A sitting Mayor of Cashel will be remembered forever in the history books as the first ever Sinn Féin party member to handshake a reigning British Monarch.
In a visit replete with landmark moments, touching tributes, and images that will linger long afterwards in the memory, few gestures can stand out more for their significance than a lifelong and ardent Irish republican greeting hands with a reigning British Queen in the Rock of Cashel – once a seat of Irish royalty.
Mayor of Cashel, Cllr Michael Browne, using a wheelchair and speaking softly due to a grave illness, told national and international media after the famous handshake: “How can you not shake the hand of an 85-year old woman who offers it to you? I just said to her: ‘Welcome to Cashel, Your Majesty, and I hope you enjoy your stay’. No more, no less.”
Just down the road, some 35 of his fellow party members drawn from across Tipperary, including Cllr Browne’s own brother, Martin, who is Chairman of Sinn Fein in Cashel, and local members Marcus Fogarty and Kevin Brunnick, could be seen protesting with placards and banners at the corner of Ladyswell and Bank Place.
“You are Not Welcome until Ireland is Free” and “Sinn Féin – Not In Our Name,” were some of the posters seen by passersby. The evening before the Queen’s arrival, at least two black flags were seen hanging from houses on Dominic Street, an approach road to the Rock.
Minutes before the Queen’s arrival, Cllr Michael Browne told the Tipperary Star that he would “put the people first” and greet her as part of his term of office. “I was elected by the people of Cashel to greet any dignitaries that might arrive in Cashel during my term in office,”
See full story and round-up of Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Cashel in this week’s Tipperary Star