Prince Charles and Camilla to visit Northern Ireland and the Republic, Clarence House announces
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are to visit Northern Ireland next month, Clarence House has announced.
Charles and Camilla will take in a four-day tour of Northern Ireland and the Republic between Tuesday 19 and Friday 22 May.
It is highly unusual for a high-profile royal visit to Ulster to be announced in advance - and is testament to how far security concerns have improved in recent years.
The trip will reportedly take them to Mullaghmore, where the Prince's great-uncle, Lord Mountbatten, was killed in an IRA bombing in August 1979.
In County Sligo, the royal couple may also visit Lissadell House and Drumcliffe Church, where the acclaimed poet WB Yeats is buried.
Charles has officially visited Ireland twice before, in May and June 1995 and in February 2002, but this tour will come after the Queen's highly successful visit to the Republic in May 2011.
Clarence House said: "At the request of the British Government, their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will visit Ireland in May.
"Their Royal Highnesses will also visit Northern Ireland in the same period. The four-day visit to both countries will take place from 19th to 22nd May 2015.
"Planning is still in progress and more details will be released in due course."
Lord Mountbatten was killed in an attack that took place on one of the most violent days in the history of the Troubles.
On August 27 1979, a remote-control IRA bomb blew apart a pleasure boat carrying Lord Mountbatten at Mullaghmore in Co Sligo, a village on Ireland's north-west coast where his family often enjoyed holidays.
The 79-year-old - who was the Queen's cousin and had a close relationship with Charles - was killed along with three of his boating party.
Within hours of the Mullaghmore murders, 18 British troops died in an IRA ambush at Warrenpoint in Co Down on Ireland's north-east coast. The attack recorded the biggest loss of life for the Army during the decades of violence in Northern Ireland.
Mullaghmore, while synonymous with the IRA assassination, has remained a popular beauty spot and destination for sea anglers, holidaymakers and, in more recent years, big-wave surfers from around the world.
Under the shadow of Ben Bulben, the north Sligo region is closely associated with WB Yeats, who is buried a few miles away in the graveyard in Drumcliffe.
Lissadell House was a holiday retreat for the poet and has undergone extensive restoration since it was bought by the Cassidy family in 2003.
The Prince and Duchess are also likely to visit the capital, Dublin, and attend formal events with Ireland's President, Michael D Higgins, whom they met during his state visit to the UK last year.
The Queen's tour of the Irish Republic four years ago - the first state visit by a British monarch - was hailed as historic and was seen as the start of a new era in relations between Britain and the Republic.
In a speech at the Irish Embassy in 2010, Charles highlighted the importance of Ireland for himself and his wife.
He said: "The ancient land of Ireland does have a remarkable tradition of cultural and spiritual creativity. It can be a powerful magic for some and I can only say that the magic has worked itself on both of us."
Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, welcomed the trip.
"Following the reciprocal state visits of recent years, this visit to Ireland will represent a further expression of the warm and friendly relations which now exist between us," he said.
"We look forward to their arrival next month, and to a visit programme which reflects the quality of these relations."
Sligo mayor Tom McSharry said the visit will be a chance to put the region on the world map.
"We can't underestimate the significance of it and it's a great opportunity for Sligo to showcase its true beauty," he said.
"It's equally as significant as the Queen's visit to Dublin (and Cork) and shows how far we have moved to heal the relationships that might have been fractured in the past.
"It's a massive boost for tourism and, hopefully, no more than what President Obama's visit to Ireland did for tourism, it will increase the numbers of English tourists to the region."
Belfast Telegraph Digital