Queen visits horsebreeding centre on Ireland visit

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Media captionThe Queen's love of horses and racing is well known

The Queen has been shown around the Irish National Stud horsebreeding centre on the third day of her historic visit to the Republic of Ireland.

She unveiled a statue marking her visit, met jockeys and others involved in racing, and was shown stud horses at the centre in Kildare, west of Dublin.

Irish agriculture minister Simon Coveney said the Queen's trip had now entered a "more relaxing" phase.

She later attended a show by fashion designers and Irish performers.

The Queen is making the first trip to the Irish Republic by a reigning UK monarch.

BBC Ireland correspondent Mark Simpson said that having reached "half-time" in the Queen's four-day trip, there was now "no more politics - just horses and showbiz today".

The Queen attended a variety show at Dublin's National Convention Centre on Thursday evening, hosted by the British Embassy.

She was applauded by the audience as she stepped on stage to shake hands with the performers after the 45-minute concert, which was broadcast live on RTE.

Among the 2,000 guests were President Mary McAleese, cabinet ministers, plus representatives from sport, culture, entertainment, charities and business.

The catwalk included fashion by Irish designers, and British designers such as Victoria Beckham.

The performance included songs by Irish folk band the Chieftains, Westlife, Riverdance and X Factor winner Mary Byrne. It also featured the singing of Danny Boy by schoolchildren from schools from Belfast and Cork.

Mr Coveney said: "The first two days were very much about the emotive history of the two islands, reconciliation and moving forward and respecting the history. I think the Queen did that in an extraordinarily generous way.

"I think the second half of this visit is, I hope, more relaxing - and she's very interested in racing and horse breeding."

He said: "Horse racing is part of what it means to be Irish and an important industry for us here."

Image caption The Queen sat with President McAleese to view the catwalk show.


At a state dinner at Dublin Castle on Wednesday, the Queen offered "sincere thoughts and deep sympathy" to people who had suffered during the two countries' "troubled past".

An apology had not been expected, BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said, but the Queen came "pretty close".

The Queen had visited Croke Park sports stadium in the capital, where 14 people were killed by British forces 91 years ago, and also laid a wreath at a service honouring Ireland's World War I dead.

Addressing guests at the state dinner on Wednesday, the Queen opened her only public speech of the trip in Irish.

"A hUachtarain agus a chairde (President and friends)," she said.

She went on: "It is a sad and regrettable reality that through history our islands have experienced more than their fair share of heartache, turbulence and loss.

"These events have touched us all, many of us personally, and are a painful legacy. We can never forget those who have died or been injured, and their families.

"To all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past I extend my sincere thoughts and deep sympathy."

She added: "With the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently or not at all."

The Queen praised her host, President McAleese, who had "done a great deal to promote this understanding and reconciliation" and "set out to build bridges".

Mrs McAleese, in her address to guests, said a new chapter had been opened between Ireland and Britain.

"The harsh facts cannot be altered nor loss nor grief erased but with time and generosity, interpretations and perspectives can soften and open up space for new accommodations," she said.

President's residence

The Queen and Prince Philip's signatures on the visitors' book at the official residence of the Irish president

Garden of Remembrance

Wreath-laying at the Garden of Remembrance, the Queen (left) with President Mary McAleese (right)


Trinity College

The Queen inspects the Book of Kells at Trinity College


Government Buildings

The Queen signs the visitors' book at Government Buildings, while meeting the Irish prime minister, on right

National War Memorial Gardens

Irish veterans meet the Queen and the Irish president at the Irish War Memorial Gardens

Guinness Storehouse

The Queen visited Dublin's Guinness Storehouse, where she was served a pint of Ireland's famous tipple.

The Queen is offered a pint at the Guinness Storehouse

Croke Park

The Queen and Prince Philip receive a hurley stick, at Croke Park stadium

Dublin Castle

The Queen wore a diamond harp brooch for her speech at Dublin Castle

Irish National Stud, Kildare

The Queen views the stallions at the Irish National Stud


The Queen leaves the Rock of Cashel after a tour of the historic monument.


The Lord Mayor of Cork, Michael O'Connell, shows the Queen the best of Irish produce at the English Market.

The Queen's itinerary

Thursday 19 May: Visit to National Stud at Kildare.

Friday 20 May: Tour of St. Patrick's Rock, Cashel and the English Market and Tyndall Institute, Cork.