children who had completed the scheme at Belfast Education and Library Board yesterday.

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