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Ireland page 4


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The Encumbered Estates Act may be regarded as the turning-point in the destiny of Ireland, marking the introduction of a new era. In the royal speech at the close of the session, the Queen expressed a fervent hope that the Almighty Disposer of events would favour the operation of those laws, and grant to her Irish people as the reward of the patience and resignation with which they had borne their protracted sufferings, the blessings of an abundant harvest and internal peace. And soon after the prorogation of Parliament Her Majesty resolved to realise the beautiful prediction of Sir Robert Peel, and pay her first visit to her Irish subjects. At Cowes a royal squadron was in readiness to convey the Victoria and Albert across the Channel. It consisted of the Stromboli, Sphynx, Black Eagle, and Vivid, all steamers. They arrived at Cove at ten o'clock on Thursday night. The Queen was accompanied by Prince Albert, the Prince of Wales, Prince Alfred, the Princess Royal, and the Princess Alice. The royal yacht anchored alongside the Ganges, her arrival being announced by the booming of artillery, which was the signal for the lighting of bonfires upon the hills around the picturesque town of Cove. In the morning a deputation went on board, consisting of the Marquis of Thomond, head of the house of O'Brien; the Earl of Bandon, and several of the nobility and gentry of the county; with the Mayor of Cork, and Mr. Fagan, M.P. for that city. They were introduced to Her Majesty by Sir George Grey, the Secretary of State, in attendance during the visit. Arrangements were then made for the landing, and about three o'clock the Queen first set foot upon Irish ground, amidst the most enthusiastic demonstrations of loyalty from the multitudes assembled to bid their Sovereign welcome, mingling their cheers with the roar of cannon, which reverberated from the hills around. A pavilion had been erected for Her Majesty's reception, and over it floated a banner, with the word " Cove" emblazoned upon it. The Queen had consented, at the request of the inhabitants, to change the name of the place, and call it " Queenstown," and when she left the pavilion the first flag was pulled down and another erected in its stead, with the new name. Thus the old name of " Cove" was extinguished by the Queen's visit, just as the old name of " Dunleary " had been extinguished by the visit of George IV.

The royal party then proceeded up the beautiful river Lee, to the city of Cork, hailed by cheering crowds at every point along the banks where a sight of the Queen could be obtained. All the population of the capital of Munster seemed to have turned out to do homage to their Sovereign. The Mayor, Mr. Lyons, presented to her the keys of the city on a velvet cushion. He then presented an address from the corporation, after which Her Majesty presented a sword to the Prince Consort, who laid it on the shoulder of the kneeling mayor, and said, "Rise, Sir William Lyons." A procession was quickly formed. The Queen and the Royal Family occupied carriages lent for the occasion by Lord Bandon. The procession passed under several beautiful triumphal arches, erected at different points. The public buildings and many private houses were adorned with banners of every hue, evergreens, and all possible signs of rejoicing. The windows, balconies, and all available positions were crowded by the citizens, cheering and waving their hats and handkerchiefs. When this ceremony had been gone through, the Queen returned to the Victoria and Albert, in Queenstown Harbour. At night, the whole of that town was brilliantly illuminated. In Cork, also, the public buildings and the principal streets were lit up in honour of Her Majesty's visit. When Her Majesty first landed it was noticed as a happy omen that " the sun shone forth with sudden and unwonted splendour." It was a fit emblem of the sunshine of royalty that seemed to produce in the Celtic population of Munstei a degree of loyal excitement amounting to ecstasy. Their wild shouts, mingled with the roar of cannon and the ringing of joy-bells, altogether produced an effect that must have been very gratifying to its object, and Her Majesty, before she parted, was pleased to say to Sir Thomas Deane that " Nothing could be more gratifying" than her reception.

