“The first king of England to visit us was Henry II in 1171…”

With Elizabeth II reportedly on her way, in the Irish Times Denis Fahey provides a short history of royal visits, beginning in 1171 with Henry II.  And he notes a speech by George V in Belfast, 1921.

King George VI visited Northern Ireland on a number of occasions, and Queen Elizabeth has been there frequently, but the most significant visit of a British royal in the last century was probably the one made by George V in June 1921, when he opened the new Northern Ireland parliament in the City Hall in Belfast. It was his second visit to Ireland as king, and it was certainly different from his coronation visit in 1911 when he was well received in Dublin and enjoyed a rendition of God Save the King by the Artane Boys Band at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth.

In a speech that had been crafted by a number of people including himself and the prime minister of South Africa, Gen Jan Smuts, and which had the approval of the government, the king said he “prayed with a full heart” that “my coming to Ireland today may prove to be the final step towards the end of strife amongst her people, whatever their race or creed”. “In that hope,” he continued, “I appeal to all Irishmen to pause, to stretch out the hand of friendship, forbearance and conciliation, to forgive and forget and to join in making for the land they love a new era of peace, contentment and goodwill.”

When his granddaughter visits, those words will be heard again.

  • Greenflag

    ‘When his granddaughter visits, those words will be heard again.’

    Indeed . And the official reply will be ‘ You are welcome Madam or whatever the protocol for the occasion requires

    The ‘unsaid ‘ reply for the vast majority will be the unuttered

    ‘We still serve neither King nor Kaiser ‘

    And a safe trip home Maam 😉

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    The boy Smuts got around a bit – from introducing racial segregation in South Africa to assisting in the forced partition of Ireland.

    Some pup eh?

  • Greenflag

    From Denis Fahey’s article

    ‘The first king of England to visit us was Henry II in 1171. If the papal bull, Laudabiliter, is authentic, he had a mission to deal with abuses in the Church,’

    Abuses in the Church 🙁 plus ca change eh?

  • fin

    as he was the first King to use the title “King of England” its not surprising he was the first King of England to visit.

    But what is it with Frenchies called Henry coming to Ireland and causing trouble either as kings or footballers

  • Brian Walker

    Pete, Since local refs are obligatory, don’t let’s forget bad King John who paid not one but two visits to tackle the barons like de Courcey, laying seige to Carrickfergus castle in 1210, five years before he was cut dowm to size by Magna Carta. Sadly many of the records of his visits went up in smoke in the bombardment of the Four Courts in a somewhat later seige. I seem to remember he crossed the Lagan somewhere near the Ramada hotel. Is its archtecture a tribute to his castles do you suppose?

  • Cormac Mac Art

    Actually, he was’nt. Harold II stayed at Dublin in the 1050’s, courtsey of Diarmait mac Mail na mBo, king of Leinster, though he was not king at the time. Various other english kings (though not I think kings of ‘England’) visited our fair isle from the 500’s onwards.

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    Yep the Anglo/Saxon King of England, King Harold spent his summer holidays here as a student.

    Oh and yep the Norman of England, King Henry II landed here on some business.

    I think the Scandinavian/Viking King of England, King Canute dropped in too for a pint in Dyflinn aka Dublin.

    …and I remember ‘Celtic’ King of England, King Arthur stopped by too for the craic and the ceol at the feile down in Lisdoonvarna.

  • Alias

    Well, she is the queen of Ireland, north and south. Ireland signed a treaty (the British Irish Agreement) with the United Kingdom wherein sovereignty over key economic, cultural and political institutions of the Irish state (including promotion of its national language) was removed from the people of Ireland and awarded to the United Kingdom. The people of Ireland duly consented in a referendum (as required by Article 5) to grant this sovereignty over their internal affairs to the United Kingdom and, of course, its head of state now presides over the administration of those internal affairs.

  • Greenflag

    Alias[Keep it civil – edited moderator] . You have more brains than that well perhaps ;)? . She’s Queen of the UK and that includes NI . It does not include the Republic . Next you’ll be telling us she’s Queen of Romania on the basis that her hubbie is related to Vlad the Impaler a ( distant cousin ) and first in line to the Tsar’s throne whenever it’s restored .

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    Na,BTW ‘she’ aint queen of 26 counties of Ireland for this part is a Republic.

