Queen Elizabeth II’s historic trip to Ireland is throwing up parallels with previous royal visits to Ireland, particularly those of Queen Victoria, the present monarch’s great-great grandmother.
The royal history books show Victoria visited the island four times during her reign, when she threw the spotlight firmly on Ireland as a destination fit for a queen.
Victoria’s affection for Ireland began as a young woman, and she’s reported to have fallen in love with scenic Killarney in County Kerry in the southwest of the island.
Her third official visit to Ireland, in 1861, took in four days in Kerry, putting it firmly on the international map as a holiday hotspot.
It remains one of Ireland’s most popular places to this day, and travellers can still visit attractions made famous by Britain’s longest reigning monarch to date.
Ladies View in the heart of the stunning Killarney National Park is one of the best known. A popular stopping point along the world-famous Ring of Kerry, Ladies View is named after Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting who were taken to the area during the royal visit of 1861. They were so enraptured with the view it was named after them.
Ladies View provides truly spectacular vista over the Lakes of Killarney, including the Gap of Dunloe, the Black Valley and the 15th-century Ross Castle. A gift shop, cafe and bar at the viewpoint now offer the visitor a number of reasons for stopping there.
Muckross House and Gardens, one of County Kerry’s most popular visitor attractions, also owes its fame largely to Victoria. The royal party stayed two nights there as guests of the Herbert family during the 1861 visit. The Herberts had carried out elaborate preparations, commissioning tapestries, mirrors, Persian carpets, silverware, musical instruments, linen, china and servants uniforms for the occasion. The curtains that still hang in the Muckross House dining room were specially woven for the occasion.
Restored to its original Victorian splendour, Muckross House and Gardens are open to the public. Visitors can enjoy wandering through the mansion, taking a turn around the beautiful walled garden, and dropping into the craft shop.
Although Queen Elizabeth II is not including County Kerry in her itinerary, she will be giving the royal seal of approval to the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary, as well sites in Dublin, Kildare, and Cork.
The Irish are hoping she will echo the words of Victoria who, although famously often ‘not amused,' was very positive about Ireland.
“I am very sorry to leave Ireland. I have had an extremely pleasant time,” she said at the end of her last official visit to the Emerald Isle in 1900.