WARM tributes have been paid to the late Queen of England who passed away on Thursday afternoon from local and national figures who shared their memories from her historic visit to Cork city in 2011.
The Queen and her late husband Prince Philip visited Cork on May 20, 2011. During her visit to the city, the Queen received a tour of the English Market.
Fishmonger Pat O’Connell who famously shared a joke with the Queen during her visit with Prince Philip in 2011 said their visit was a ‘boost’ for everyone.
“It’s a terribly sad day. We have tremendous memories of Queen Elizabeth's visit to the English Market and to Cork. It was a wonderful boost for everyone," he said this evening.
Speaking following the death of Prince Philip, Mr O’Connell said the historic visit to Cork city only seemed like yesterday.
“They were very ordinary people the two of them, the Queen and [Prince Philip].
"The visit only seems like yesterday.
Mr O’Connell said the positive feedback he received from the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s visit to the Market in 2011 meant a lot to him.
“It was really interesting actually because Julian King, who was the British Ambassador in Ireland in 2011, he came down to the Market six or seven weeks after the visit with Tim Lucey (of Cork County Council) and he called up to us and said the Market really rocked for the Queen, she got such a kick out of it and I just said we just did what we always do, we just had a laugh and he said ‘Yeah Pat but how many people meet the Queen of England and do what they normally do?’
“They got such a kick out of it and I just thought yes, the Market really does have something special.”
As part of their tour of the English Market, the Queen unveiled a plaque near the fountain, commemorating the visit, and was presented with a specially commissioned silver brooch. The Queen and her late husband were also presented with a gift hamper that showcased the very best of produce from the English Market.
In 2021, ten years on from their historic visit to Cork, the English Market and Cork City Council unveiled a commemorative photographic exhibition at the entrance to the market on Grand Parade.
Speaking last night, Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Deirdre Forde on behalf of the people of Cork extended her sympathies to the royal family: “On behalf of the people of Cork I would like to extend my deep sympathies to the British royal family and the British people on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.
President Michael D Higgins said in a statement: “We remember the role Queen Elizabeth played in celebrating the warm and enduring friendship, and her great impact on the bonds of mutual understanding, between our two peoples. She will be deeply missed.”
Taoiseach Micheál Martin also paid tribute to the Queen, saying her death is the ‘end of an era’.
“On behalf of the Government of Ireland, I would like to convey my deepest sympathy to His Majesty King Charles, the Royal Family, the UK Government and the British people on the loss of their beloved monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
"The Queen’s reign was one of historic duration, immense consequence and a focus of respect and admiration around the world. Her dedication to duty and public service were self-evident and her wisdom and experience truly unique.
"The Queen’s passing is indeed the end of an era. Her State Visit to Ireland in 2011 marked a crucial step in the normalisation of relations with our nearest neighbour."
The Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said her visit to Ireland was a critical step in the peace process.
"I was privileged to welcome her to the English Market and to witness how much that visit meant to her personally and to the people of Cork.”
Fianna Fáil councillor Tony Fitzgerald who was Lord Mayor of Cork when Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwall Camilla Parker Bowles visited Cork in 2018, said Cork has always had a strong connection with the royal family.
“I recall from my discussions with Prince Charles that the Queen fondly remembered her visit to Cork and that’s something to be proud of.”
The Councillor said a death in the family is always a sad occasion.
The Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, the Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton tweeted that the death of the late Queen of England has left him ‘strangely unsettled’: "A thread of constancy and consistency on the world stage has been broken. Even as an Irishman, I’m strangely unsettled.”
Analysing Queen Elizabeth II's role in Anglo-Irish relations, Dr Jay Roszman of the School of History at University College Cork said: "The transformation in Anglo-Irish relations across Elizabeth’s life are remarkable. Everyone is familiar with images of smiling fish mongers in Cork welcoming Her Majesty or the iconic images of her handshake with Martin McGuinness. She deserves significant credit for her role as Head of State advancing Anglo-Irish relations."
A book of condolence will be opened by the Lord Mayor at Cork City Hall tomorrow at 11am.