About ten o'clock on Saturday morning, the squadron weighed anchor for Dublin Bay. They passed that night in Waterford Harbour, and arrived at Kingstown Harbour on the afternoon of the following day. The harbour is composed of two immense arms of granite, running out into the sea for about a mile, and narrowing to the entrance, somewhat in the form of a horseshoe. The harbour to the left is devoted to commercial shipping and fishing smacks. Near the right is the landing pier for the Holyhead and Liverpool steamers, which projects like a tongue into the sea, upon which the railway runs, so that the express train comes alongside the mail steamer. This is called Carlisle Pier, and has been constructed since the Queen's visit. The arm to the right of the harbour is a fashionable promenade, much frequented, especially in summer, when it is crowded by respectable people till a late hour in the evening. When Her Majesty arrived, this promenade was densely covered with people, from the quay at the town to the light-house at the end, while all the space on the rising grounds was occupied by carriages and eager crowds. The jetty, especially, a large space of ground in front of the railway station, was packed as closely as human beings could stand together; while the tops of the houses commanding a view of the scene were also occupied. When the Queen appeared on deck, there was a tremendous burst of cheering, which was renewed again and again, especially when the Victoria and Albert, amidst salutes from yachts and steamers, swung round at anchor, head to wind. At that time it is calculated that there must have been 40,000 people present.

Monday, the 6th of August, was an auspicious day fpr the Irish metropolis. It opened with a brilliant sun, and from an early hour all the population of Dublin seemed astir. Trains began to run to Kingstown as early as half-past six, and from that hour till noon the multitudes poured in by sea and land, in order to see and welcome their Queen. A handsome pavilion had been erected on the jetty, covering the passage from the landing-place to the railway station. It was decorated on the inside with the flags of all civilised nations. On the whole way to the flight of steps ascending to the railway platform, was a days covered with crimson carpeting, on each side of which were ranged rare and beautiful plants in large pots, brought from the botanical gardens. The Earl of Clarendon, then Lord-Lieutenant, Lady Clarendon, Prince George of Cambridge, the Marquis of Lansdowne, Sir Edward Blakeney, Commander of the Forces, the Archbishop of Dublin, the Duke of Leinster, the chief judges, and a number of peers and leading gentry, arrived early to welcome the Sovereign, the last being nearly all in uniform as lieutenants, or deputy-lieutenants, of counties. There was also a deputation from the county of Dublin, consisting of the High Sheriff, Mr. Ennis, Lords Charlemont, Brabazon, Howth, Monk, Roebuck, and others. The Queen landed at ten o'clock. The excitement and tumultuous joy at that moment cannot be described. Her Majesty was dressed in a very simple costume. She wore a dress of brown and white spotted muslin, a visite of pearl-coloured silk and Limerick lace, and a white crape bonnet. She looked youthful and animated, quite radiant with smiles and happiness. The Princesses wore blue satin visites over plain white tunics. The Prince Consort was dressed in a dark frock coat with drab trowsers, and the joyous little Princes figured in sailor costume. On the platform of the railway terminus, a handsome structure adjoining the jetty, the Queen was received by Mr. George Roe, Chairman of the Dublin and Kingstown Railway Company. The Royal party stopped to admire the scene from that commanding position, and certainly it would be difficult to find anywhere a scene moije beautiful than it appeared at that moment, the whole space of the harbour covered with yachts, steamers, and craft of all sorts, with their colours flying; while the encircling piers were black with human beings, and the jetty and all the elevated space above in front of the handsome terraces, presented one mass of upturned faces, all looking with intense interest at the central objects of that glorious scene - the fair, young Queen, the graceful Prince Consort, and their lovely children, standing upon the platform in front of the railway terminus. There was a special train in waiting to convey the Queen to Dublin, with a state carriage of exquisite beauty. The train stopped at Sandymount Station, where the procession was to be formed. In addition to the innumerable carriages waiting to take their places, there was a cavalcade of the gentry of the county and a countless multitude of pedestrians. The procession began to move soon after ten o'clock, passing over Ball's Bridge and on through Baggot Street. At Baggot Street Bridge the city gate Was erected. There the corporation appeared in their robes, and the Lord Mayor, Mr. Timothy O'Brien, who was afterwards made a baronet, presented Her Majesty with the city keys. It is needless to state that all the windows of the houses were filled with fair spectators, that the streets were densely crowded, and that all was enthusiasm, exultation, and joy. No one could then imagine that one year before there had been in that city bands of rebels, arming themselves against the Queen's authority. All traces of rebellion, disaffection, discontent, and misery vanished in that overwhelming flood of loyalty. The procession moved on through Fitzwilliam Square, Merrion Square, Nassau Street, Westmoreland Street, Sackville Street, Cavendish Row, Eccles Street, and on by the North Circular Road to the Phoenix Park, at the gate of which the procession parted company, the royal party driving rapidly to the Viceregal Lodge. The procession passed under several magnificent triumphal arches, from one of which a dove was let down by an invisible cord into the Queen's carriage, and taken graciously into her hand.

