It should come as no surprise to many observers that there has been an enormous groundswell of interest in Meghan Markle and her potential Irish ancestry after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced that they would be touring the beautiful verdant green spaces of Ireland, according to The Irish Times. Yesterday, Markle and her newly-minted husband, Harry Windsor, were both treated to a deeper tour of Dublin, according to Irish Central, including visiting the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, at his official residence of Aras an Uachtarain, in addition to stopping by Croke Park, Trinity College Dublin, and EPIC, the Irish Emigration Museum.
Meghan Markle does have some Irish blood coursing through her veins, however, as history tells the tale. Her great-grandmother thrice removed, Mary Smith, was born in Ballinasloe in 1829, a small township in County Galway. Marrying a British soldier by the name of Thomas Bird, an act considered morally disgraceful at a time of increasing Irish nationalism, meant that Markle’s distant ancestor was disowned by her family and was therefor forced to relocate to England, facing effective exile as the cost of her romance with Bird. Soon thereafter, the couple moved to the island of Malta as part of a when Bird was transferred.
The Duchess was welcomed “home” with a whirlwind tour of the sights and sounds of Ireland, first meeting up with President Higgins at the historic Aras an Uachtarain and signing the state reception room guestbook over small talk over the then-upcoming World Cup semifinal match between England and Croatia. Despite Markle’s insistence that England would win, the British team was defeated in a heartbreaking 2-1 upset with Croatia moving to the finals against France to be held this Sunday. Harry, for his part, refused to comment at the time, believing it better not to “jinx” the effort, a wise decision in hindsight.
Greeted by Uachtarán John Horan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have arrived to @CrokePark for a very special visit to the GAA Museum and a demonstration of our Games #RoyalVisitIreland pic.twitter.com/rq40yIq5q7
— The GAA (@officialgaa) July 11, 2018
The tour continued through the famous Croke Park, where Meghan and Harry managed to hit the hurling pitch and to immerse themselves briefly in the truly Gaelic game. They then proceeded to Trinity College Dublin to be thronged by an adoring crowd, afterwards paying their respects in solemn fashion at the Irish Famine Memorial, a recognition of the loss of life and suffering at the hands of the historic potato famine as well as the massive waves of emigration that took place in response to one of the greatest tragedies of the 19th century.
Not everyone was happy with the visiting couple however, with some irate protesters hurling political threats as Meghan and Harry had a conversation with the sculptor responsible for crafting the memorial, Rowan Gillespie. “Up the RA”, a statement of support for the Provisional Irish Republican Army, and “Tiocfaidh ar la”, a Gaelic phrase translated to “Our day will come” in English, were both audibly heard shouted by dissidents unhappy with the English royalty being honored so.
Finally, the married royals took a tour of EPIC, the Irish Emigration Museum. It was there that Meghan Markle was afforded the brief chance to further investigate her Irish roots, followed by a musical concert performed by local artists.