While most of the media concentrated on the historic handshake between Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin, there was in my view a much more important greeting the day before in Enniskillen. After leaving St Macartin’s Anglican Cathedral along with Dean Kenneth Hall, the Queen walked a short distance across the road and was greeted by Canon Peter O’Reilly, the Catholic parish priest. Cardinal Sean Brady and the Bishop of Clogher Liam MacDaid were waiting to greet her inside, in what was her first ever visit to a Catholic church on the island of Ireland. More pictures of the event can be found on the St Michael’s parish website. This week’s edition of the Irish Catholic carries my report of the event under the heading: “Enniskillen PP Meets Queen”. Photo used was by Julian Behal of PA.
“Enniskillen Parish Priest Canon Peter O’Reilly was among those to greet Britain’s Queen Elizabeth during her two day visit to the North this week as part of her diamond jubilee celebrations. He greeted the royal visitor at the entrance to St Michael’s church and she was then introduced to members of various parish groups. It is believed to be the first time the Queen has visited a Catholic church in Ireland. Among those present were Cardinal Brady as well as local children and representatives from a number of sectors including sport, farming and business. Earlier Cardinal Brady attended a service of thanksgiving at the nearby St Macartin’s Cathedral along with senior Protestant clergy. The lesson was read by the North’s First Minister Peter Robinson. The prayers of intercession were led by Reverend Ken Lindsay, Methodist President, Cardinal Brady and Dr Roy Patton, Presbyterian Moderator. The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh Alan Harper gave the sermon and praised the Queen’s visit to the Republic last year. He said her conciliatory words and gestures had allowed many to throw off the “shackles” that had been loosening since 1998’s Good Friday Agreement, and “positively” to be themselves“.