Queen seeks reconciliation on 4-day Irish tour

DUBLIN - May 18, 2011

The queen's visit to Croke Park on the second day of her historic trip to the Republic of Ireland highlights the vast improvement in Anglo-Irish relations since those dark days. It brought the English monarch to a large sports stadium that is a revered spot for Irish nationalists who mourn those who died there during the conflict with Britain.

The seats of the stadium - the home of the Gaelic Athletic Association - were empty, a sign of the extensive security during her visit. A band played, its sounds echoing off the stadium walls.

The queen and her husband Prince Philip began the day with a visit to the Guinness Storehouse, one of Ireland's most popular sites, and also saw the famous Gravity Bar, which offers a panoramic view of Dublin.

Master brewer Fergal Murray expertly prepared a pint of Guinness for the queen in the Gravity Bar, but she declined after smiling broadly. Prince Philip gazed at the brew with obvious longing but also walked away without a taste.

Earlier, he had joked with Murray, "Is it made with Liffey water?" referring to the nearby river.

The Guinness tour struck a light note on an otherwise serious visit.

The queen, in an ivory outfit with oversize blue buttons that matched her hat, went directly from the Guinness building for a meeting with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.

Later Wednesday, she will make her only public speech of the four-day visit during a state dinner hosted by Irish President Mary McAleese, who invited the queen to visit Ireland.

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