Prince Charles Visits Northern Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation centre

Corrymeela Volunteer Michael Maundu from Kenya presenting Prince Charles with one of his paintings.
Corrymeela Volunteer Michael Maundu from Kenya presenting Prince Charles with one of his paintings.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall visited the world renowned peace centre in Ballycastle on Friday. They met staff, local and international volunteers and children from local primary schools.

The Royal visit was themed around peace and reconciliation and in his speech Prince Charles paid tribute to the work of Corrymeela.

“In the roots of Corrymeela, we can discover lessons that can serve as a model to all who strive for peace and reconciliation.  As you know so much better than I, Corrymeela was founded by Ray Davey, a remarkable man whose experience of suffering as a prisoner of war inspired him to wrestle with the question of building community amidst conflict. I was lucky enough to meet him when I came here all those years ago.  It was this vision that led him to establish a place where people of different backgrounds, different political and religious beliefs and different identities could gather to break bread, to work together, to learn and, most of all, to talk about the hurts which are too deep to bear in silence.  As I said earlier this week in Sligo, healing is possible even when the heartache continues – and the fruits of Corrymeela over the past fifty years bear testament to this.”

Corrymeela believes that we can learn to live and work well together and the lessons of reconciliation in Northern Ireland can also be applied to fractures in many countries across the world. Executive Director Colin Craig believes this an appropriate place to end what will have been an emotional visit for Prince Charles.

“For many years we have worked with victims of violence on all sides and Prince Charles understands the pain of losing a close family member. It is also poignant that some of our work with families and young people over the last few years has been supported by a fund set up by Countess Mountbatten in memory of her son Nicolas who was also killed in 1979.”

Corrymeela Community Leader Pádraig Ó Tuama who hosted the visit and tour of the site said,

“Corrymeela’s journey over the last 50 years has shown us the power of people telling their stories, of shared hospitality, of telling the truth about the present, of turning towards each other and finding strength, life and hope in each other.

Prince Charles’s visit shows the importance of gestures of reconciliation, where people who have been affected by violence acknowledge what has happened in a way that addresses the future with wisdom, leadership and hope. “

Corrymeela works with around 11,000 people a year at its residential centre in Ballycastle.