As part of a tour of County Armagh, President McAleese and her husband Dr Martin McAleese visited Darkley House on Thursday 27 January 2011.
During her time at Darkley the President and her husband spoke with the directors, staff, volunteers and residents. She saw the Darkley House kitchen (where it all happens) and the inside of one of the residents’ flats, a moment that resident will not forget!
President McAleese addressed the assembled gathering and spoke encouragingly of the benefits to the community of groups like Crossfire Trust. Afterwards Shirley Bowers (from Huntingdon, the home town of Oliver Cromwell) gave the President a framed letter from the people of Huntingdon to the people of Ireland, signed by church leaders, being an apology for the atrocities committed by Cromwell in Ireland a long time ago. Ian Bothwell gave her a framed photograph of Darkley House.
Both the President and Dr McAleese have local links. Mary McAleese lived for some time in Rosstrevor where she was familiar with the Christian Renewal Centre. Her husband used to practise dentistry in Crossmaglen. Their interest in the area and what happens in it was evident throughout the visit.