Prince Charles to visit peace centre at Corrymeela

Appropriate place to end visit that has been all about healing past wounds

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, talks with singers during a reception and concert featuring performers from Northern Ireland at Hillsborough Castle on Thursday night. Photograph: Getty

The Prince of Wales is to visit Northern Ireland's oldest peace and reconciliation centre on Friday at the conclusion of a trip which has been all about healing past wounds.

The daughter of Lord Mountbatten has supported the Corrymeela Centre on the dramatic North Coast for years in its work with victims of violence on all sides.

Charles paid tribute to his great uncle earlier this week during a poignant visit to the scene of his 1979 killing by the IRA on a boat off the west coast of Ireland.

Corrymeela executive director Colin Craig said his centre was an appropriate place to end what will have been an emotional week for the prince.


“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 Nicholas who was also killed in 1979."

Earl Mountbatten, who enjoyed summer holidays for decades at nearby Classiebawn Castle, was blown up on board the pleasure boat Shadow V after he set out from the harbour at Mullaghmore along Co Sligo’s Atlantic coast to pick lobster pots and fish.

The other victims were Lady Doreen Brabourne, 83, the mother-in-law of Mountbatten's daughter, who died a day later; Nicholas Knatchbull, the earl's grandson, who was 14; and his friend Paul Maxwell, a 15-year-old local boy from Killynure, Enniskillen, who had worked on preparing the royal boat for fishing.

Countess Mountbatten set up the Nicholas Knatchbull Memorial Fund in 2006 in memory of her son, Nicholas.

The fund has supported family week programmes at Corrymeela for a number of years.

The Corrymeela Centre worked with victims throughout the Troubles and opened its doors 50 years ago.

It sees around 11,000 people a year at its residential centre in Ballycastle, Co Antrim.

Community leader Pádraig Ó Tuama, who will host 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.

“All are welcome to our site in Ballycastle, which has been a place of listening, acceptance and healing for thousands.”

Corrymeela was founded by Ray Davey and students from Queens University Belfast in 1965 and its work was quickly shaped by the bloodshed of the conflict.

It uses dialogue, experiential play, art, storytelling, mealtimes and shared community to help groups embrace difference and learn how to have difficult conversations.

It works alongside visiting university groups as well as groups from other parts of the world who wish to learn from its experience, and learn how to apply the “Corrymeela lens” to fractures in their own societies.

Lord Mountbatten was admiral of the fleet in the Second World War and the last viceroy of India.

His murder happened on one of the bloodiest day of the Troubles.

As news of the royal assassination reverberated worldwide, 18 British soldiers were blown up in an IRA ambush in Co Down which became known as the Narrow Water massacre.

Referring directly to the impact the murder had on him, Charles said this week: “Through this dreadful experience, though, I now understand in a profound way the agonies borne by so many others in these islands, of whatever faith, denomination or political tradition.”

The prince is also due to visit the National Trust’s Mount Stewart on the shores of Strangford Lough following the completion of a three-year restoration project.