By the time ye are reading this the world media will be carrying all the official communiqués about the visit of Prince Charles to Co. Clare. I am writing this, chuckling away, five days before the projected royal trip to the Burren because I have just been briefed on what we will call the back story of the event.

I have to say in advance that I hope it goes well for all parties, that nothing untoward in any way occurs, and that the unique parade will not be rained upon by the almighty who is even mightier than the likely future King of England.

But I am chuckling away in high glee because of many of the dimensions of this truly extraordinary happening. Our history of these islands, often brutal and bloody and casting us as the perennial occupied victims, has seldom if ever produced such a potentially incredible kink as the arrival of the potential king of the old enemy that has visited so much pain and suffering down on top of us for centuries.

I never thought I would live to see the day. But, dammit, times change, so do national attitudes, and the visit is a positive development indeed.

Last time I was involved in reporting an event involving the royal family was when I was covering the killing of the prince’s grand uncle Lord Mountbatten in Sligo by the IRA in the high heat of a different era.

Anyway, let us relish the back story. At time of writing the Burren is crawling with British MI5 agents drawing a protective security screen around the event.

Given the English family military traditions, it is more than likely that some of these agents worked in the North, maybe in the SAS, during The Troubles. It is even possible that one or two of them have forefathers who served with the Black and Tans and the Auxies during our Troubles almost a century ago now.

And last week they were comfortably operating side by side with our Secret Service and other security elements of the Gardai (police), some of whom almost certainly have bloodlines connected with the original IRA fighters away back in 1916. History turns the pages it's own way.

It gets even more interesting than that. The official international reports about the historic visit are unlikely to carry the fact that the catering for the mouths around the event came from the innards of an old RIC barracks in Carron from which the Peelers were forced to retreat very quickly during our fight for freedom.

Totally restored and very famous through the Burren, today it is nowadays Cassidy's Pub and Restaurant and bears the name Croi Na Boirne (Heart of the Burren).

But the landlord Robert Cassidy made sure to retain one of the old cells during the restoration. It is now a showpiece rather than the hellhole in which the wild old Clare republicans were held by the Peelers so long ago.

I can visualize already some of the Irish photographers trying to lure the good prince into the cell with, of course, a pint of porter in his royal fist. That would be a more dramatic shot than the more likely ones of him examining some of the blue gentians and other exotic plants and shrubs for which the Burren is renowned.

Can I tell ye something else please, gleaned from impeccable sources. The pub that was a barracks crowns the high hill of Carron, and there is a steel fall outside the back door into the rock lands below. Over the years when the police were serving there the hole was almost filled up entirely by the cinders from a million fires and other waste.

When the Gardai raided at night to catch any after hours drinkers they never caught anybody because the locals fled out the back door and jumped the wall to freedom. That was fine until about 20 years ago when the landowner removed all the cinders and waste without spreading the word properly. The police raided

Cassidy's that night, the locals fled out the back and jumped the wall as usual.

The consequences of their plunge was awful according to all reports afterwards. There were broken arms and legs and false teeth and, within days, the area was named Beechers Brook after the most dangerous fence in the Grand National horse race in Aintree and the fabled local storyteller Paddy Hynes had a ballad of that name before the week was out. That great entertainer sings it still every chance he gets.

But my information from several sources suggests to me that, after the prince has departed Carron, bringing the media circus with him, that all those MI5 and Secret Service agents from both nations will inevitably celebrate together in total harmony in Cassidy's bar near the cell door. The craic will be mighty.

But what they do not know is that the local police, for the pure devilment of it, are likely to stage a raid late in the night to catch the after hours imbibers. And the crowd, as always, will flee out the back door. And Beechers Brook will take its ritual toll again on all those descendants of our ancient battles.

Is it any wonder I am chuckling already? Are you?

Guinness-march2019