The strong links between Wicklow, Ireland and Great Britain were stressed by the Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, Cllr Pat Vance, when welcoming Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, to the Garden County today (Monday).
“Your Royal Highnesses Céad Míle Fáilte: It is a great pleasure to welcome you on behalf of the people of County Wicklow to the most magnificent Powerscourt Estate. Your presence here today and your commitment to visiting each of our 32 counties and to getting to know the Irish as friends, neighbours and trading partners, while at the same time acknowledging our shared history, is very positive and encouraging.”
The Royal Couple were at Powerscourt House as part of their visit to Ireland and attended a reception in their honour hosted by Wicklow County Council.
Cllr Vance stressed the long history and links between our two countries adding: “Like a lot of Irish and indeed Wicklow families, our relationship with our neighbours in the UK goes back a long way.
As a maritime county, we have traded for centuries with our nearest neighbours. We have helped to build your cities and have fought in your army.” Tens of thousands of Irish fought in the First World War and his own family was not unaffected.
“Two of my uncles died following the Battle of the Somme. My own father was born in London during the time that his father was serving in the British Army. I think it is important that we acknowledge that participation, to understand how our history and indeed our geography, has shaped our culture and our heritage.”
Emphasising Wicklow’s literary links and beautiful landscape, the Cathaoirleach said he hoped that during their visit to the county the Royal couple would have a chance to enjoy the scenery that so inspired Seamus Heaney and our other great writers.
He added: “Your Royal Highnesses, I wish you a very enjoyable time in County Wicklow. I hope that you will have an opportunity to meet some of our guests and to hear about some of the wonderful achievements of those represented here today. Finally, as a proud grandfather, I could not let this occasion pass without passing on our best wishes to you and your family on the birth of your new grandson.”
Mr Frank Curran, Chief Executive, Wicklow County Council, said: “It is a great honour to welcome Your Royal Highnesses and distinguished guests on this auspicious occasion. I would like to thank you for choosing Wicklow as your destination today. Your commitment to getting to know our people, our landscape, our literature and our heritage means a lot to us.”
Outlining the business and tourism attractions of County Wicklow, he remarked: “We are spoilt for choice when it comes to scenery, magnificent gardens and forest trails, where you can enjoy nature and listen to birdsong knowing that all the amenities of our larger towns and the capital city are within easy reach.”
Tourism, said Mr Curran, was very important to County Wicklow with an estimated 39 per cent of visitors to Ireland coming from the United Kingdom, adding: “Whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, we plan to continue to welcome visitors from the UK, our nearest neighbours, and to continue to offer the wonderful experience and friendly welcome that has been enjoyed by so many.”
From both a business and tourism perspective, Mr Curran said he was pleased to note that the British and Irish Governments have pledged to create statutory rights for each other’s citizens, which will guarantee free movement within the Common Travel Area as well as rights to reside, work, study and to continue to receive pensions etc.
He added: “We hope that we can continue to develop and grow our business with the United Kingdom as we have been doing for centuries, the British are valued customers and important trading partners and we welcome with open arms any company wishing to establish a business in our county.”
Mr Curran stated: “I am very pleased to note that this is not your first visit to Wicklow and I certainly hope that it won’t be your last.”