Three day visit has strong focus on Donegal
By Adam Shaw
Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, returned to Ireland this week for a three-day royal visit both sides of the Border that includes Donegal.
The Prince began his visit with a tour of the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) at the Northern Ireland Science Park in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter on Monday. He was joined on Tuesday by his wife for a number of engagements in Northern Ireland.
In Donegal they were due to visit Magee’s – the company which has been producing tweed in the town for 150 years – before travelling to Letterkenny.
The Prince of Wales was scheduled to meet local entrepreneurs at the Letterkenny Institute of Technology to learn about the institute’s cross-Border initiatives while The Duchess of Cornwall visited a local school.
Their Donegal itinerary was due to end at Glenveagh Castle, a 19th century building last owned by American socialite Henry Plumer McIlhenny. Its gardens, boasting an amalgam of Italianate statues and Balinese stone carvings, are some of the most celebrated in Ireland.
Charles and Camilla were due to meet children who have been learning about some of the conservation work that goes on in the National Park.
The park is the second biggest of its kind in Ireland and houses the largest herd of red deer in the country as well as the once extinct golden eagle. And the castle is situated close to Churchill, where Charles’ good friend, the late English portrait and landscape artist Derek Hill, who died in 2000, lived for many years.
The visit will keep Donegal’s rugged landscapes in the news, following the excitement and local pride that surrounded the filming for the latest instalment to the Star Wars franchise at Malin Head. It is the second official visit to the Republic by Prince Charles and Camilla in as many years and follows the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Ireland in May 2011 and President Michael D Higgins’ trip to the UK in April 2014.
The royal visit marks ECIT’s elevation to “Global Research Institute” status by Queen’s University and the beginning of an investment and expansion programme which will see numbers working at the centre almost double from 180 to 300.
The expansion also will involve the creation of two new research centres – the Centre for Wireless Innovation and the Centre for Data Science and Scalable Analytics Systems.
ECIT, which was established in 2003, is involved in research work in areas such as weather satellites for the European Space Agency (ESA), anticounterfeit technology and systems to monitor patients remotely.