Unlike most people in Ireland, I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the Easter Sunday commemorations in Dublin last month, a grand occasion which unfolded within steps of the General Post Office (GPO) where the most symbolic stand was made by the revolutionaries of 1916.
I still cannot quite believe my luck about this. I feel fortunate because as a member of the press I was offered a privilege denied to most Irish citizens. On the day a massive security operation was in place that ensured Ireland's top tier politicians (and their invited guests in a separate viewing section) were the main witnesses of the dignified and stately commemorations at the GPO.
I was huddled in a press box directly opposite our political leaders on O'Connell Street, and I marveled that I had a front seat for another historic moment in the nation's history.
But alongside my feeling of good fortune, I like a lot of other Irish people felt ambivalent about the current state of the country.
Taking their seats were former taoiseachs Brian Cowen, a solitary and rather haunted looking figure on the podium, and Bertie Ahern, the second longest serving taoiseach, who has lived to see his legacy largely diminished by history.
Looking at them, I recalled that they had presided over two of the most significant decades of prosperity the nation had ever seen, but they had failed to capitalize on it for the public's good. Public health, education and infrastructure were all left floundering, and for the most part they still are.
We were all waiting for the current caretaker Taoiseach Enda Kenny to arrive in his chauffeur driven Mercedes. As we waited I looked up at the rooftops and saw at least six camouflaged sharp shooters tasked with protecting the government from potential 2016 insurrections.
But it was the weird isolation of our political class, protected behind crash barriers and walls of steel and sharp shooters and impassable police cordons that made such a telling contrast with the public nature of the occasion.
We were ostensibly here to celebrate the moment that led to our independence, but here were the heads of that Republic, quite aloof and unreachable, and for the most part even unobservable.
If I had stayed at home in New York City, I reflected, I would have seen more of what was unfolding on O'Connell Street right now than the members of the Dublin public, all safely penned behind far away crash barriers.
I didn't know at the time why I found all this so striking. It was only afterwards that it began to make sense to me.
For the most part, I reflected later, our political class live behind un-scalable crash barriers, comfortably firewalled from the consequences of their actions.
If they lose they are merely out of a job, and often only temporarily. They still retain their enviable bank accounts and their ill-fitting black overcoats.
It's the public that has to really carry the can in Ireland. When they lose they lose as one and there are no crash barriers in sight, no ways to absorb the shocks, no firewalls.
So I looked at our government leaders, sitting in their isolated government box like a state within the state, like a pale within the pale. They were even firewalled from each other by the party they belonged to and by its own particular historic inheritances.
No man is an island, but our political parties have always been, it seemed to me. And there was something profoundly disheartening about their apparent comfort with all their isolation.
That's the kind of isolation that only solidifies itself across class, across geographical location, and across generations. It doesn't melt. It freezes.
But our leaders see neither incentive or reason to change their piecemeal and partial policy approaches, even after the public has dramatically guillotined their mandate to rule.
And I thought again of MacDonagh and MacBride and Connolly and Pearse. Their egalitarian uprising foresaw a time when we were all cherished equally as citizens of a an independent and democratic Republic.
The reality has turned out to be quite different, however. Dictated to by the European Central Bank, forced to emigrate because of sheer lack of opportunity, and unable to reach or at times like this even see our own political leaders, if the public good was overlooked in the boom times, what plan do these isolated leaders really have for us in times like these?