Belfast Telegraph

Charles and Camilla show winning form at race meeting

By Greg Harkin

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were greeted to rapturous cheers as they attended the Sligo races last night, with the duchess promising a flutter on a 'lucky' jockey.

The 6.30pm race named in their honour got under starter's orders on time before a crowd of thousands at the race track.

Mark Walsh rode 13/2 Mollyanna to the winner's enclosure where the royal couple were on hand to present the prizes.

Walsh had won the first race as well, and Camilla joked: "You're not having a bad day are you?"

She then asked the jockey the name of his horse in the following race and she laughed: "Well, I might have a flutter on that."

As it turned out, Walsh failed to make it three in a row.

The winning owner, Wexford's Bernard Cloney, chatted to the duchess afterwards.

"That was a bit special," he said.

"Mollyanna's brother was second in the Grand National last year and the duchess knew that.

"It was an honour to meet them here."

Prince Charles was in similarly jovial mood earlier in Drumcliffe where he was invited to attend a Spike Milligan festival held in Sligo every year to honour the prince's favourite comedian.

The two were friends, with Milligan famously poking fun at the prince during an awards ceremony not long before he died.

Artist Annie West, from The Goons Preservation Society, laughed and joked with the prince.

"Spike's father was from here and Charles knew that, but he didn't know about the festival so I invited to come next year and he said he'd love to come," said Annie.

The light-hearted moment came after a sombre peace and reconciliation service at St Columba's church in Drumcliffe.

Former Irish President Mary McAleese and British Ambassador to Ireland Dominick Chilcott led prayers at the ecumenical service.

Among the congregation was 17-year-old Bethany McLoughlin whose grandfather Gerard McKinney was among the 13 people shot dead by paratroopers on Bloody Sunday in Londonderry, as well as relatives of some of the 18 soldiers killed in the IRA bomb attacks at Narrow Water, Warrenpoint.

She sang for the prince and later he asked to meet her and shook her hand.

Mrs McAleese said the service had been "very emotional" especially for the prince, adding: "Today he is finally able to do what most other people would do; visit the scene where a loved one has died."

The royals will arrive in Northern Ireland today where engagements include a reception and concert at Hillsborough Castle.

Charles and Camilla will also visit Mount Stewart House and gardens and mark the completion of a three-year restoration programme at the stately home.

They will also visit Corrymeela, Northern Ireland's oldest peace and reconciliation centre, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and was previously visited by the prince in 1998.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph