I’m writing this from Cork, Ireland’s second largest city and in true “second city syndrome” fashion proclaimed loudly by its citizens to be the the “real capital”. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth has just concluded her hugely successful and historic visit to Ireland with a few hours here in Cork.
It is safe to say that the visit to Cork capped what has been an incredible week in Anglo-Irish relations in the most fantastic way possible. Milions of viewers all over the world will have seen a spick and span Cork City Centre bathed in bright sunlight with its citizens loudly cheering the royal visitors at their every appearance.
The Queen and Prince Phillip visited “The English Market” in the heart of the city to see the best Cork has to offer in fresh artisanal food and it looked magnificent. The market which dates from 1788 has had a chequered past but in the past fifteen years has gone from strength to strength and is one of the most popular visitor attractions in the city. It is of course a mecca for foodies and repays repeated visits as you uncover the mouthwatering delights at every turn within the compact indoor market.
The greatest delight perhaps, at the end of a week heavy with ceremony and symbolism, was the unexpected brief walkabout of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip and their interaction with the crowds on the Grand Parade. A moment of unscripted delight for the citizens of Cork and the TV pictures most hoped for in the tourism business here in Ireland.
An unintended consequence of this politically important week may well be the new sense of purpose and self-confidence that this visit has engendered in the population of this country which has suffered more than its share of slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in recent years. For this and so much more we have much to be grateful for this week.