Longford figures speak fondly of Queen’s visit

A select number of people from Longford were among those to meet or attend functions attended by Queen Elizabeth last week.

A select number of people from Longford were among those to meet or attend functions attended by Queen Elizabeth last week.

Among the hand picked number of dignitaries to line the hallowed stadium’s hallway ahead of Her Majesty’s arrival last Wednesday was none other that Leinster Council GAA Chairman Martin Skelly and his wife Gaye.

Picked up by RTE’s carefully positioned camera crew, Mr Skelly could be seen smiling and exchanging pleasantries with the British monarch upon her arrival to GAA headquarters.

“She (Queen) asked where were myself and Gaye from?” he recalled. “We said we were from the midlands and that we were from the largest province in the country. Gaye said it was great to see her in the country and hoped that she had a great visit. The Queen then said to us ‘thank you very much’”.

Mr Skelly admitted that he would have like to asked the Queen about one of her best-known horses.

“I was dying to ask her about her horse Carlton House would do in the (Epsom) Derby as its 6/4 favourite,” he admitted.

Newtowncashel native Peter McKenna also met the Queen at Croke Park and indeed, he was instrumental in the organisation of the event.

Meanwhile Mayor Paul Connell and his wife Mary were flying the Longford flag on Thursday at Dublin’s Conference Centre.

“Would you believe, me and Mary were only about 20 yards away from the Queen?. I thought Westlife were great and at the end of it all Mary McAleese and the Queen came up on stage and got a standing ovation,” he beamed.

Among the crowds the official functions attended by the Queen were Killashee native Harry Casey and his wife Mary Hayes. Thursday was also a red-letter day for one of the county’s up and coming stars of the future-budding Abbeylara jockey, Katie Crawford. The 17-year-old was among a handful of apprentice jockeys to meet the Queen as she spent much of the afternoon strolling around the National Stud in County Kildare.

Katie, who is the daughter of Willie and Josie Crawford, said she could hardly hide her delight when it emerged she would be meeting the head of Britain’s Royal family.

“I got picked with four others from a group of 27 in the Race Academy down here (in the Curragh). We were told that we couldn’t tell anyone though and that we had to keep it top secret,” she explained.

Quizzed about her thoughts on the British monarch, she said she was bowled over by her warm welcome and broad smile.

“She asked me my name and how was I doing. She spoke with such a posh accent, but you wouldn’t think she was the Queen at all. She just seemed so happy to be there,” she concluded.