News, Culture & Society

Prince Charles and Camilla visit Northern Ireland

Prince Charles proved he was no dab hand at DIY on Wednesday during a visit to County Tyrone.  

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall got a taste of rural Northern Irish village life as they dropped in on a community centre this afternoon.

Charles even had a go at making an ornamental wooden wheelbarrow in the Men’s Shed section of the complex, which the duchess had earlier admired as ‘lovely’.

However, the heir to the throne looked more than puzzled as he was handed a power drill in order to secure a section of a wheelbarrow.

The Prince of Wales looked bemused after being handed a drill during a visit to a community centre in County Tyrone 

‘I’ll just step out of the way,’ said Camilla, with a chuckle.

After an initial struggle a local carpenter stepped in to assist the 69-year-old royal who remained in good spirits throughout. 

Gaelic football, rare breed sheep, biodiversity, traditional music and natural remedies for animals were among the experiences on the menu for the royal couple at Owenkillew Community Centre in the village of Gortin on Wednesday. 

Earlier, the prince took a keen interest in a Gaelic football demonstration, inquiring whether the game was as rough as hurling.

Charles needed a helping hand from a carpenter as he secured a section of a wheelbarrow

Charles needed a helping hand from a carpenter as he secured a section of a wheelbarrow

Following his carpentry efforts the Prince enjoyed a refreshing drink on offer at the event

Following his carpentry efforts the Prince enjoyed a refreshing drink on offer at the event

Louise Mossey, 19, from Badoney Ladies GAC in the village explained how it worked.

‘He was asking whether it was mixed or boys and girls, and about how often you use your hand,’ she said.

‘Then he also asked whether it was as rough as hurling which he had had a go at in Kilkenny. It felt really weird to be talking to a prince.’

Charles also admired some sheep that had been brought to show him, particularly Selina Beattie’s Valais Blacknose sheep from Switzerland, and joked as children queued up to feed them that they had never had it so good.

‘He said he had never seen them before, we got them from Switzerland, and he was interested to know about how we oil their horns and wool,’ she said.

While the population of Gortin is just 400, it seemed like most had turned out for the very special visitor, with lines eager for the chance to meet the prince as he made his way inside the main hall to meet people from local groups and businesses.

June Cochrane showed the prince a spinning wheel and presented him with a Viking-era sash.

‘He asked me did I like using the spinning wheel, I said I’d rather walk the dogs, just like his mother, although I don’t have as many dogs as her,’ Mrs Cochrane said.

Tribute: The The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall laid a floral tribute at the site of one of the biggest mass killings of the Northern Ireland conflict

Tribute: The The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall laid a floral tribute at the site of one of the biggest mass killings of the Northern Ireland conflict

Tribute: Charles and Camilla visited a memorial garden dedicated to the 29 people and two unborn babies killed by the Real IRA Omagh car bomb blast in August 1998

Tribute: Charles and Camilla visited a memorial garden dedicated to the 29 people and two unborn babies killed by the Real IRA Omagh car bomb blast in August 1998

‘The sash was made by tablet weaving which I also do, it was something worn by the Vikings.’

Meanwhile, both Charles and Camilla took an interest in Mother Bee, a local brand of healing remedies for animals.

‘Just beautiful,’ Camilla declared after sniffing one of the pots of the secret family recipe.

Brand owner Cheryl McWilliams is the fourth generation of her family to make the recipe, but the first to bring it to market.

‘The recipe has been handed down the generations, it can be used on all animals and helps heal wounds in weeks that might otherwise have taken months to heal,’ she said.

‘It’s also now being tested for humans. I gave them some pots of it so we’ll see what happens.’

Owenkillew Community Centre opened in 1999 on a seven acre site in the heart of Gortin, including a 55 bed hostel, outdoor activity centre and community garden which was set up in 2012. In 2016 the complex expanded with a Men’s Shed.

Warm welcome: The shopping street was lined with well-wishers who cheered the royal couple and waved flags

Warm welcome: The shopping street was lined with well-wishers who cheered the royal couple and waved flags

Centre manager Angela O’Brien said the visit had been a great day for the whole community.

