Northern Ireland news

Duke of Edinburgh was a regular visitor to Northern Ireland

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh admire a hurley passed to them by GAA President Christy Cooney during a tour of Croke Park, Dublin, during the second day of her State Visit to Ireland in 2011. picture by Maxwells/PA Wire

THE DUKE of Edinburgh was a regular visitor to Ireland, making almost 50 visits over more than six decades - twice as many as Queen Elizabeth.

In 1949, two years after the royal couple's wedding, they made their first visit to the north, returning together four years later to mark the queen's coronation.

Philip also once travelled across the border on an unofficial visit for a meal in Co Donegal in the early 1950s.

As a ship's commander at the time, it was reported he travelled to Buncrana for a meal while attending a naval course in Derry.

It is believed that during that time he attended a training course at HMS Sea Eagle, the name given to the Royal Navy base in Derry.

Former business owner and sailor, Ian Piggott said it was well known the duke made the journey into Donegal.

Writing in 2011, Mr Piggott said the prince enjoyed a meal with other officers in the Green Bay Restaurant in Buncrana.

Thousands also greeted the pair as a special train transported them across parts of Northern Ireland and when they returned in 1955, the crowds welcoming them were said to be bigger again.

However, the first signs of the civil unrest that was to grip the region in subsequent years were apparent during the couple's 1966 visit when a concrete block was thrown at the royal limousine as they were being driven along Belfast's Great Victoria Street.

It wasn't until the Queen Elizabeth's silver jubilee celebrations in 1977 that the royals returned.

It was the height of the Troubles and a bomb exploded the New University of Ulster in Coleraine a week before the queen was due to visit to perform its official opening.

Two years later, the IRA killed the duke's uncle and friend Lord Mountbatten in a bomb attack on his boat at Mullaghmore in Co Sligo.

In 1994 Prince Philip represented this wife at a memorial service for victims of the Chinook helicopter crash on the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland, while the royal couple returned the following year to open the new Lagan Bridge in Belfast and restore Armagh's city status.

The following year the duke agreed to become patron of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society, which was marking its centenary and in 2007, he attended the enthronement of the new head of the Church of Ireland, Archbishop Alan Harper .

In 2011 he travelled with the queen on the historic official visit to the Republic.

They then met Prime Minister Enda Kenny and were shown around government buildings in the capital.

The queen laid a wreath honouring almost 50,000 soldiers at the Irish National War Memorial.

There were also images where the couple were shown how to pour a pint of Guinness as well as Philip being presented with a hurl during a visit to Croke Park.

The couple returned for the golden jubilee visit in 2012 and the duke was at the monarch's side in Belfast during the trip and when she shook hands with former IRA commander and the then Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

The couple returned in 2014 for a three-day visit and again in 2016.

Prince Philip's final visit to the north was in 2017, when he met 115 young people who completed the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.

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Northern Ireland news