Queen’s Enniskillen church visit sparked celebrations during historic Northern Ireland tour

In 2012, the Queen made the significant gesture of crossing the road in Enniskillen between St Macartin's Church of Ireland Cathedral and St Michael’s Catholic church. It was the first time the monarch had ever stepped foot in a Catholic church on the island of Ireland. “It was a short walk but a walk which to me had tremendous significance” recounts Lord Eames, who served as Primate of All Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh from 1986 to 2006.

“On the road that she walked across there was a faded double yellow line and… she walked across it. “None of us thought anything of it at the time. “Later in a personal conversation, the subject came up and she said: ‘You know, to me, walking across that line meant nothing at the time but I hope perhaps I walked across the line of history and helped to bring greater understanding between both sides of that street.’ “Could there be a more profound way of expressing her influence?” Lord Eames adds. “I think it was one of the biggest statements apart from her state visit to Ireland and it appropriately happened after that,” says Lord Brookeborough, the Queen’s personal lord-in-waiting. “Protestant people didn’t so often go to St Michael’s and many Catholic people didn’t logically go to the Cathedral,” explains Lord Brookeborough, who is from Co. Fermanagh. “Her crossing the street broke the mould entirely and I think that in Fermanagh in particular we have a great deal to be grateful for on both sides of the community and I think she will be missed on both sides. “I can’t say what difference it made to individuals but I can say that as communities, it made a tremendous difference. “Communities as a whole have come much more together.”

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh leave St Macartin's Cathedral, accompanied by Dean Kenneth Hall (left) and Lord Anthony Hamilton (right). Credit: PA

Lord Brookeborough remembers how street parties were held to mark the occasion. “It was the only part of Northern Ireland that almost bared to have street parties because the Queen had walked across the street,” he said. “There was a lady there who said to somebody - it may have been our Canon and she was Catholic and she said words to the effect of: ‘Well Canon - Who would’ve ever thought that I would’ve been at a street party for the Queen in Enniskillen.’’ “That I think is it - I think everyone in County Fermanagh is grateful for what the Queen did on that day.”

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