Belfast Telegraph

It’s game on for Harry and Meghan as royals enjoy visit to Croke Park

Harry and Meghan meet President Michael Higgins and his wife Sabina at Aras an Uachtarain
Harry and Meghan meet President Michael Higgins and his wife Sabina at Aras an Uachtarain
The Duchess of Sussex greets well-wishers in Dublin on the final day of the royal couple’s visit
The Duke of Sussex has his beard stroked by a child in Croke Park
Meghan with a hurling stick at the stadium
The couple visit the Famine Memorial on the bank of the River Liffey
Meghan with fans Emma Boden and Sophie Maher
Patrick O'Neill from Belfast

By Kirsty Blake Knox

The royals can fit a lot into 24 hours.

A garden party, tussling with the Irish President's dogs, multiple costume changes, thousands of handshakes, a potted history of the Great Famine, and a glass of Guinness no less.

Yesterday, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, continued their two-day tour of Dublin with a visit to GAA headquarters in Croke Park.

Last year Prince Charles nearly took out some of the Press corps with the ball when he had a go at hurling in the grounds of Kilkenny Castle.

His son, however, was slightly more reticent - politely declining the opportunity to do the same on the hallowed turf of Croke Park.

Instead, he spoke to Galway All-Ireland winner Joe Canning about the World Cup as Meghan skilfully navigated her way across the wet grass in stiletto heels. No easy task.

Harry told Canning he heard he was "something of a God", but the UK photographers were less taken by the hurling legend.

They urged Canning to "get out of the shot" - much to the bemusement of the Irish Press.

Among those waiting to meet the royals were Tom Whooley (8) from Clonakilty in Co Cork and Cara Leonard (12) from Omagh in Co Tyrone.

Tom handed Harry his hurley. "It's much lighter than I expected," said the prince, lifting it in the air.

He also examined Tom's helmet and face-guard. "Have you taken a ball in the face - or have you put a ball in someone else's face?" he joked.

Earlier in the day a rogue reporter had broken with royal protocol and screamed "Is it coming home?" at the Duke during his meeting with Irish President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina.