On Monday night the whole city was brilliantly illuminated. The excitement of the multitude had time to cool next day, for it rained incessantly from morning till night. But the rain did not keep the Queen in-doors. She was out early through the city, visiting the Bank of Ireland, the National Model Schools, the University, and the Royal Hospital at Kilmainham. There she cheered the hearts of the brave old pensioners by saying, 1 am glad indeed to see you all so comfortable. The illuminations were repeated this evening with, if possible, increased splendour, and the streets were filled with people in every direction, all behaving in the most orderly manner. Her Majesty held a levée in Dublin Castle on "Wednesday, which was attended by unprecedented numbers. On Thursday she witnessed a grand review in the Phoenix Park, and held a drawing-room in her palace in the evening. On Friday the Queen and the Prince paid a visit to "Ireland's only duke," at Carton, near Maynooth, where they were entertained at a déjeûner, with a select company of the nobility. The Queen left Dublin that evening, followed to the railway station by immense multitudes, cheering and blessing as only enthusiastic Celts can cheer and bless. The scene at the embarkation in Kingstown harbour was very touching. The whole space and the piers were crowded as when she arrived. The cheering and waving of handkerchiefs seemed to affect Her Majesty, as the royal yacht moved slowly out towards the extremity of the pier near the lighthouse. She left the two ladies in waiting with whom she was conversing on deck, ran up to the paddle-box, and, taking her place beside Prince Albert, she gazed upon the scene before her, graciously waving her hand in response to the parting salutations of her loyal Irish subjects. She appeared to give some order to the commandant, the paddles immediately ceased to move, and the vessel merely floated on; the royal standard was lowered in courtesy to the cheering thousands on shore; and this stately obeisance was repeated five times. This incident produced a deep impression on the hearts of the people, and it was this picture that dwelt longest on their minds.

After a rough passage, the squadron arrived, at three in the morning, in Carrickfergus Road, about seven miles from Belfast. The water in the Channel was not deep enough for the Victoria and Albert, and the Royal party went on board the Fairy tender, in which they rapidly glided up the lough, and anchored at the quay. Her Majesty was received by the Marquis of Londonderry, with, a number of the Northern nobility. The Mayor also went on board, where he presented an address from the Corporation, and received the order of knighthood. The royal party landed in order to see the town. Loyal mottoes told, in every form of expression, the welcome of the inhabitants of the capital of Ulster. An arch of grand architectural proportions, richly decorated with floral ornaments and waving banners, spanned the High Street. Her Majesty visited the Queen's College and the Linen Hall. Belfast is a flourishing city, but it has not much to boast of in way of architectural beauty, and therefore there was not much to see. The numerous mills about the town, with their tall chimneys and perpetual smoke, would remind her more of Lancashire than of Ireland, giving her assurance at the same time that Ulster was the most industrious and prosperous part of her kingdom of Ireland. The town, however, was seen to the best advantage, and the enthusiasm of the people was unbounded. If, in Cork, where O'Connell had been obeyed almost as sovereign of the country, the Queen was hailed with such enthusiastic devotion, how intense must have been the loyal demonstrations in a town out of which the Repeal chief was obliged to fly secretly, to avoid being stoned to death.

There is no doubt that this royal visit to Ireland had a most salutary effect on the minds of the people, and shed a healing influence upon those classes who had suffered in the recent calamities. It also left a deep impression upon the people of England and Scotland, who felt that the love with which the Queen had inspired the hearts of the Irish was too strong to be broken again by faction or sedition, and that her visit might be regarded as the harbinger of a happier union between the two countries. After a stormy passage, the royal squadron arrived with difficulty at Lough Ryan, on the western coast of Wigtonshire. Thence the Queen proceeded to Glasgow, where she knighted Mr. James Anderson, the Lord Provost, and on Wednesday, the 15th, she reached her new mountain residence at Balmoral. There the Royal Family recruited their strength with rural amusements. The Prince's birthday was celebrated in grand style by the surrounding Highlanders. On the 27th of December they returned to England by way of Edinburgh, and arrived safely at Osborne.

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