By Aine Fox, PA
Britain's Prince Charles spoke of “new hope, new friendships and new beginnings” as he bade farewell to Ireland to the tune of traditional music and dance.
Charles invoked the words of his mother, Queen Elizabeth, whose footsteps he retraced with a visit to an ancient site in Tipperary on the final day of his tour alongside his wife, Camilla.
The prince once again paid tribute to the “hauntingly beautiful country” of Ireland, after taking part in some traditional dancing on his first visit to the county.
He and Camilla made time for a meeting with the family of murdered schoolteacher Ashling Murphy, to offer their condolences.
Charles said the 23-year-old’s name “will not be forgotten”, as he echoed Camilla’s previous comments urging men to stand up and speak out about violence against women.
Keen to stress the things the UK and Ireland have in common, the prince paid tribute to efforts to help people during the pandemic and more recently those in and fleeing Ukraine, as well as environmental strides towards a “more sustainable, healthier and more prosperous future”.
He added: “You remind us that this is a time of new hope, new friendships and new beginnings, underpinning the ancient history, interests and values we share.”
The royals ventured to the Rock of Cashel on Friday, some 11 years after the queen and Prince Philip attended the ancient site during the monarch’s historic state visit.
Charles said it was “particularly apt” to finish his Irish tour at the rock, and quoted his mother, who he said had “described her hope that we might live in harmony – ‘close, as good neighbours should be’”.
He added: “It is a thought which my wife and I have consciously tried to put into action, visiting this wonderfully atmospheric land every year since 2015, interrupted only by the pandemic.”
Charles has often spoken of his hope to visit every county in his lifetime.
He and Camilla posed in front of the stone cathedral ruins at Cashel, before being given a short history of the site, enjoying a performance by Cashel Community School choir and signing the guest book.
The couple were welcomed by the sound of Welsh-Irish trumpets, similar to those used historically to celebrate the inauguration of kings in ceremonies dating back to the Bronze Age.
A short, specially composed fanfare was played on the handmade instruments, reproduced using parts found in Anglesey in Wales and Roscrea in Tipperary.
Camilla wore a green pinafore dress and green crepe coat, in similar style to the queen’s bright green outfit of 2011.
Choir director John Murray said it was “poignant” to have Charles visit the same site as the queen.
Mr Murray said: “It’s rare that you get to sing for two royals, so it is great to get to do that, and the visit is a great thing for Cashel. It’s quite poignant that his mother was here.”
The choir sang traditional Irish blessing May The Road Rise To Meet You, which had also been performed for the queen.
Charles met and shook hands with cheering schoolchildren who lined the route to the Bru Boru Cultural Centre, where the couple enjoyed a performance of traditional Irish music, even joining in with some dancing.
Earlier, the pair visited Cahir Farmers’ Market, meeting food producers and community groups from across the county.
Friday’s visit brought to a close Charles and Camilla’s two-day trip, which followed a two-day stint in Northern Ireland as part of a number of royal tours marking the queen’s platinum jubilee year.