Prince Charles meets NI men of straw

Published Tuesday, 01 April 2014
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Prince Charles was given some cider-drinking tips by a local ancient folk group in Enniskillen during his two-day visit to Northern Ireland.

Prince Charles meets NI men of straw
Prince Charles meets the Aughakillymaude mummers at Enniskillen Castle. (© PA)

The Prince and the Duchess of Cornwell met the group of mummers, clad in straw costumes, during their first engagement of the day at the Fermanagh County Museums at Enniskillen Castle.

The Aughakillymaude mummers keep their ancient tradition alive by performing mid-winter plays to ward off evil spirits.

Captain Mummer Jim Ledwith told Charles they meet up with other mummers, or Men of Straw, in England, adding that "it helps if they are cider drinkers".

Prince Charles commended the men for preserving the rural artform, but asked if they "take the lid off first before your pour it in" when partaking in a drink.

He then asked another straw man: "By God, you must get pretty hot in there."

"It gets hot surely, you don't want to have hay fever," replied the mummer.

Accompanied by Lord-Lieutenant of Co Fermanagh Viscount Brookebrough and Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office Andrew Robathan, the Royal Couple visited the Drumclay Crannog Exhibition.

It made headlines last year as it was subject to the first ever scientific excavation and resulted in numerous significant finds.

Charles and Camilla were given a tour of the Inniskillings regimental museum, which tells the story of the town's two regiments, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards.

During the visit, the Royal guests also had the chance to view a painting of the Queen's visit to Enniskillen on her Jubilee tour of 2012, depicting her walking the short but symbolic journey from St McCartin's Church of Ireland Cathedral across the road to St Michael's Catholic Church.

The Duchess viewed a display of Belleek China, for which the area is famous, and saw traditional methods of butter-making in an adjacent display.

They then attended a reception in the nearby 1881 building which was attended by around 120 guests drawn from a wide range of organisations associated with the museum.

The Prince and Duchess then presented with gifts to remind them of their visit to Co Fermanagh, Prince Charles received a Lough Melvin Gosling Trout Fly in a presentation frame while Camilla was given a handcrafted Fermanagh Silver Birch wooden bowl.

On their second engagement of the day the Royals visited the picturesque Florence Court where they viewed some of the restored rooms in the stately home.

They toured the Pleasure Gardens and Summer House with the head ranger and gardener.

They also took the opportunity to meet National Trust volunteers and Tourism Community Partners who help run the visitor attraction and viewed proposed plans for a new visitor centre facility.

They were given a gift of a small cutting from the mother plant of the Irish Yew Tree which was discovered near the estate in 1967.

The Prince and Duchess will continue their visit in the region on Wednesday.

© UTV News
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