The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Visit to Northern Ireland

 The Queen and Prince Philip
The Queen arrived in Enniskillen today for a two-day tour celebrating her Diamond Jubilee. Today I watched on TV, with my friend the Lord Bannside, the cathedral service of thanksgiving in the town, which was the scene of a devastating IRA bomb attack in November 1987.

A few minutes walk from St Macartin’s Cathedral is the local cenotaph that has become a memorial commemorating the 11 people killed in the blast which happened during a Remembrance Day service.

The Queen  met relatives of some of the victims after the service.

As well as celebrating her 60-year milestone with the communities of Northern Ireland, her visit will also be marked by a historic handshake with Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness.

The greeting between the Stormont Deputy First Minister – a former IRA commander – and the Queen in Belfast tomorrow is a gesture which will herald another milestone in Anglo-Irish relations.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee tour of the UK has seen her travel from Nottingham and Leicester to London and Henley-on-Thames in celebration of her reign.

She flew to Northern Ireland in 1977 to mark her Silver Jubilee and her Golden milestone in 2002.

Today’s arrival was delayed by almost an hour after bad weather forced the Royal Flight to divert from Enniskillen to Aldergrove Airport, near Belfast.

Hundreds of people lined the streets of Enniskillen to greet the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh as they made their way to the cathedral in a chauffeur-driven car.

A trumpet fanfare marked their arrival in the 17th century cathedral through its west door, where they were welcomed by the Dean of Clogher, the Very Reverend Kenneth Hall.

In a sign of inclusiveness, senior clerics from other denominations took part in the ecumenical service.
Young people from Portora Royal School accompanied by a brilliant flautist performed a beautiful version of O’Cahan’s Lament, commonly known as the Londonderry Air.I told Dr Paisley that my friend Noel Kane of the O’Cathain Clan explained its true origins to me several years ago. Ruaidri Dáll Ó Catháin, (Rory Dall Morrison) an Irish Harpist of the 17th century, penned the”Londonderry Air”  in order to lament the destruction of the O’ Cathain Clan. Consequently, it was originally called “O’Cahan’s Lament“.
The tune is best known as the accompaniment to the song “Danny Boy“. The words to “Danny Boy” were written by English lawyer and lyricist Frederic Weatherly in 1910. Although the lyrics were originally written for a different tune, Weatherly modified them to fit the “Londonderry Air” in 1913, after his sister-in-law in the US sent him a copy. Ernestine Schumann-Heink made the first recording in 1915. Weatherly gave the song to the vocalist Elsie Griffin, who made it one of the most popular songs in the new century.  His ballad “Roses of Picardy“, written in 1916 and set to music by Haydn Wood, was one of the most famous songs from World War I and I will speak of this on the Somme Association’s Pilgrimage to the Somme Battlefields at the end of the month.
 The first hymn was the popular Praise, My Soul, The King Of Heaven, and the congregation of 700 filled the cathedral with their voices.

The Dean of Clogher began the service with a prayer for the Queen, telling those gathered – including Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson – “Beloved in Christ, we have come together to offer our worship and praise and thanksgiving, to hear and receive God’s holy word, and to give thanks for the 60-year reign of Elizabeth, our Queen.

“We pray for her continued health and wisdom that by the power of the Holy Spirit she may continue to give herself to the service of God.”

After another hymn – God, Whose City’s Sure Foundation Stands Upon This Holy Hill – Mr Robinson read the lesson from the gospel of Matthew, beginning with the famous line: “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged.”

It comes after the Queen’s groundbreaking visit to the Republic of Ireland during which I was presented to her by President Mary McAleese last year at Islandbridge in Dublin.She had previously laid a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance , which honours republicans who died fighting British rule, followed by a tour of the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association before she spoke Irish at a banquet in her honour.


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