‘It was a chance to show off a thriving rural community in the west of Ireland that not many know about,’ she said.

‘We gave them a taste of Tyrone village life, and it’s been a great day celebrating all sections of this beautiful community.’

The beginning of the day took a more somber tone as the Prince of Wales has laid a floral tribute at the site of one of the biggest mass killings of the Northern Ireland conflict.

The Duchess of Cornwall speak to emergency services as they mark the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing at Memorial Garden and Strule Arts Centre

The Duchess of Cornwall speak to emergency services as they mark the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing at Memorial Garden and Strule Arts Centre

He and the Duchess of Cornwall visited a memorial garden dedicated to the 29 people and two unborn babies killed by the Real IRA Omagh car bomb blast in August 1998.

There were emotional scenes as they met paramedics, firefighters and police officers who had to deal with the carnage.

Charles and Camilla walked up the main street of the Co Tyrone market town past the site of the blast. 

Terror: 29 people were killed after a bomb was detonated in Market Street, Omagh almost 20 years ago

Terror: 29 people were killed after a bomb was detonated in Market Street, Omagh almost 20 years ago

The shopping street was lined with well-wishers who cheered the royal couple and waved flags.  

Paramedic John Taylor from Dungannon was one of the first to respond in 1998.

He said: ‘You walk up the street and you can still see the scene. Even when I drive through Omagh here I can still see the scene.

‘We should talk more about it, it takes the pressure off. We work with trauma every day and this definitely stands out.

‘The atmosphere that day, there was an eerie silence, you could hear sirens and firemen shouting different instructions and people but there was an eerie silence in the whole place. Every time I drive through it – it brings me back.’

Charles also met hospital nurses who treated dozens of victims. All bar two were stabilised.

He toured Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex, which opened a year ago.

Charles meets Mary Shields in the palliative care unit as he visits Omagh Hospital as part of his tour of Northern Ireland on Wednesday

Charles meets Mary Shields in the palliative care unit as he visits Omagh Hospital as part of his tour of Northern Ireland on Wednesday

Charles, who touched down in Belfast yesterday, spent time chatting to patients in palliative care at nearby Omagh Hospital. 

Charles began his day with a solo engagement at the hospital in Co. Tyrone, and will later meet those affected by the bomb, along with members of the emergency services and residents of the town.

Charles’ tour kicked off yesterday with a visit to Belfast’s Carlisle Memorial Church where he met members of the local community; watched a performance by The Ulster Orchestra and met dancers from the nearby Indian Community Centre. 

The Prince also visited Ulster University’s Coleraine Campus to help celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Charles meets children at Omagh Hospital. He will later be joined by Camilla at the town of Omagh to meet those affected by the bomb and members of the emergency services

Charles meets children at Omagh Hospital. He will later be joined by Camilla at the town of Omagh to meet those affected by the bomb and members of the emergency services

The couple’s Ireland visit – their fourth in as many years – will highlight the partnership and friendship between the two nations, as well as the connections between their people. 

They will kick off their two-day visit to Ireland in Cork where they will be greeted with a civic reception at City Hall, hosted by the Lord Mayor.

Together, they will visit the English Market in Cork City, which was previously visited by the Queen in 2011. 

The Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Simon Coveney will accompany the couple in Cork and join them for a dinner to celebrate connections between the UK and Ireland.

Charles chats to Mary Shields. Tomorrow, he and Camill will kick off their two-day visit to Ireland in Cork where they will be greeted with a civic reception at City Hall

Charles chats to Mary Shields. Tomorrow, he and Camill will kick off their two-day visit to Ireland in Cork where they will be greeted with a civic reception at City Hall

Charles meets dialysis patient Eaimie Gormley as he visits Omagh Hospital as part of his tour of Northern Ireland

Charles meets dialysis patient Eaimie Gormley as he visits Omagh Hospital as part of his tour of Northern Ireland

The Prince of Wales meets palliative care patient John Black as he visits Omagh Hospital

The Prince of Wales meets palliative care patient John Black as he visits Omagh Hospital

On Thursday, Charles will also visit University College Cork to meet students and view cultural and historic treasures from the University’s collection. 