  • Barnshee

    [Keep it civil – edited moderator] –careful study of KGv speech shows thats its a “fer fuck sake fuck off and sort this out between yourselves” diatribe. Condorming to stereotype the stup micks could not see ir or action it

  • Greenflag

    Actually it was Hendrik Verwoerd who legislated the Apartheid State into official existence after the Afrikaner nationalists finally outbred the South African english speakers (included Irish , among others ) in the 1948 election .

    Racial segregation existed in Southern Africa long before Smuts and long after but it was more ‘informal ‘ and less overtly stupid until Verwoerd tried to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s .

    Verwoerd was actually a Dutchman from Holland and not a ‘born’ South African . He presumabley came under the influence of the mad ‘nazi’ school of racial pseudo science .

    Very few people in Germany today will admit to having supported ‘nazism ‘-ditto in present day South Africa for apartheid and no doubt the same will apply to people in NI and ‘unionism ‘ Speed the day .

  • Alias

    Greenie, I can’t help you with your deficient reading comprehension skills beyond counselling you to take your time and solicit the assistance of a kindly neighbour if a sentence or two proves particularly difficult.

    This is the key sentence that I think you should take your time over, even if it takes an hour or two or five. She is the head of state of the state that now has “sovereignty over key economic, cultural and political institutions of the Irish state (including promotion of its national language)…” And consequently, she “now presides over the administration of those internal affairs.”

    The British state now has sovereignty over internal affairs of the Irish state, and she is the head of that state.

  • Cormac Mac Art

    Ireland is only located in the south, and is a different country. NORTHERN IRELAND is part of the state of which she is head.

  • Greenflag

    Shure Alias whatever you say and the Bourbons are still Kings of France and the Romanovs are still in the Winter Palace in St Petersburg . Rumours of American , French , Russian and Irish revolutions are just that rumours .

    As for an hour to figure out your contortious mental gyrations ?

    Thirty five seconds would be thirty seconds too much .

  • Alias

    It isn’t what I say, Greenie, since I didn’t vote to give sovereignty over key institutions of the Irish state to the United Kingdom.

    My view is that people should determine their own affairs within their state and not derogate control of those affairs to a foreign state and to people who are not elected by them, are not accountable to them, and do not operate the institutions of their state in their national interest. That is what democracy means.

    The Irish language has suffered since the British state gained sovereignty it, and that is the purpose of the Irish state disposing of that sovereignty. It is now downgraded to having ‘parity of esteem’ with a sick joke of a ‘language’ (a dialect and anyone with a lisp and poor grasp of grammar can speak) called Ulster Scots. As De Valera pointed out “the restoration of the national language is the surest guarantee that this nation will continue to exist.” The phased destruction of that language, therefore, is designed to weaken the Irish nation as a seperate nation from the British nation and to accordingly weaken its desire to retain as a seperate state.

    While it will undoubtably give a giddy chap such as yourself an excuse to jump up and down and wave his arms about in an agitated manner, the context of Dev’s speech is worth quoting:

    “Certainly I do not think it is a point of view I am going to change. I believe that the restoration of the national language is the surest guarantee that this nation will continue to exist. Much as I would desire to see unity—and I told you it was because of Partition I came into politics—much as I would desire to see that, which, as far as I am concerned, would be the crowning of anything I ever attempted as far as practical political action was concerned, I would not grasp even that at the cost of losing the opportunity of restoring the language. Therefore, I would not pay that price.

    There is another price I would not pay. Suppose we were to get unity in the country provided we were to give up the principles that are here in this first Article of the Constitution— the “sovereign right of the nation to choose its own form of Government, to determine its relations with other nations, and to develop its life, political, economic, and cultural, in accordance with its own genius and traditions”—I would not sacrifice that right, because without that right you have not freedom at all. Although freedom for a part of this island is not the freedom we want—the freedom we would like to have, this freedom for a portion of it, freedom to develop and to keep the kernel of the Irish nation is something, and something that I would not sacrifice, if by sacrificing it we were to get a united Ireland and that united Ireland was not free to determine its own form of Government, to determine its relations with other countries, and, amongst other things, to determine, for example, whether it would or would not be involved in war. Our people have the same right as any other people to determine these vital matters for themselves and they ought not to surrender them in advance to anybody or for any consideration. Certainly, as far as this Government is concerned, we are not going to surrender that right—for any consideration, even the consideration of a united Ireland.

