Charles meets Henry the Great as hurling maestro gives him sporting lesson

The Prince of Wales tries his hand at hurling as he and the Duchess of Cornwall visit Kilkenny Castle
The Prince of Wales tries his hand at hurling as he and the Duchess of Cornwall visit Kilkenny Castle

The Prince of Wales has been given an exhibition in one of Ireland's ancient games from the country's unofficial king.

As Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall kicked off day two of their third trip to the Republic in as many years, thousands of well wishers lined the streets outside Kilkenny Castle.

The Duchess of Cornwall looks a food stalls during he visit to Kilkenny Castle

The Duchess of Cornwall looks a food stalls during he visit to Kilkenny Castle

Once inside the walls Charles tried his hand at hurling, with one of the game's greatest ever players on hand to advise.

Henry Shefflin, or King Henry as he is better known in his part of the world, demonstrated the art of the sport before passing over the hurley for the prince to score a goal.

"He kept it low into the bottom of the net," the winner of 10 All-Ireland medals said.

"His first question was how hard can you hit it, like anyone they want to see how hard you can hit it.

"But for the first go it was very very good.

"Maybe if he was back here a few years ago Brian would have signed him up at some stage.

"It's a great occasion. It's just a sign of the times."

Also looking on was Brian Cody, Kilkenny hurling manager and also one of the game's greats.

On the burning question of the prince meeting the king, Shefflin added: "I think someone might have briefed him on something but I think he got a little bit confused between myself and Brian, he wasn't quite sure which one of us had retired."

The visit is part of a four-day trip to Northern Ireland and the Republic.

On Wednesday the royal couple met Irish President Michael D Higgins and his wife after visiting a police memorial in Belfast.

On Tuesday they travelled to the HomePlace visitor centre dedicated to the late Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney.

Charles used his first opportunity to speak publicly to highlight reconciliation between Britain and Ireland.

Addressing dignitaries in the Great Hall in Kilkenny Castle, he said: "Coming to Ireland gives us the opportunity, I hope, just to remind everyone of the enormous strength and warmth of the relation between our countries.

"It is a very special relationship and I have every intention of making it even more special if I possibly can.

"And to also build on the most important aspect of all which is reconciliation.

"I know the President (of Ireland) Michael D Higgins, who I admire greatly, who has done so much in that regard."

Ireland's Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan praised the prince's planned visit to Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin on Friday where he will pay respects to the dead of the First World War and also to those who died in Ireland's 1916 Easter Rising.

"This act of respectful memory represents a further enhancement of relations between our two countries as close friends and neighbours, even as both seek to manage contemporary challenges in changing times," Mr Flanagan said.

Charles also spoke of his desire to keep coming to Ireland, a trip that has taken place every May for the last three years.

"I hope and pray that during the rest of my life, before I drop dead, I might have the chance to visit as many of the counties as possible in this great country," he said.

Outside the castle the royal couple spent time shaking hands with locals and toured a local farmers' market.

Charles quipped how he declined a taste of the "most fiendish little drink", a tonic ominously named Dragon's Fire, made from garlic.

He also remarked on his prowess with the hurley and his relief "not to have disgraced myself entirely by missing the goal and hitting a member of the press corps between the eyes".