By Noel Dundon
Thurles may be in line for a visit from Queen Elizabeth II, following the acceptance of an invitation from President Mary McAleese to come to Ireland in the summer, with the home of her ancestors in The Premier County possibly on Her Majesty’s agenda.
Queen Elizabeth has strong ancestral connections with the town and is a direct descendant of Viscount and Lady Thurles through their eldest son, the Duke of Ormond. The Duke’s daughter, Elizabeth, married Philip Stanhope, 2nd Earl Chesterfield, and their daughter Elizabeth Stanhope married John Lyon, 4th Earl Strathmore. Six generations later in direct line was the 14th Earl Strathmore whose daughter, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon married the future King George VI; and these are the grandparents of Prince Charles. Thurles therefore, could well be expected to be included on her itinerary for the summer visit.
Many of Queen Elizabeth’s ancestors are buried at St. Mary’s Church in Thurles, the location of the impressive St Mary’s Famine and War Museum, including Lady Elizabeth Butler, (Elizabeth Poyntz, Acton, 1673.) from whom she inherited her christian name.
A visit from the Queen would have huge logistical and security implications for the locality, but would also prove to be an unprecedented boost to local tourism with images of the town and it’s hinterland likely to be beamed all over the world. Royalty already visited the area a few months ago for the funeral of the late Ned Ryan of Upperchurch when Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones, wife of Prince Edward attended on behalf of the British Royal Family in November last. Mr Ryan was a highly regarded friend of the Royal Family.
Meanwhile, it was also announced at this month’s meeting of Cashel Town Council that the famous Heritage Town would be extending an invitation to the Queen to visit Cashel. Acting Mayor Cllr Maribel Wood said the Queen may visit nearby Coolmore Studs as part of her itinerary, as Her Majesty has a huge interest in all things equine. Cllr Wood said it would really promote Cashel, its proud history, and be “great for tourism and business” if the Queen were to accept an invite from the Council. Members agreed to send an official invitation to the British Embassy.