    We want to be on friendly relations with Britain. There is not here, amongst our people, I believe, this hatred of Britain that we hear talked about. There is hatred undoubtedly— hatred of the things that history has shown Britain has been responsible for —but I think we can forget just as rapidly as other people can forget, and once the evil is finished and done with, the resentment that follows will also cease. As long, however, as there is something left to engender and to cause that bitterness, that bitterness and resentment will last, and if we are genuinely anxious, as I honestly am, to bring about good relations between the British and Irish peoples, the first thing to do is to try to remove these causes of resentment; and, just as I believe that, if the prejudices could be put aside, there are many things which bring us, the people of the North and South, together on a basis of common interest, so, too, the people of Britain and of this country have numbers of things upon which their common interest would bring them together.”

    De Valera refers to Article 1 of the Irish constitution which states the right to the Irish nation to self-determination, stating that he will not have it subject to the veto of another nation or its state under any circumstances “because without that right you have not freedom at all.” What was on his mind was the offer from Churchill to unite the island under a British monarch in return for Ireland entering the war (a sell-out of the ‘principle of consent’ by the British prime minister). As Dev said “Our people have the same right as any other people to determine these vital matters for themselves and they ought not to surrender them in advance to anybody or for any consideration.” He knew well that the UK would continue its agenda of suppressing Irish identity and culture if it was granted a role in Ireland’s internal affairs because that suppression of nationalism is required as a condition of maintaining colonial control. That control is now back via the backdoor, with the little matter of persuading the Irish people to accept British sovereignty over their internal affairs – and the principle that they have no inalianable right to determine those affairs for themselves – by-passed by the simple expedient of the quislings in the Irish government failing to tell the Irish people that the British state now has sovereignty over their internal affairs and duly decides those affairs, and that they unwittingly voted to give that sovereignty to them. The queen now presides over key institutions of the Irish state.

  • Alias, you seem very fond of the nazi-loving American, de valera.

  • Cushy Glenn

    .. conversely loads of people seem unabashed to support Sinn Fein with all that collateral damage of murders, maimings, bombings, and good old fashioned sectarian criminality- but hey, they were OUR murderers, maimers, bombers- and sure it was all just a bit of crack. I feel a wee song coming on “Kill the Boer!” …oops

  • Cushy Glenn

    …Brian I am shocked
    And after all the publicity about those misspelt “seige (sic) of Drumcree medals a few years ago too….
    just proves that a journo’s nothing without a proofreader!

  • Cushy Glenn

    Wouldn’t it be a lovely gesture for the visit if the proper names of Cobh and Dun Laoghaire were reinstated?

  • Wilde Rover


    I think the Irish people deserve the rap for the loss of the Irish language. On my travels I have had occasion to use the language on a number of occasions, and on all occasions there has been at least one Irish person telling me to speak English.

    In contrast, the work done by Zionists to introduce Hebrew as the main language of Israel is a noble achievement, one worthy of praise, and one that puts Ireland to shame.

  • Greenflag

    Which key institutions of the Irish State does the Queen preside over ?

    The Dail ? the Senate ? the Defence Forces ? the Gardai

    ‘I didn’t vote to give sovereignty over key institutions of the Irish state to the United Kingdom.’

    Well done. I voted for the GFA too . I’ll be the first to admit it’s a convoluted piece of work but then was there any real alternative that could have worked ?

    Perhaps you would have favoured simple Unionist majority rule or an immediate British withdrawal with unionists being frog marched into a UI ?

    Those of us with our feet on the ground and our heads safely distant from theoretical ivory towers and not fogged up by cumulonimbus know at least that much ‘

    The UK which Dev contended with was a World Empire with colonies and dependencies an all continents apart from Antartica . Today the UK Empire is restricted to Gibraltar and NI and in both of those territories their continued membership of the much reduced UK empire is entirely dependent on the ‘votes’ of the locals .

    I happen to believe Dev would have supported the GFA as being a step on the road to his favoured outcome . Whether it ever does or not is dependent on the people -all the people of NI . Dev was a man for his times . He was a math professor a rebel and a statesman and a safe pair of hands for the Free State during wartime . He was not interested in ‘economics’ He lived and came from a different world than the one we present day Irish have to face -a world where political and military power is exercised on behalf of multinational corporations and where globalised markets which are in theory ‘free ‘ markets are in practice just a cover for those who have the military power and economic might to capture more ‘market share ‘ .

