Cashel is looking its best and its people are ready to extend a massive Cead Mile Failte to Queen Elizabeth 11 and the Duke of Edinburgh when they visit the Rock of Cashel on Friday before paying a private visit to the world famous Coolmore Stud.
The school choir from Cashel Community School will perform for the British monarch during her hour long visit to the famous heritage landmark. They will be among a large contingent of invited guests representing a broad spectrum of the local community at the Rock of Cashel for the royal visit.
Security will be very tight around Cashel before and during the royal visit with hundreds of gardai on duty in the town and its hinterland as well as around the vicinity of Coolmore stud, Fethard and Killenaule. Major traffic restrictions around the three towns will come into force from 6pm on Thursday.
The British Monarch is expected to visit the Rock between 9am and 11am on Friday.
A spokesman for the Garda Press Office indicated she would arrive in Cashel by road but there has been also some speculation locally that she may actually fly into or out of Cashel from around Hoare Abbey.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip will be officially welcomed to the Rock by Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform Brendan Howlin, Minister of State for the OPW and Public Sector Reform Brian Hayes and local Minister of State in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport Alan Kelly.
The royal guests will be given a tour of the the ancient ecclesiastical buildings on the Rock on arrival and will then view some of the artefacts on display, including the St Patrick’s Crozier.
The members of Cashel Town Council, Cashel Town Clerk Marie McGivern, South Tipperary Co. Council Chairman Sean McCarthy, South Tipperary’s three TDs and local county councillors are among the guests from the world of politics and local government who will on the Rock of Cashel to greet the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.
Joining them will be representatives of a wide range of local schools, sporting, community and voluntary organisations. The invited guests have been directed to assemble at the industrial park on the Cahir Road at 8.30am on Friday and after going through security checks they will be bussed to the Rock.
Cashel Community School Principal Eddie Morrissey said the school was thrilled to be part of this occasion that will be talked about for 50 to 100 years to come. Twenty representatives from its school choir will perform the traditional Irish blessing song “May The Road Rise to Meet You” for the Queen. Six students representing each year at the school along with Mr Morrissey and teacher Brid O’Connor will also be representing the school at the royal visit.
“There are normally 45 to 50 students in our choir but due to space restrictions only 20 members will be able to perform for the Queen. There was great competition to get a place and choir master John Murray had to make the tough call of who to choose,” said Mr Morrissey, who said he received the invitation for the choir to perform at the royal visit only last week.
Cashel Town Clerk Marie McGivern said the Council had resurfaced and re-lined roads and done quite a bit of painting around the town, cleaning, weeding, grass cutting and planting of flowers, shrubs and trees in preparation for the royal visit.
“The grass verges along all the approach roads have been manicured. The Council has done trojan work and put a lot of resources into having the town looking its very best. The Tidy Towns have really pulled out all the stops and so have our FAS workers.
Ms McGivern said she was really looking forward to being at the Rock of Cashel on Friday to see Queen Elizabeth. “It’s a real honour and privilege. I am the first lady Town Clerk of Cashel and also the first Town Clerk to meet a head of state. As far as I am aware a broad section of the community including people from the voluntary sector who have worked for years for the betterment of the town of Cashel have been invited too. It’s great to see those people will be represented.”
Deputy Mayor of Cashel Maribel Wood said the people of the town have been really great in cleaning up their shops and home. “The town has never been as clean and never looked so good. There has been a great community spirit in Cashel. “We are looking forward to this historic occasion for the town. We are very, very lucky Queen Elizabeth is coming here. She is visiting so few places.”
Fine Gael TD Tom Hayes said it was the biggest occasion ever in his political life and a huge opportunity for Cashel and South Tipperary. It was great that it was happening in his local town and it was an honour.
“The people of Cashel are really excited about it. They feel they are really living somewhere special.”
He paid tribute to the huge effort that had been put in by the Town Council and people of the town to have Cashel looking its best for the occasion. He even heard that the Town Council had approached the receiver of a company about a derelict building in the town and got them to tidy up the building up.
In relation to plans by Sinn Fein to stage a protest in Cashel during the Queen’s visit, he said people were entitled to have their peaceful protest but he stressed the majority of the people welcomed her visit.
Cashel Chamber of Commerce President Mike Ryan said the Gardai had assured him that it will be business as usual for the people of the town despite the traffic restrictions and security for the royal visit. Gardai manning the traffic checkpoints will be directing vehicles to the traffic diversions into the town.
He understood the businesses on Lady’s Well Street will have to close on Friday as they are in the direct route Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip will be travelling to and from the Rock. He said this was to be expected and the businesses on that street had accepted that it was for the benefit of the town.
Mr Ryan echoed the tributes to local businesses, the Tidy Towns Committee, Council and residents for pulling out all the stops to have their premises looking good.
He reported that there has been steady increase in visitors to Cashel in recent weeks as public interest in the town has grown since news that Queen Elizabeth was including the Rock of Cashel in the itinerary of her State visit.
He also pointed out that restaurants, hotels, pubs and B&Bs in Cashel have taken on extra staff for Friday and the weekend in anticipation of an immediate boost in business arising from the royal visit with hundreds of media representatives visiting the town as well as tourists and the huge force of gardai.
“While she is only coming here for an hour. We hope people will be staying for the weekend.”
A representative of Coolmore Stud said they didn’t wish to comment on the Queen’s private visit to the stud on Friday.