He will later visit the National Maritime College of Ireland and go on board an Irish Navy Service vessel to showcase the close maritime links between the two nations and to celebrate the flourishing strategic defence relationship. 

Meanwhile Camilla will visit a local refuge, which serves women and children who have suffered domestic violence, a cause that she has worked to highlight in the UK and overseas. 

The duchess will also visit the Irish National Guide Dogs Training Centre.

On Friday, the couple will travel to County Kerry to visit Derrynane House, the ancestral home of 19th century Irish Statesman Daniel O’Connell, and watch a performance at Siamse Tire Irish National Folk Theatre. 

Charles (pictured at hospital this morning) will undertake a busy itinerary of engagements, including visiting Omagh as part of commemorations on the 20th anniversary of the bombing

Charles (pictured at hospital this morning) will undertake a busy itinerary of engagements, including visiting Omagh as part of commemorations on the 20th anniversary of the bombing

Seasoned traveller: Charles, 69, has officially visited Ireland five times before including his visit to Omagh in 1998, directly following the bomb that killed 29 people

Seasoned traveller: Charles, 69, has officially visited Ireland five times before including his visit to Omagh in 1998, directly following the bomb that killed 29 people

Later, they will attend a garden party at Killarney House where they will be presented with the Order of Innisfallen, which recognises outstanding contributions to the local economy by people from outside Kerry.

In May last year, Charles and Camilla visited Northern Ireland and Ireland, including Bellaghy, Belfast, Dublin and Kilkenny.

In September last year, the couple welcomed Irish President, Michael D.Higgins and his wife Sabina Higgins, to Dumfries House in Ayrshire, Scotland to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Charles saving the estate.

The two couples also met in 2014, when Charles and Camilla welcomed Mr and Mrs Higgins in the UK. 

What happened in the Omagh boming?

On August 15, 1998 Northern Ireland’s fragile peace was shattered when a dissident republican car bomb ripped through the Co Tyrone market town of Omagh.

The attack, which came four months after the signing of the historic Good Friday Agreement, was the single deadliest atrocity in the history of the Troubles.

This is a timeline of the main events leading up to and beyond the Real IRA bomb explosion, which claimed the lives of 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins. 

Royal Ulster Constabulary police officers and firefighters inspecting the damage caused by a bomb explosion in Market Street, Omagh, Co Tyrone, in August 1998

Royal Ulster Constabulary police officers and firefighters inspecting the damage caused by a bomb explosion in Market Street, Omagh, Co Tyrone, in August 1998

Thursday August 13 1998– A red Vauxhall Cavalier – registration 91 DL 2554 – is stolen in Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, in the Irish Republic.

Saturday August 15: 2pm – The same car, now carrying the fake Northern Ireland registration MDZ 5211, is driven into Market Street, Omagh, and parked outside SD Kells clothes shop. Two male occupants are seen walking away in the direction of Campsie Road.

2.30pm – A man phones Ulster Television (UTV) newsroom with a bomb warning: ‘There’s a bomb, courthouse, Omagh, main street, 500lb, explosion 30 minutes.’ The caller gives the Real IRA codeword ‘Martha Pope’.

2.32pm – The Samaritans office in Coleraine is called with another warning. ‘Am I through to Omagh? This is a bomb warning. It’s going to go off in 30 minutes.’ The caller said the bomb was 200 yards from the courthouse. He also gave the codeword ‘Martha Pope’.

2.35pm – UTV receives another phone warning: ‘Bomb, Omagh town, 15 minutes.’ Two of these warnings were phoned from a call box in Forkhill, south Armagh. The third was made from a phone box in Newtownhamilton, also in south Armagh.

