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Royal Couple begin 2 day visit to Northern Ireland

TRHs The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall this morning commenced a 2 day visit to Northern Ireland.

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The Royal couple arrived at Enniskillen Airport, and were met on arrival by Viscount Brookebrough, Lord-Lieutenant of Co Fermanagh and The Rt Hon Andrew Robathan MP, Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office.

TRHs then travelled to their first engagement of the day – the Fermanagh County Museums. After a warm welcome by the Pipes and Drums of the Royal Irish Regiment, the Irish Arms Re-enactment Group and the Aughakillymaude Mummers in the Courtyard of the Castle, the Royal Couple visited the Drumclay Crannog Exhibition which made international headlines in 2013 when the first-ever scientific excavation of a crannog took place in Northern Ireland, resulting in a huge volume of significant finds.

HRH The Prince of Wales then moved to the Rifle Range where the Curator of the Inniskillings Museum, Neil Armstrong, gave an overview of the Museum’s history. The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers Regimental Museum was started in 1930 at the Regimental Depot at St. Lucia Barracks in Omagh, Co. Tyrone. When the regiment amalgamated in 1968, Fermanagh County Council invited them to move their museum to Enniskillen Castle – the 1688 birthplace of the regiment. Enniskillen has the unique honour of being the only town in Great Britain and Ireland to give its name to two regiments; the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (infantry) and the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards (cavalry), now part of the Royal Irish Regiment and the Royal Dragoon Guards respectively. In 2008 the museum underwent a huge redevelopment and became the Inniskillings Museum – showcasing the stories of both Inniskilling regiments.

HRH proceeded to the Castle Keep where Mr Armstrong outlined the many significant events in the Regiment’s history, including the Battle of Maida and the Battle of Waterloo. HRH also viewed the bugle that sounded the charge at the Battle of Somme during WW1.

On level 2 of the Castle Keep, HRH took the opportunity to view the Museum’s education programme, along with a number of items from the Museum’s reserve collection, which included a rich collection of personal stories, treasures, weapons, medals, uniforms and regimental silver.

Moving outside the Keep, HRH was introduced to Major (Ret’d) Colin Gray, Regimental Secretary, Royal Irish, who outlined the history of the disbandment of the Inniskilling Regiments as well as the present day links with the Royal Irish Regiment. HRH also had the opportunity to view the Museum’s vehicle display entitled ‘From Tack to Track’, which charts the evolution of the Inniskilling Dragoons from their formation as a cavalry regiment on horseback to motorisation.

Meanwhile in the Heritage Centre, Sarah McHugh, Manager of the Fermanagh County Museum invited HRH The Duchess of Cornwall to view a painting depicting Her Majesty The Queen’s historic visit to St Michael’s Roman Catholic Church following the 2012 Diamond Jubilee Service in St McCartin’s Church of Ireland, and met the artist, Hector McDonnell.

HRH also viewed a display of Belleek China, for which Co Fermanagh is famous, before moving on to the Bog Butter artefact discovered by a local farmer whilst cutting turf. There was also the opportunity to see the traditional methods of butter making in the adjacent Kitchen scene located in the museum.

HRH then attended a reception in the 1881 building which was attended by around 120 guests drawn from a wide range of organisations associated with the museum. The Duchess of Cornwall had the opportunity to view some of the exhibitions from Action Mental Health, including local basket-makers, and sample some flavoursome Co Fermanagh produce.

Before departure, the Royal guests were presented with gifts to remind them of their visit to Co Fermanagh. HRH The Prince of Wales received a Lough Melvin Gosling Trout Fly in a presentation frame, hand-crafted by Frankie McPhillips. HRH The Duchess of Cornwall received a Fermanagh Silver Birch Wooden Bowl, handcrafted by local woodturner, Brendan Bannon.

Published 1 April 2014