The whole of the Emerald Isle is abuzz with enthusiasm for the visits of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and the USA’s President Barack Obama – both taking place this May. The visits from two of the world’s most important heads of state are expected to boost Ireland’s image worldwide.
Queen Elizabeth’s historic visit will be the first from a British monarch to the Irish State.
It will also be her first trip abroad after her grandson Prince William’s marriage to Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey in April. The Queen’s 91-year-old husband Prince Philip will accompany her to Ireland where they will visit major attractions, such as Dublin Castle, the National War Memorial Gardens and the Guinness Storehouse, as well as The National Stud in Co. Kildare, The Rock of Cashel & Coolmore Stud in County Tipperary and the English Market in Cork city. President Mary McAleese will also host the couple at a black-tie dinner in Dublin Castle.
The US President has said he intends to “visit all the famous sites” and to drop in on Moneygall, Co. Offaly. Records show it was the home of his great-great-great-great grandfather. Some of Ireland's top golf courses are vying for a place on the itinerary after the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny invited President Obama to play golf with him, during a visit to the White House on St Patrick’s Day.
Ireland’s tourism agencies are working intensely to make sure the official visitors - and those who travel with them - experience a warm Irish welcome and the very best that Ireland has to offer.
Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland Niall Gibbons says international media interest in the visits is already huge. “Queen Elizabeth has been on the throne for 59 years, and Ireland is one of the few countries she has not visited at this stage. There is major interest because it’s so historical.” Gibbons said he believed an image of a “warm, friendly welcoming nation of people” will encourage more overseas visitors to Ireland. “The value of these visits cannot be underestimated.”