A boy strokes the Duke of Sussex's beard, during a visit to Croke Park, on day two of their visit to Dublin, Ireland (Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)
A boy strokes the Duke of Sussex's beard, during a visit to Croke Park, on day two of their visit to Dublin, Ireland (Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - JULY 11: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit the Famine Memorial at Custom House Quay on the second day of their official two day royal visit to Ireland on July 11, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland. The statues commemorate the Great Famine of the mid 19th century, during which a million people died and a million more emigrated. It is the royal couple's first foreign trip together since they were married earlier this year. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex at the Famine Memorial, on the second day of their visit to Dublin, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 11, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Sussex. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex signs the visitor's book during a visit with Britain's Prince Harry to Trinity College in Dublin on the final day of their two day visit on July 11, 2018. The Duke and Duchess will view the historic Book of Kells and visit The Long Room of the Old Library at Trinity College, which contains the oldest harp in Ireland. Built between 1712 and 1732, the iconic Long Room holds the collection's 200,000 oldest books. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Sam BoalSAM BOAL/AFP/Getty Images
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex with Trinity, Provost and President, Dr Patrick Prendergast and College Librarian, Helen Shenton in the Long Room of the Old Library as part of their visit to Trinity College Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 11, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Sussex. Photo credit should read: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie/PA Wire
DUBLIN, IRELAND - JULY 11: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit Croke Park, home of Ireland's largest sporting organisation, the Gaelic Athletic Association during their visit to Ireland on July 11, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Chris Jackson - Pool/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (centre left) chats with a young boy in a wheelchair during a visit with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (2nd L) to Croke Park (Getty Images)
The Duke of Sussex gives a high five to Walter Cullen, 3, prior to him touching the Duchess of Sussex's hair during during a visit to Croke Park on the second day of their visit to Dublin, Ireland. Picture date: Wednesday July 11, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Sussex. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on a walkabout at Trinity College during their visit to Dublin, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 11, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Sussex. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on a walkabout at Trinity College during their visit to Dublin, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 11, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Sussex. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
The Duke of Sussex is presented with a hurley and a sliothar by Nathan Charney Kiely after watching a Gaelic games demonstration during a visit to Croke Park on the second day of his visit to Dublin, Ireland. Picture date: Wednesday July 11, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Sussex. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (4th L) and wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (6th L) visit Croke Park, home of the Gaelic football association in Dublin on the final day of their two day visit on July 11, 2018. During the visit, Britain's Prince Harry and wife Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex walk on the pitch where they observe traditional Gaelic sports being played, such as hurling, camogie and rounders. / AFP PHOTO / Paul FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex with players as they pose for a family photo at Croke Park on the second day of their visit to Dublin, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 11, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Sussex. Photo credit should read: Chris Jackson/PA Wire
DUBLIN, IRELAND - JULY 11: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex speaks to young players at Croke Park, home of Ireland's largest sporting organisation, the Gaelic Athletic Association during her visit with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, to Ireland on July 11, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Chris Jackson - Pool/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - JULY 11: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit Croke Park museum, home of Ireland's largest sporting organisation, the Gaelic Athletic Association during their visit to Ireland on July 11, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are shown club crests by GAA President John Horan (right) during a visit to Croke Park with Tanaiste Simon Coveney (left) on the second day of their visit to Dublin, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 11, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Sussex. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex at Croke Parkon the second day of their visit to Dublin, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 11, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Sussex. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex with President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina at Aras an Uachtarain on the second day of the royal visit to Dublin, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 11, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Sussex. Photo credit should read: Clodagh Kilcoyne/PA Wire
Irish government handout photo of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex ringing the Peace Bell in the grounds of Aras an Uachtarain as they meet President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina on the second day of their visit to Dublin, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 11, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Sussex. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Irish government handout photo of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex with President Michael D Higgins, his wife Sabina and their dogs Brod and Sioda at Aras an Uachtarain on the second day of their visit to Dublin, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 11, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Sussex. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Irish government handout photo of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex with President Michael D Higgins, his wife Sabina and their dogs Brod and Sioda at Aras an Uachtarain on the second day of their visit to Dublin, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 11, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Sussex. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arriving to meet Michael Higgins at Aras an Uactharain on the second day of the Royal couple's visit to Dublin, Ireland (Joe Giddens/PA Wire)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arriving to meet Michael Higgins at Aras an Uactharain on the second day of the Royal couple's visit to Dublin, Ireland (Joe Giddens/PA Wire)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - JULY 10: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend a reception at Glencairn, the residence of Robin Barnett, the British Ambassador to Ireland during day one of their visit to Ireland on July 10, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Geoff Pugh - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - JULY 10: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex chats with Sinead Burke, writer and advocate of fashion and disability rights during a reception at Glencairn, the residence of Robin Barnett, the British Ambassador to Ireland during day one of their visit to Ireland on July 10, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Geoff Pugh - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - JULY 10: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend a reception at Glencairn, the residence of Robin Barnett, the British Ambassador to Ireland during day one of their visit to Ireland on July 10, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Geoff Pugh - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The Duke of Sussex makes a speech as he attends a Summer Party at the British Ambassador's residence at Glencairn House, during a visit to Dublin, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 10, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Sussex. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex at Government Buildings during a meeting with Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar as part of their visit to Dublin, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 10, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Sussex. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
DUBLIN, IRELAND - JULY 10: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend a reception at Glencairn, the residence of Robin Barnett, the British Ambassador to Ireland during day one of their visit to Ireland on July 10, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Geoff Pugh - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - JULY 10:Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends a reception at Glencairn, the residence of Robin Barnett, the British Ambassador to Ireland during day one of their visit to Ireland on July 10, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Geoff Pugh - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are greeted by the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (R) at the start of a two-day visit to Dublin, Ireland on July 10, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / CLODAGH KILCOYNECLODAGH KILCOYNE/AFP/Getty Images
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex sign the visitor book watched by Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar (right) at Government Buildings during their visit to Dublin, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 10, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Sussex. Photo credit should read: Clodagh Kilcoyne/PA Wire
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex talk with Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar (left) at Government Buildings, during their visit to Dublin, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 10, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Sussex. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

"Most definitely, yes," he replied smiling.

It was the fourth time Harry has met the President, most recently in July 2016 at an event marking the Battle of the Somme.

Both Harry and Meghan seemed particularly taken with the President's dogs Brod and Sioda, who plonked themselves at Meghan's feet.

Across the city, in the grounds of Trinity College, crowds with posters and placards started to build. There was a shriek of excitement when the couple emerged from the historic Long Room and embarked on a 25-minute walkabout.

David Balfany, on holiday from the US, said he invited Meghan to a reunion at Northwestern University, where they were both students. "She told me she didn't think she would be able to make it," he laughed.

Pauline Beatty was delighted to have got a hug and a kiss from Harry. "When I asked him for the hug he said: 'I can't hug you because then I'll have to hug everybody else.' So I just grabbed him. He was scarlet."

The walkabout proved to be thirsty work, so the couple made their way to the Delahunt restaurant on Camden Street for lunch where they shared an intimate table in the glass-panelled snug.

They enjoyed a starter of smoked salmon on Guinness bread, followed by roast hake, curried mussels and saffron potato (for her), and salt-aged sirloin of Irish lamb with pressed potato (for him). Apparently, Meghan enjoyed a glass of Guinness with their meal.

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