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  • Northside East

Howth kids meet Prince Albert  

Friday, 28th June, 2019 1:00pm
Howth kids meet Prince Albert  

Mayor of Cap d’Ail, Xavier Beck, speaking after he made a presentation to Rob Patton of Howth Celtic (left).

Howth kids meet Prince Albert  

Mayor of Cap d’Ail, Xavier Beck, speaking after he made a presentation to Rob Patton of Howth Celtic (left).

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WHEN sports teams travel to another country for a competition, they often say, upon their return, they were treated like royalty. 

For a Northside soccer team this was literally the case during their recent trip to France.   

A team of Howth schoolboy soccer players had an extraordinary royal meet-and-greet after Prince Albert of Monaco insisted on welcoming them personally to a French soccer tournament.

Prince Albert flew in by helicopter to the event specifically to meet the Howth Celtic Under 10s in order to honour his Irish heritage.

The Prince’s mother, actress Grace Kelly, became Princess Grace after marrying Monaco’s Prince Rainier in 1956.

However, she maintained close links with family in Ireland, making a famous visit in 1961. After her untimely death, her husband opened the Princess Grace Irish Library in Monaco in 1984 as a tribute to her roots.

And her love of Ireland was passed down to her son, Prince Albert, who is a regular visitor to Ireland, last travelling here in 2017.

When he heard that an Irish team was going to be playing in an Under-10 soccer tournament in Cap D’Ail, in the South of France, the Prince insisted on meeting them. He met every one of the youngsters and their accompanying parents and coaches.

Robert Patton, coach of the Howth Celtic Under 10s, told Northside People: “We were told that Prince Albert especially wanted to meet our children given his maternal links to Ireland.

“The Prince arrived late in the afternoon and greeted each of the children individually. He was then introduced to the four Howth Celtic coaches by Xavier Beck, the Mayor of Cap d'Ail, and our host for the weekend. 

”The Prince then greeted all of the parents individually, with some chatting to him about his frequent visits to Mayo.”

Mr Patton presented Prince Albert with a Howth Celtic jersey and pennant and thanked him for the hospitality shown by Mr Beck and his colleagues.  

Howth Celtic brought two Under 10 teams, comprising 23 children, to compete in the one-day tournament.  

Thirty adults and other siblings also travelled with the group. The French hosts spared nothing in welcoming the Irish to the small village. 

The children were treated to travelling on the AS Monaco coach to and from the airport. Mayor Beck welcomed the party at Le Chateau de Teracces on the Friday evening, where Howth Celtic were presented with a silver engraved memorial plate.  

Each child was presented with a jersey from the local children, their opponents the following day.  

This was followed by a buffet in front of the Chateau which was lit up in green for the evening.

On the Saturday, the Irish teams competed well in the tournament with local teams including AS Monaco.  

One Howth team narrowly missed out on the semi final stage. The tournament was followed by a BBQ for the kids, parents and their opponents from Cap d'Ail and Corsica.

Former Irish captain Richard Dunne, who runs a soccer academy in the village, also gave the children two training sessions.   

Dunne will be bringing his academy to Howth Celtic in late August while the club is already planning to invite the Cap d'Ail and Corsica kids to Howth in the future.

The Howth Celtic youngsters get a taste of the high life at the home of AS Monaco. Three of the Howth Celtic youngsters enjoying their trip to France.

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here