Two sixty-seven year old men, Gerry Adams and Prince Charles, shook hands over a cup of tea on a reception line on Tuesday in Galway, Ireland. They also met privately.

The Irish-British relationship will never be the same again. It was the first meeting in the Irish Republic between Sinn Fein and the royal family.

The handshake and meeting took courage on both sides. There will be many on both extremes who will cry traitor and sellout.

But they are the voices of the past, shouting into a thunderstorm, missing the historical point.

When the leader of Sinn Fein and the British king-in-waiting bury the hatchet symbolically over tea and handshakes, centuries of hurt and harm begin to slowly seep away

The handshake was both historic and symbolic. Both men represent a tradition and history that has been in conflict for almost a millennium. Hundreds of thousands have died in the length of that conflict. Horrific deeds were done.

Now that conflict is at an end, an honorable peace negotiated in Northern Ireland with much more peace work to be done.

Senator George Mitchell, the great interlocutor of the peace process, stated that the process was the most important part of the peace, that the headlines would give way to a hard daily slog.

He was right, but every so often there have to be victories, moments when the former protagonists stand back and acknowledge the other side and how far they have come.

There has been a hugely misguided effort to demonize Gerry Adams and negate his role in that peace.

Prince Charles answered those critics yesterday, on the first day of his visit to Ireland, making clear what the moment of maximum historical significance for him was.

Shaking hands and meeting with Gerry Adams was that moment.

Adams realized it too, understanding that the royal family outreach was a moment apart, one to respond to with the same generous outreach.

“Both he and we expressed our regret for what happened from 1968 onwards," Adams said.

"We were of a common mind and the fact that the meeting took place, it obviously was a big thing for him to do and a big thing for us to do."

"Big thing for him to do & a big thing for us to do" - Gerry Adams on Prince Charles handshake http://t.co/1SZxrkQmc4 pic.twitter.com/l1bTTC9XmK

— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) May 19, 2015

Both men could easily have retreated behind the bunker of atrocities committed in the case of Charles the murder of his uncle, in the case of Adams the murders by the Parachute Regiment of innocent neighbors in West Belfast.

But they chose the present and future over the past.

That is to their eternal credit, and another example of what remarkable encounters a fully fledged peace process leads to.

There was the Queen meeting Martin McGuinness; Ian Paisley at the Battle of the Boyne being greeted by Irish leader Bertie Ahern; David Trimble signing off on the Good Friday Agreement; Albert Reynolds meeting Gerry Adams. President Clinton in Belfast on a trip only fools would have dreamt of.

We need those days to remember how far peace has come.

Gerry Adams and Prince Charles added to the roll of honor yesterday.

The Prince of Wales and Gerry Adams shake hands in Galway at the first engagement of the royal visit.Getty