Queen to visit Irish massacre site, war memorial

May 18, 2011 - 5:45 AM
APTOPIX Ireland Queen's Visit

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, lays a wreath in the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin, Tuesday May 17, 2011. The Queen set foot on Irish soil at the start of a historic state visit which will herald a new era in relations between Britain and the Republic. Politicians on both side of the Irish Sea have described the four-day event as momentous. (AP Photo/Arthur Edwards, pool)

DUBLIN (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II's journey of reconciliation takes her Wednesday to the site of a notorious massacre where British troops killed 14 Irish civilians in 1920.

The queen's visit to Croke Park on the second day of her historic trip to the Republic of Ireland highlights the vast improvement in Anglo-Irish relations since those dark days. It brings the English monarch to a large stadium that is a revered spot for Irish nationalists who mourn those who died there during the conflict with Britain.

Later Wednesday, she will make her only public speech of the four-day visit during a state dinner hosted by Irish President Mary McAleese, who invited the queen to visit Ireland.

On a lighter note, the queen plans to start her day at the Guinness Storehouse, one of the most popular tourist sites in Ireland. She and her husband Prince Philip are set to visit the Gravity Bar there — and she may well be offered a pint before noon.

The queen is receiving high marks from the Irish press for her dignified conduct during the first day of her long-anticipated visit.

The Irish Daily Mail noted the widespread respect for the queen's decision to honor Ireland's rebels on her first day in Dublin by laying a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance, a memorial to those who fought against British rule.

"With one momentary bow of the head, Queen Elizabeth II banished centuries of mistrust yesterday in a historic first visit to the Republic of Ireland by a reigning British monarch," wrote journalist Senan Molony.

The front page showed a photo of the solemn queen honoring the fallen.

The queen's visit to Croke Park came at the invitation of the Gaelic Athletic Association, a pillar of Irish sports and cultural life. The group said it looks forward to welcoming the queen in light of the continuing improvement in relations and the success of the Northern Ireland peace process.

The queen also plans to meet with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny and to visit the Irish National War Memorial Garden at Islandbridge to honor approximately 49,400 Irish soldiers who died during World War I.

Her visit has dominated Irish newspapers and TV reports, which have offered detailed coverage of her visit since the moment she arrived. Many approved of her arrival outfit, which emphasized emerald green.

Despite the friendly welcome, the queen will still be protected by an exceptionally large security contingent including more than 8,500 police backed by troops. Some arrests were made overnight, and much of downtown Dublin was closed to motorists and pedestrians Wednesday morning as a large security cordon was established.

There were several scuffles and protests on Tuesday after the queen's arrival. Dissident groups have said further disruptions are possible.

On Thursday, the queen plans to visit the Irish National Stud to indulge her love of horses. She also hosts a gala dinner for Irish dignitaries Thursday evening before traveling to Cork on Friday.