2.41pm – 5.10pm – UTV and the Samaritans both place emergency calls to the Royal Ulster Constabulary control centre. The message is immediately passed to officers in Omagh and an evacuation operation commences.

There was no street named Main Street in Omagh. The only target specified was the courthouse, which was at the top of High Street at the west end of the town. The car had actually been parked at the east end of the town, on Market Street, more than 500 yards from the court.

Police cordon off High Street and move shoppers and shop owners down to Market Street before commencing a search round the courthouse. As a result all the people who had been in Omagh town centre when the warning came through had now assembled in Market Street, yards from the red Cavalier.

Among those gathered was a group of Spanish students who were spending the summer in Buncrana. They had gone to Omagh for the day along with a number of local children from the Co Donegal town. 

3.10pm – A 500lb bomb packed in the Cavalier is detonated with a remote trigger. The explosion tears through Market Street. Shop fronts on both sides are blown back on top of customers still inside. Glass, masonry and metal tears through the crowd on the street as a fireball sweeps out from the epicentre.

Twenty-one people are killed instantly – some of their bodies were never found, such was the force of the blast. A water main under the road ruptures. Gallons of water gushes out. Some of the dead and badly injured are washed down the hill.

3.10pm – The emergency operation begins. The two ambulance crews on call at the nearby Tyrone County Hospital arrive at the scene within minutes. Survivors are already tending to the injured and covering the dead.

Civilians who had been on nearby streets also rush to the scene to help. People grab medical supplies from a chemist’s shop while linen from a draper’s is used to cover the victims.

Buses are commandeered from the nearby Ulster bus station to help take the injured to hospital. Shelves and doors are used as makeshift stretchers. As news of the attack filters through, off-duty medical personnel head for the hospital. As well as those who died, more than 300 people are injured in the blast.

Army helicopters are scrambled to help the ambulance service ferry patients from the swamped Tyrone hospital to other medical centres.

Omagh’s leisure centre is transformed into an incident centre, with hundreds of relatives gathering there waiting for news on loved ones.

Inundated with calls, the Tyrone County Hospital phone system crashes. Staff ask members of the public for mobile phones to contact other hospitals. A temporary morgue is set up in a British Army base in the town. 

Sunday August 16: Relatives of those people still unaccounted for wait at the leisure centre overnight.

12pm – The identity of the 28th victim who died on the day is revealed. Sixty-one-year Sean McGrath would die a month later from injuries suffered in the blast.

12.45pm – RUC Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan addresses the world’s press at the scene.

‘This is an attack, not carried out against the police or the Army, but against the people of Omagh.

‘We have had men, women and children slaughtered, slaughtered by murderers who want to murder, slaughtered by murderers who have nothing else to offer but murder, people who gave us a totally inaccurate warning, people who phoned to say there was a bomb close to the courthouse and as our officers searched and moved people from the area of the courthouse, a bomb detonated some 400 yards away.’

An ambulance carrying one of the injured from the Erne hospital to Belfast collides with a car. The car’s driver, 38-year-old father-of-three Gary White, is killed.

The Queen, then prime minister Tony Blair, then Irish president Mary McAleese, then Irish taoiseach Bertie Ahern, then US president Bill Clinton and local politicians all voice their condemnation.

Significantly Sinn Fein figures such as Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness also condemn the attack – the first time they had unequivocally denounced a republican terrorist bombing.

Tuesday August 18: The Real IRA admits responsibility for the attack. The group claims its target was commercial and not civilian and blames loss of life on failure of RUC to respond to ‘clear’ warnings.

Then Northern Ireland secretary Mo Mowlam describes the statement as ‘a pathetic excuse for mass murder’.

Saturday August 22 : One week after the attack a day of reflection is held. An estimated 60,000 people gather in Omagh with thousands more attending vigils in other towns and cities across Ireland.

In Omagh, a service is conducted by church leaders on the steps of the courthouse. The event is best remembered for a moving performance by local singer Juliet Turner, whose ballad Broken Things was beamed across the world.



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Do you like it? Share with your friends!


Comments are closed.