Queen pays tribute to Ireland speaking Irish as she recalls historic personal moment

Queen’s statement was ‘genius’ says Katie Nicholl

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The Queen paid tribute to Ireland by sending her warmest wishes ahead of tomorrow – St Patrick’s Day. In a message addressed to the republic’s president Michael D. Higgins, she wrote: “On the occasion of your National Day, I would like to convey to Your Excellency my congratulations, together with my best wishes to the people of Ireland.”

The monarch went on recalling her historic visit to Ireland, which took place a decade ago.

She said: “This year marks 10 years since my visit to Ireland, which I remember fondly, and it marks a significant centenary across these islands.

“We share ties of family, friendship and affection – the foundation of our partnership that remains as important today as 10 years ago.”

The Queen ended her message by wishing the country a happy St Patrick’s Day in Irish.

She wrote: “Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona daoibh go léir.”

President Higgins issued a response to the British monarch, thanking her for her wishes.

He wrote: “Ar son muintir na hÉireann, on behalf of the people of Ireland, I would like to extend my warmest appreciation for your good wishes on our national day.

“Your special memory of your visit to Ireland 10 years ago this year, is one that is shared and invoked regularly by all of us in Ireland, being as it was in its generosity of spirit such a moment of healing.

“It has done so much to deepen our shared sense of the breadth and vibrancy of the connections between our two countries at every level.

“It will continue to inspire the achievement of those possibilities in the future that we might share.

“We know St. Patrick’s Day will be celebrated in the hearts of generations of Irish people who have made their home in Britain, and their British friends and family – as well as by the many British people who have happily made their home here.

“I know that the movement and circulation of our peoples is a source of continuing joy for us both.”

He ended his message saying: “Guím Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona agus síochánta ort agus ar do mhuintir.”

The Queen made history on May 17, 2011, when she became the first reigning British monarch to visit the Republic of Ireland.

Her grandfather King George V was the last British king to tour the region, back to when the full island was part of the United Kingdom.

During her three-day visit alongside Prince Philip, the Queen delivered a speech at Dublin Castle in which she spoke about the past conflict between the islands.

She said: “Indeed so much of this visit reminds us of the complexity of our history, its many layers and traditions, but also the importance of forbearance and conciliation, of being able to bow to the past but not be bound by it.

“Of course the relationship has not always been straightforward; nor has the record over the centuries been entirely benign.

“It is a sad and regrettable reality that through history our islands have experienced more than their fair share of heartache, turbulence and loss.”

The Queen’s visit was reciprocated by Mr Higgins in 2014, when he became president of the republic.

Other members of the Royal Family have visited Ireland in recent years.

In July 2018, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry held official meetings with President Higgins and former Taoiseach Leo Varadkar before visiting some of Dublin’s most important landmarks.

Among the duties carried out, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex rang the Peace Bell at Áras an Uachtaráin, designed to mark the 10th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement.

Last year, just weeks before the coronavirus pandemic forced both Ireland and the UK to enforce lockdown measures, Kate and Prince William also visited Dublin, where they met President Higgins and his wife, key workers who were already dealing with COVID-19 and a broad range of people from the creative arts, sport, business and charity sectors.

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