PHOTOS - Queen's historic visit photo gallery

The Queen of England has stepped foot on the sacred sod at Croke Park – 91 years after crown forces killed 14 players and fans in the original Bloody Sunday massacre.

The British monarch and her husband Phillip were presented with hurlers by GAA president Christy Cooney who acknowledged the Bloody Sunday deaths as he greeted the monarch.

Tipperary footballer Michael Hogan and 13 others lost their lives when Black and Tans invaded Croke Park in November 1920 in retaliation for a raid by Michael Collins’ forces the night before.

“You can play with that in the back garden at Buckingham Palace,” joked the GAA president as he showed Prince Phillip how to swing a hurley.

Security was again tight as protestors mounted demonstrations close to the GAA headquarters but never got within hearing distance of the Royal party.

The Queen, accompanied by Irish President Mary McAleese and British Foreign Minister William Hague was given a guided tour of the Croke Park stadium by Cooney and GAA officials.

She saw a video of the history of the games of hurling and gaelic football, met children bedecked in the county jerseys of all 32 counties and London and New York and met several footballers and hurlers.

An Irish dance troupe also entertained Elizabeth II before she viewed the Sam Maguire and Liam McCarthy Cups, presented annually to the winners of the All-Ireland titles in football and hurling respectively.

Like so many Croke Park finalists before her, Queen Elizabeth was driven up Jones Road and entered the famous stadium via the Hogan Stand early on Wednesday afternoon.

The Queen was presented with a leather bound history of the GAA while Prince Phillip received a sliothar to go with his hurling stick.

“The Queen’s visit to Croke Park will help with the advancement of the Northern Ireland peace process,” said GAA president Christy Cooney.

“The visit has honored the Association. We have consistently supported and helped advance the peace process and our support has always been offered whilst acknowledging the significance of the past and those who died, including those who died in this very place.

“The Royal visit to Croke Park today will underpin and advance that peace process.”

Making reference to the recent murder of Catholic policeman Ronan Kerr, a GAA member, in Omagh, Cooney added: “I am also very heartened by the utter and united determination of people and political leaders across the island, and across the whole community, to stand together against violence and hatred.”

Addressing the Queen directly, he said: “Your presence does honour to our Association, to its special place in Irish life, and to its hundreds of thousands of members. Today will go down in the history of the GAA.”

Music for the visit was provided by the Artane Band who traditionally entertain the crowds on All-Ireland final day.



PHOTOS - Queen's historic visit photo gallery

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