Charles hails ‘remarkable’ Kerry as he finally visits Irish county
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall met Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan.
The Prince of Wales hailed his visit to Kerry as remarkable after fulfilling a long-time ambition to see the scenic Irish county known as the Kingdom.
Charles expressed his delight as he and Camilla were treated to some traditional Irish music and art at the National Folk Theatre in the town of Tralee.
Outside the Siamsa Tire theatre, the design of which is inspired by the ancient Ring Forts of Kerry, the heir to the throne was asked how he had enjoyed the county.
“Remarkable,” he replied.
“At last I got a chance to see Kerry.”
Earlier, schoolchildren lined the path leading to the landmark building, with Charles and Camilla stopping to say hello as they made their way inside.
The name of the theatre, Siamsa Tire, means rural merriment or fun.
The company is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its summer performance seasons in 2018.
The royals were welcomed with a performance from the theatre’s choir and then watched dancers rehearse a performance of the hard-shoe style of Munnix, which is unique to the north Kerry area.
They moved to the main auditorium to see a reprise of the first performance from 50 years ago, a dramatisation of rural life in Ireland called Fado Fado.
Around 37,000 visitors pack the 350-seat theatre between May and September every year.
After the show the couple were presented with a piece of slate from Valentia Island off the Kerry coast,the same material used to roof the Palace of Westminster.
They were also given bodhran drums.
The theatre’s artistic director Jonathan Kelliher said everyone had been really looking forward to the royal visit.
“There has been a buzz around here for weeks now with anticipation and we are so delighted it went so well,” he said.
“I think the prince and duchess were blown away by what they saw.”
The prince was even saying he might be a bit too old to take up dancing himself, but he’d like to try it Jonathan Kelliher, artistic director
Mr Kelliher, a talented dancer himself, joined in one of the routines put on for the royal couple.
“The prince was even saying he might be a bit too old to take up dancing himself, but he’d like to try it,” he joked.
Among those introduced to the royal couple during their tour was 93-year-old Kathleen O’Shea, who served in the British Army for almost 30 years, including during the Second World War.
“During the war years the Queen served in the ATS, the Auxiliary Territorial Service, and I served in that as well,” she said.
The pensioner from Tralee, who wore her medals for the occasion, said she was delighted to meet Charles and Camilla.
“It was very pleasant,” she said.
Mayor of Kerry John Sheahan said: “Today is the kind of day we have been waiting for for a long, long time.
“It’s an absolutely massive lift to the county.
“I think we’ll see a lot of English people coming here now because of the exposure and the reception they have received.
“There has been no stone unturned to do the very best. When this is televised in England it will do only good things, it’ll be very helpful for Ireland.
“It is the first time I have met royalty so I am embracing that moment.”
Before departing for their next engagement, Charles stopped outside the theatre to be shown some local food produce and to tour a nearby biodiversity area.