HRH The earl of Wessex is in Northern ireland for a two day visit and on his first day arrived in Downpatrick.
On arrival at the George Best Airport, he was greeted by Mrs Fionnuala Jay O’Boyle CBE, the new Lord Lieutenant of Belfast, before making his way to the county town of Down for a number of engagements.[caption id="attachment_52100" align="alignleft" width="390"] HRH Prince Edward meets Canon Sean Rogan at Down Cathedral. Included in the Dean of the cathedral, the Very Rev Henry Hull, centre.[/caption]
The St Patrick Centre was the first port of call for the royal visitor and he was met by Dr Tim Campbell, centre director, who presented a short overview of the centre and accompanied HRH on a short interactive tour of the St Patrick’s exhibition based on St Patrick’s writings.
He also had the opportunity to view a film presentation depicting a virtual flight across Ireland, as well as viewing the exhibition by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency outlining the role of the centre and how it encourages visitors to see the local sites associated with St Patrick.
After an informal lunch with members of the local community and tourism representatives, the Earl made the short walk to Down Cathedral where he was greeted by the Rev Dean Henry Hull who conducted a short overview of the symbolic building and the history and features within the cathedral.
One of the most striking features of the cathedral is the pulpitum, which is topped by the magnificent organ whose pipes reach almost to the vaulted roof, something which is unique in the whole of Ireland. Michael McCracken, Down Cathedral organist, played a fanfare by Jacques Lemmas during the short visit.HRH Prince Edward officially opens the Downpatrick Railway Museum.[/caption]
The Royal visitor was invited to sign the visitors’ book before moving to the churchyard where he viewed the granite stone marking the burial place of St Patrick.
Next port of call for HRH was his visit to the Downpatrick and County Down Railway museum located in the centre of Downpatrick. Railway vice president William Gillespie and chairperson John Wilson welcome the royal visitor and gave him a short history of the organisation and the facilities.
The Earl of Wessex proceeded to the railway workshop and museum where he had the opportunity to meet with members and volunteers of the Railway Society who provided HRH with an overview of the current carriage restoration projects as well as inviting him to view a number of gallery exhibits including the ‘Royal Saloon’.
Before departing the museum, HRH was invited to unveil a plaque to commemorate the official opening of the carriage viewing gallery.
His Royal Highness departed the museum’s station platform on board a restored steam train for the short journey to Inch Abbey.[caption id="attachment_52103" align="aligncenter" width="540"] Dean Henry Hull speaking to HRH Prince Edward about St Patrick’s Grave in Downpatrick.[/caption] ]]>