Queen Elizabeth visits historic Irish monument

20th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II toured the Rock of Cashel, one of Ireland's most historic monuments, as she tasted tourism and gastronomic highlights Friday on the final day of her state visit.

Wearing a bright green coat with a blue dress and hat, the Queen and her husband Prince Philip flew in by helicopter from Dublin on a drizzly morning.

A striking group of medieval buildings on a limestone outcrop in County Tipperary, southwest Ireland, parts of the Rock of Cashel date from the 12th century.

Saint Patrick, Ireland's patron saint, is said to have spent time there and it is now one of the country's top tourist attractions, overlooking the "Golden Vale" area of rolling pastureland.

To the sound of applause, squawking birds and gentle harp music, the royal couple were given a tour of the 13th-century Gothic cathedral on the site.

Prince Philip, who turns 90 next month, seemed fascinated, pointing at various features.

The queen's visit has focused on healing the centuries-old wounds of history, but Ireland hopes it will also encourage more tourists from Britain.

The bailed-out country desperately needs tourists from its nearest neighbour to bolster its economy as it tries to recover from its financial collapse.

Later the queen was to visit Ireland's second city of Cork, to tour the covered English Market, which showcases some of the best of Ireland's produce.

They were also to visit the Tyndall Institute, which specialises in microelectronics research, before leaving for Britain.

Ireland's minister for agriculture and food Simon Coveney, a Corkman and one of the city's lawmakers, told reporters: "I'm really looking forward to bringing her to Cork.

"I'm confident that Cork people will really welcome her and ensure that her visit finishes off on as positive a note as the other three days have been and I hope Cork people hang out their brightest colours."

Late Thursday, the royal couple were treated to an evening of fashion, music, dance and literature in a bash thrown by the British embassy at the Dublin Convention centre.

Ireland has deployed the biggest security operation in its history to protect the first post-independence visit by a British monarch, amid threats from dissident republicans opposed to the peace process in British-ruled Northern Ireland.

Twelve people were arrested Thursday and bailed after being stopped at a Dublin railway station armed with various potential missiles, including rockets, flares and fireworks.

© 2011 AFP

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