Cashel to reap huge dividend from royal visit
• SF Mayor’s greeting a highlight

Aileen Hahesy

Aileen Hahesy

Tourism Ireland has embarked on a massive marketing campaign in Britain to entice more UK visitors to the Rock of Cashel on the back of the massive success of Queen Elizabeth 11’s visit to the heritage site, which included a groundbreaking welcome from the Mayor of Cashel Cllr Michael Browne, who is a Sinn Fein councillor.

Tourism Ireland commissioned film footage of the Rock of Cashel and the wonderful scenery around has been distributed to media around Britain in the wake of the historic royal visit to the heritage site.

Key travel and lifestyle media contacts have been invited by Tourism Ireland to come and visit Cashel and the the other locations around Ireland on the Queen’s itinerary.

“We are working flat out to exploit this unique opportunity to highlight Cashel and Ireland as a wonderful holiday destination, not only in Great Britain and the US, but in other markets around the world,” said Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gubbins, who met the Queen during her tour of the Rock of Cashel.

During the Queen’s visit to Ireland, TV ads promoting the Rock of Cashel and Ireland were aired on key channels including ITV 1, 2 and 3, Channel 4 and a range of satellite channels. And more than five million radio listeners around Britain heard Tourism Ireland’s new radio campaign featuring the Rock of Cashel.

Last Friday morning began as a wet and overcast day but miraculously the rain dried up, the clouds cleared to reveal blue skies and the sun shone as the helicopter transporting the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh landed at the Hoare Abbey Field.

The Rock of Cashel looked resplendent as the Queen arrived and photography and camera shots of the heritage site and the stunning scenery around it were captured by the national and international press and TV crews.

Meanwhile, Mayor of Cashel Cllr Michael Browne has been widely praised for his decision to defy his party, Sinn Fein, and welcome Queen Elizabeth to Cashel.

Cllr Browne also defied serious ill health to make it to the Rock of Cashel last Friday to greet the British monarch on behalf of the people of his hometown. It’s believed he may have been the first ever Sinn Fein politician to meet Queen Elizabeth 11.

“I just said I welcome you to Cashel your majesty and I hope you enjoy your stay in Cashel,” Cllr Browne told The Nationalist afterwards. “She just said thanks very much. I am glad I met her. I can only see that her visit can do good. You could be protesting all your life...” said the 63 year-old, from Oliver Plunkett Park, Cashel.

Cllr Browne, who was Sinn Fein’s South Tipperary candidate in the general election in February, said the royal visit was a very big occasion for Cashel, Co. Tipperary and Ireland and he hoped it would generate a lot of goodwill between the Irish and English peoples as well as boost tourism and the economy.

“We are in fierce hard economic times and the fact she has come here might encourage more tourists to visit. If the economy is to take off again that is the sort of money we have to get into the country, “ he said.

Two Ministers of State who were at the Rock of Cashel to greet the Queen last Friday have praised Cllr Browne’s stance, which made headlines internationally.

Minister of State Alan Kelly, from Portroe, said Cllr Browne was excellent in the performance of his duties for the occasion and his family should be very proud while Minister of State for the OPW Brian Hayes described Cllr Browne’s decision to welcome the Queen as an “extraordinary act of courage and patriotism”.

Deputy Mayor of Cashel Cllr Maribel Wood, who initiated the motion at Cashel Town Council to invite Queen Elizabeth to Cashel, said there were tears of happiness in her eyes because the Mayor was present to welcome the monarch. “Fair play to him. In every way, he is a big man to do what he did. He showed courage and determination to be here today,” she told The Nationalist.

The Sinn Fein party has criticised Cllr Browne’s decision and during the royal visit to the Rock, a small group of local Sinn Fein members, including Cllr Browne’s brother Martin, staged a peaceful protest at the junction of Canopy Street and Ladyswell in Cashel.

The security around Cashel before and during the Queen’s visit was massive. An estimated 600 gardai from all over the country were on duty in the Cashel area for the royal visit and major traffic restrictions were in place around the town from the Thursday evening. Gardai were even posted around the Rock throughout the night before the royal visit.

Sergeant John Cadogan of Cashel Garda Station said he would like to acknowledge and thank the residents and business owners of Cashel and the surrounding area for the patience, kindness and generosity they had shown over the weeks preceding the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Cashel.

“From a policing perspective, the visit was a massive logistical operation requiring Gardai from surrounding divisions and regions supported by national and regional services within An Garda Siochana.

“The success of the operation clearly demonstrated what could be achieved through a close working partnership between An Garda Siochana and the community it serves, “ he said.

County Manager Billy McEvoy, who was also among the local dignitaries to greet the Queen and Prince Philip at the Rock, paid tribute to the people and businesses of Cashel as well as Town Council and Co. Council staff in the Cashel area for the huge effort they put in to sprucing up Cashel in the weeks before the royal visit. He said Cashel looked great on the day and believes the town will reap the benefits from the royal visit in the years to come.