The organisers of this year’s St Patrick’s Day parade presumably didn’t think it would coincide with a royal visit to Fermoy, but all eyes will surely be on the viewing stand in Pearse Square on Friday morning.
King Edward VII of England was a visitor to nearby Ballyhooly in his younger days as Prince Regent, stopping at Convamore House in 1885, but the closest Fermoy has got to a royal visit in recent times was when the then-Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall stayed in Ballyvolane House in Castlelyons in 2018.
This weekend, though, the former garrison town will be visited by royalty, as local resident Michael Flatley plays host to Prince Albert II of Monaco.
Albert II, son of Prince Rainier III and Irish-American movie star Grace Kelly, is staying at the Lord of the Dance star’s Fermoy mansion in Castlehyde, the ancestral home of Ireland’s first president, Dubhghlas de hÍde.
The prince was treated to an evening of fine dining with chef Kevin Thornton on Thursday evening, and tomorrow a special St Patrick’s Day party will take place at the home.
In January, Mr Flatley announced that he was “on the mend” after surgery for “an aggressive form of cancer”.
The Riverdance star bought Castlehyde House in Fermoy in 1999, and he married Niamh O'Brien in St Patrick’s Church in Fermoy in October 2006.
Cork Penny Dinners volunteer co-ordinator Caitríona Twomey, who received a visit by the Mr Flatley to the soup kitchen charity over the Christmas, is a fan.
“Michael has a real heart and a beautiful understanding of life - its ups and downs, its sorrows and joys,” Ms Twomey said. “He makes no judgement of the soul and is always grateful.”
Fermoy’s St Patrick’s Day parade starts at 11am, and Michael Flatley is, as one local told, “fond of wearing the green”.
Keep an eye on that viewing stand.