Queen hosts Irish guests at Palace

Queen hosts Irish guests at Palace

The Queen has hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace for 300 members of the Irish community who have made a positive contribution to Britain.

Guests from the worlds of sport, business, politics, the arts, and community work attended the event on Tuesday evening.One Direction star Niall Horan said it was a "great experience" meeting Her Majesty and described the palace as "mind-blowing"."It's an absolute honour to be here with two great countries coming together," he said."I couldn't believe it when I got the invitation. To have met Her Majesty again was a great experience. I might ask her if she wants to come to a show!"Others who attended the special event included Belfast music legend Van Morrison, X-Factor judge Louis Walsh, boxer Barry McGuigan, fashion designer Orla Kiely, racehorse trainer Jonjo O'Neill and former Formula One racing boss Eddie Jordan.The guests enjoyed some light-hearted chat with the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.Reality TV judge Walsh said: "We talked about her visit to Ireland, she said she had a wonderful time and that she'd love to come back again. She said she thought she picked the perfect moment to come while Mary McAleese was still president."She is an amazing woman and she proved that on her visit. Everybody loves her. I didn't ask if she watches The X Factor but I think she might be watching Strictly Come Dancing."One guest, Co Cork fishmonger Pat O'Connell, recounted how he met the Queen at the English Market in Cork during her visit to Ireland in 2011.He said he was "surprised" to be quickly recognised during Tuesday's event at the Palace where he said the Queen had greeted him by asking: "Have you brought any fish with you?"Mr O'Connell said: "We had great fun in Cork when she visited."I told the Queen when she last came to see me was the week of my 30th wedding anniversary and I said that the last time I was this well-dressed was 33 years ago.""She laughed and then she asked me if I brought her any fish."A spokesperson for the Palace said the reception marks the beginning of the lead-up to the first official state visit by an Irish President to Britain next month.He added: "All states visits are important and this is one is both exceptional and historical."Because of the phenomenal success of the Queen's visit to Ireland in 2011, where she was made to feel very welcome, there is a sense that visit was a really important moment in the bilateral relationship."From the Queen down, everyone is wholeheartedly invested in the visit by the President and would like to return the hospitality. This evening's event kicks off that process."


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