On this day in 1901, Queen Victoria, then Monarch of Great Britain and Ireland, died, a monarch who is said to have fallen head over heels in love with Ireland throughout visits she made there during her reign. The royal history books show Victoria visited the island four times during which she threw the spotlight firmly on Ireland as a destination fit for a queen.
The queen'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 travelers 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, café, 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 splendor, 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 did not including County Kerry in her itinerary when she visited in 2011, she did give the royal seal of approval to the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary, as well sites in Dublin, Kildare, and Cork.
The Irish hoped she would echo the words of Victoria who, although famously often ‘not amused,' was very positive about Ireland and it seems that the current Queen of England loved the place as much as her great grandmother.
“I am very sorry to leave Ireland. I have had an extremely pleasant time,” Victoria said at the end of her last official visit to the Emerald Isle in 1900.
In 2011, a document was auctioned in Ireland outlining the fuss and ceremony surrounding this last visit in 2011. The Irish Office of Public Works (OPW) file included 200 different documents regarding the trip in total including descriptions of the "misplaced" royal yacht and the last-minute preparations.
Telegrams, going between London and Dublin, show that the royal yacht was "lost" temporarily just days before the 1900 visit. The admiralty in London informed Dublin that the yacht had already been sent. The Irish officials responded saying they couldn't find it. Two days later a telegram from London arrived admitting that the yacht was, in fact, off the south of England.
Among the rest of the file are orders to keep the sound of trains and mail boats to a minimum so as not to disturb Queen Victoria, orders for special flags as well as complaints about a new wooden pier built specifically for her.
"There seems to have been a lot of panic among civil servants about Queen Victoria's visit. They wanted to know the length of the royal yacht so that they could build a special place in the harbor…Then the Admiralty misplaced the boat. There were no computers or tracking devices in those days," auctioneer Ian Whyte told the BBC.
H/T: Discover Ireland