Queen visits Croke Park stadium

Pa
Wednesday 18 May 2011 15:50
Comments

The Queen took centre stage at Dublin's iconic Croke Park gaelic football and hurling stadium today in a historic new act of Anglo-Irish reconciliation.

After laying separate wreaths in memory of the men and women who died fighting for independence, and the 49,000 Irish soldiers killed in the First World War, she toured the city's spectacular sporting arena in the latest engagement of an extraordinary royal visit to the Republic.

It was inside the ground in November 1920 when British soldiers shot and killed 14 civilians attending a football match - an atrocity which has lingered in Ireland ever since, especially on the terracing behind one set of goals where it happened.

Generations of hurt and mistrust created by those deaths were set aside this afternoon as the Queen, dressed in a yellow hat and coat and accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, was met at the main entrance by Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) president Christy Cooney.

President Mary McAleese, who is hosting the visit, was also there along with a party of school children, who lined up on either side wearing the colours of GAA jerseys for each of the 32 counties as well as London and New York.

Security was again tight. A group of dissident republicans protested on a street less than a kilometre away, but a heavy police presence made sure they were kept well away from the stadium, the spiritual home of hundreds of thousands of GAA fans throughout the world.

The Queen heard about the finer points of hurling and football in the stadium changing rooms where she met players from both codes. She was particularly interested in the shape of the ash hurley. She asked: "Is it like what they use in (when playing) shinty?"

At one stage she stood on the touchline at the entrance to the players' tunnel on the Hogan Stand side and watched a video on a huge screen about the history and playing of the games.

The Artane Band, which provides the music at most major GAA sporting events, played a selection of tunes and afterwards the Queen had a look at the GAA's two most famous football and hurling trophies, the Sam Maguire and Liam McCarthy cups.

The Queen met several senior GAA officials, but a number of others stayed away in protest. Of the nine Ulster counties, just one - Down - was represented.

But the GAA president said the visit would underpin and advance the peace process. He was deeply saddened to attend last month, the funeral of a GAA member, PSNI Constable Ronan Kerr.

Mr Cooney said: "I was also very heartened by the utter and united determination of people and political leaders across the island, and across the whole community, to stand together against violence and hatred."

Mr Cooney vowed the GAA would continue to reach out to unionists.

Addressing the Queen he added: "Your presence does honour to our Association, to its special place in Irish life, and to its hundreds of thousands of members. Today will go down in the history of the GAA."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in