    You will be disappointed to hear that Estonia is now preparing to join the Euro Zone with Poland and Hungary on the way . Since the EU’s big eastward enlargement in 2004, two former communist bloc countries have joined the eurozone – Slovenia in 2007 and Slovakia in 2009. Cyprus and Malta adopted the euro in 2008.

    .The Commission’s assessment covered: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Sweden. Every two years the Commission judges whether their economic conditions meet the strict Maastricht criteria.

    I suppose you can add your newly acquired anti UK phobia to your more often seen anti EU agenda .

    There are over 200 states on the planet varying in size from Slovenia to authoritarian capitalist China to continuing and immediate direct foreign investment dependent USA .Dev’s views on ‘sovereignty’ had some currency in his time . In today’s world they have less and less resonance .

  • Greenflag

    They already have . Before it became Queenstown the proper name for Cobh was Cobh and the proper name for KIngstown was Dunleary .

    But Queenie won’t have to travel far through the streets of Dublin if she wants to find connections with the eh ‘imperial ‘ past . There is for instance Buckingham Street , Brunswick St , Britain Quay (formerly Great Britain Quay ) , Bow Street, Bolton Street , Berkeley Street (formerly Somerset Place), Beresford Place , and thats just the letter B . For C she can choose between Chancery Lane, Place or Street , Charlemont Street ,Charlotte Quay/Street /Way and then Chatham Street named after William Pitt son of the first Earl of Chatham and for family remembrances theres always Coburg Place , Hanover Lane and George’s Street .

    For those who are interested in the origin and history behind Dublin street names – Paul Clerkin’s book of Dublin Street names will explain all. We all know who the O’Connell in O’Connell Street was . But who was the Nassau in Nassau St? or the Grafton in grafton Street -Why is Winetavern street so called or Usher’s Island or Temple Bar? Where is the Parliament in Parliament Street ? Why is there an Of Lane . Who was the lad in Lad Lane ? the protestant in Protestant Row, the Henry in Henry St or the Harry in Harry Street or the Henrietta in the street of the same name ?

    If she has the time and inclination Queenie could also have a gander at the furniture showrooms in Queen St – named after her namesake Bessie I a few centuries back . She could finish up her visit by dropping along to Victoria Quay and drop into the giant Guinness Brewery for a quick pint .

    She can then finish off her visit by checking out Victoria Street formerly Kingsland Park .

    But she might want to avoid Misery Hill . In the early 13th century there was a leper hospital close to the junction of the present Townsend and Hawkins Streets . Sufferers who were unable to gain entrance to the hospital would spend the night at Misery Hill , well away from the town and it’s citizens . Misery hill was also where the corpses of those hanged at Gallows Hill were sometimes left to hang for anything up to 12 months as a warning to the wild O’Toole’s , Kavanaghs and Byrne’s who were forever disturbing the King’s peace by getting pissed in the underchurch taverns on Winetavern Street before indulging in riotous behaviour attacking the clergy and merchants on the nearby High Street .

    deja vu eh ?

  • Greenflag

    Wilde Rover

    The restoring of Hebrew as the national language of Israel was a remarkable achievement . Most of the Jewish diaspora spoke various european languages prior to the establishment of the Israeli state -Yiddish (basically German with a Jewish accent , Polish , Russian , Hungarian , Slovak , Romanian , etc etc and even some English . Hebrew became the lingua franca and because of it’s religious import and symbolism it was adopted as Israel’s official language . I do not know how many ‘native ‘ indigenous Hebrew speakers there were in th 1920’s to 1940’s but there can’t have been that many /

    The Israelis also had no desire understandably to become absorbed by the Arabic spoken by the tens of millions surrounding them . The legacy of the shettl’s in Russia and eastern europe would not have enamoured them to Russian or Polish nor the legacy of the Holocaust to German . English was the language of the colonial empire which tried to prevent the formation of an Israeli state .

    Irish ‘being ‘ surrounded by the two English speaking dominant world economic powers (at the time of the formation of the Irish State ) as well as being ‘democracies ‘ with free movement of labour and people between the islands made and makes ‘resurrection’ attempts that much more difficult .

    That’s not to say that the Irish and their Governments could not have done a better job than they did /do .

  • Cushy Glenn

    I’ve been to Protestant Row, and there isn’t a prod about ther place- in fact there’s hardly a house. I demand an enquiry into this blatant ethnic cleansing..er…