By stepping off of a small commuter plane at Casement Aerodrome near Dublin on Tuesday, May 17, Queen Elizabeth II may well have done just that.
Alighting on to the tarmac after the short flight from England, she marked the first time that a British monarch had visited Ireland since King Edward V in 1911 - though Irish nationalists will point out that she has visited Northern Ireland numerous times.
But though she's been on the throne since 1952, because of The Troubles, the time was never right for her to visit - until now.
It was a trip a century in the making, with more than enough history to go around as the Queen made a series of symbolic visits to sites around Ireland, joined by her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
Her Royal Highness did not waste time in getting the symbolic moments rolling, with a visit to the Garden of Remembrance in downtown Dublin, which was dedicated in 1966 by President Eamon de Valera in memory of all those who gave their lives for Irish freedom, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising in 1916.
The visit to the Garden was described by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs as "a standard element of a state visit," but the band played God Save the Queen at the site where those who fought against British rule were honoured. It was also the site where many leaders of the Rising were held overnight before being taken to Kilmainham Jail.
The Queen was joined by ex-Taoiseagh Bertie Ahern (1997-2008), Brian Cowen (2008-2011) and Albert Reynolds (1992-1994), as well as by her guide for much of the trip, President Mary McAleese, to visit the statues of the Children of Lir, representing the Irish war dead, and lay a wreath. The Queen later visited Trinity College nearby.
Dublin's downtown core was all but shut down, with only Gardai, military personnel, and a handful of protesters from splinter republican groups like Eirgi on the streets. The visit was not all somber ceremony and wreath-laying though.
On May 18, the Queen and Prince Philip reluctantly had to turn down a pint of Ireland's most famous export, Guinness, since they were on duty, despite the best efforts of Fergal Murray, the chief brew master, who poured a perfect pint for the royal couple in 17.5 seconds flat at the famous brewery at St. James' Gate, though Prince Philip did inquire if the brew was indeed still made with water from the River Liffey.
To add to the change of mood for this stop, the Queen and Duke were guided by Late, Late Show host Ryan Tubridy. (Tubridy may also have wanted to get to know the British temperament a little better since he is guest-hosting a BBC Radio series as a summer replacement).
Later that day, the Queen met with Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Government Buildings, before laying a wreath at the War Memorial in Islandbridge, in memory of the 49,400 Irish soldiers who died during the First World War. The event, said to be one of great importance to the Queen, was attended by a large number of Irish Army veterans.
In another first, the Queen visited Croke Park, sight of the first Bloody Sunday on November 21, 1920, when 14 unarmed citizens were gunned down by British troops during a Gaelic football game between Dublin and Tipperary. The massacre was in retaliation for the assassinations of a team of undercover British agents working and living in Dublin the night before which, ironically, also left 14 members dead. The British forces had been killed by a squad sent out by Michael Collins.
The Queen was shown around by Gaelic Athletic Association President Christy Cooney. President McAleese brought along a contingent of school children, who lined up on either side of the entrance wearing the colours of GAA jerseys for each of the 32 counties, as well as those of the GAA clubs in London and New York. The Artane Band, which provides the music at most major GAA sporting events, played a selection of tunes before the Queen checked out both the Same Maguire and Liam McCarthy cups.
THE QUEEN'S SPEECH
As is the monarch's custom of appearing interested, while also projecting an air of professional detachment, Queen Elizabeth was saving her public comments for a state dinner at Dublin Castle on Wednesday evening. She had a bit of company from back home when she was joined by British Prime Minister David Cameron. Kenny said that he used the occasion to raise the question of the release of British files connected with the May 1974 Dublin-Monaghan bombings with Cameron. The bombings had taken place 37 years ago that week.
During the dinner, McAleese made a toast to the Queen. For students of Irish poetry, it was a rather intriguing moment. According to The Guardian newspaper, in 1982, Ireland's Nobel laureate poet, County Derry-born Seamus Heaney, wrote in rhyme why he objected to being included in the Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry: "Be advised, my passport's green/No glass of ours was ever raised/To toast the Queen."
No doubt, those words must have been running through Heaney's mind lo those 29 years later, because Heaney himself, and his wife Marie, were seated in the room for the Queen's speech, and McAleese's toast.
The Queen herself rose to the occasion with her opening remarks, which were noteworthy since they were not made in, well, the Queen's English, but rather in Gaelic: "Uachtarain agus a chaired," drawing a round of applause from the guests.
"We can all see things we wish had been done differently, or not at all," the Queen said. But in spite of the dark times of the past of Anglo-Irish history, the hard work done by both sides was starting to bear fruit.
"What were once hopes for the future, have now come to pass," she said. "Of course, the relationship has not always been straightforward; nor has the record over the centuries been entirely benign. It is a sad and regrettable reality that through history our islands have experienced more than their fair share of heartache, turbulence and loss...To all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past, I extend my sincere thoughts and deep sympathy."
On behalf of her husband, she thanked the Irish people for the chance to "experience at first-hand Ireland's world-famous hospitality." Also in attendance with the guests were Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson and his wife Iris, marking her first public appearance since the scandal involving her personal life.
HORSES AND WALKABOUTS
May 19th saw the royal couple taking a more relaxed approach, with the Queen, a well-known horse fanatic, visiting the Irish National Stud in Tully, County Kildare, the national horse centre where her own thoroughbreds are sent for breeding.
That night, the duo took in a more eclectic show at the Convention Centre back in Dublin at an indoor garden party and concert which showcased the best in Irish music and culture, from The Chieftains to Westlife.
While the Queen's itinerary is often punctual and precise down to the minute, with military-like timing and execution, she surprised onlookers at Cork City's English Market during a spontaneous walkabout to greet members of the public on May 20th.
She emerged from a tour of Cork's famous fresh-food market and crossed the South Mall to greet onlookers and stall owners before unveiling a plaque. Earlier that day, the royal couple had visited the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary. The site dates back to the 12th century and while it might not be Buckingham Palace it has its own royal pedigree, having served as the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for several centuries prior to the Norman invasion.
The horse-themed portion of her visit continued the same day with a visit to the Coolmore Stud in Fethard, County Tipperary.
The couple then left for home from Cork airport, where they were seen off by Kenny. Up to 10,000 Garda and Defence Forces personnel were deployed for the visit, which cost up to 30 million euros, in the largest security operation ever mounted by the state.
With the royal visit behind them, and a chapter closed on a dark part of Ireland's history, the only question that remains for the future now is this - when will the new royal power couple, Kate and William, be dropping by?
Last Updated (Tuesday, 10 January 2012 08:16)