I like having visitors. The house gets cleaned in advance, and I get to find things previously considered lost. We sit round the table, drink wine and blather. We might even show off scenery/ local sights. We may marvel at how time has changed Belfast. Then, I’m always happy to see the visitors off, to relax and to return to the sofa with the wine and the hot water bottle, relieved that the stay has passed without a crisis of some sort.

That’s pretty much how I’ve felt about the visit of the Queen to the Republic. I was a bit anxious the whole time she was on the island, afraid that there would be an awful security incident, or a ridiculous gaffe of some sort by Prince Philip or others.

The visit was significant in the development of Anglo Irish relations, full of ritual, symbolism and days out to tourist attractions. The Queen laid a wreath for those who had fought for independence, and for those 49,400 Irish dead from World War 1 who died fighting for Britain. There was the odd sight of people refusing free beer and the even more unusual sight of half a dozen people sitting, lined up in front of a huge screen at one of the biggest sports stadiums (stadia?) in Europe.

The visit to Croke Park was important, but without the emotion of the 2007 Ireland vs England rugby match- the silence of 82,000 people during national anthems is more stirring than a little old lady sitting down quietly. On the day Herself’s parents got married, 21 November 1920, British forces had killed 14 at Croke Park, in retaliation for the murder that day of suspected British intelligence agents in Dublin.

The highlight of the trip for me was The Speech. I never expected that anything ever said by a monarch would give me goosebumps. The Queen spoke a few words of Irish (A hUachtarain agus a chairde- President and friends), recognised the various layers of historical complexity in the relationship between the countries and expressed regret. She displayed  great warmth, and surprised everyone.

Indeed, apart from the traffic chaos and the  few protests, the surprise of the visit is how well it went, how much goodwill (or at least non-negativity) was generated. Brownie points to all organisers and participants- now you can breathe out.


6 thoughts on “visitors

  1. We’re so glad it went well. I hope we’re already friends: politics gets in the way.

    I’m of Irish descent myself: my great-great-grandparents on my Mum’s maternal side came over to Liverpool during the famine, and somewhere along the way on her paternal side because her maiden name was Murphy.

    1. That’s it Tilly Bud, my friend, we’re all so interconnected! SpursFan is from Essex, his mother is from Co Clare- she and all her siblings left during the 50s and 60s and raised families in England. There’s a great bit here by Joseph O’Connor- sorry I can’t work out how to take you straight there. (soon the children will be able to sort out all the tech queries, but for now I’m glad that some aspects of the internet remain beyond them )
      Also, Ms xtrekki is a Murphy 🙂

  2. Well, Tilly Bud, maybe we’re related!! As for the Visit – is that us all growed up now, able to welcome all comers to the island, especially when they come in goodwill??? I hope so!

  3. It went brilliantly, everyone here was thrilled by her, and her genuine smiles, looking as if she was really enjoying herself.

    And we are so inter-connected – I know so many English who work here and of course thousands of us are over there. In the 1950s so many people went there for work that a huge number of people here around my age were actually born there. We worked out one day at school that 12 of the 27 people in my class were born in England.

    Including me, I was born in Birkenhead (see Tilly, we’re practically neighbours). So was my brother. His wife was born in Liverpool, and mine in London.

    So anyway, well done to the Queen (and to Philip, he is 90 after all). Barrack Obama is coming here on Monday and I’m finding it very hard to get excited after the week we’ve just had.

  4. Not only is Ms xtrekki a Murphy, but she has forbears from the Midlands, Liverpool, Wales, Scotland, Co Cork and Co Down!!!! A rich cultural cocktail!!

  5. The visitors did well and all the boxes were ticked. I believe the Queen told the taoiseach that she would like to come again. Maybe next time she will get to meet the people.

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