An American in Irelandby The Yank
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One hundred years ago today the Titanic eased down the slipway and into the River Lagan in Belfast. For the most of the past 99 years Belfast has ignored or at least played down the Titanic connection thanks to the sense of shame that attached to the ship's sinking.
That is all changing today.
Today Belfast is grasping its Titanic legacy with both hands. The Titanic has morphed from a tragedy into a romantic tragedy over the decades, mostly thanks to Hollywood. That process started long ago, but it's only recently that Belfast has joined in. As the great-grandson of one of Belfast's Titanic workers explained to
It seems everyone in Ireland is feeling great about themselves after the visit of President Obama yesterday. It was the ultimate feel‑good day, with the most powerful man on Earth and "coolest President ever" shaking hands, kissing babies and schmoozing with the Irish people for a few hours.
The President delivered a speech in front of tens of thousands at College Green in Dublin, a beautiful, mostly sun-drenched setting that looked spectacular yesterday. The speech itself, however, was pure cotton candy: tastes good, but when you try to swallow it there's nothing there. If you
It's a big news story, possibly the biggest coming out of Europe these past few days. Britain's Queen in Ireland where she has never been despite the short distance between Britain and Ireland. History said 'No' to such a visit until now.
It wasn't just the Queen who was here either. Prime Minister David Cameron was here for a while and his Foreign Minister William Hague was here for the duration of the Queen's visit. This was a big occasion in the history of both countries.
If a building can be happy then without doubt the happiest building in the world yesterday was the main building at the front of Trinity College in Dublin. Flying on the top of the flagpole above the building, waving wildly in the stiff breeze was the Union Jack, last seen above Trinity 90 years ago. The flag was probably the same one that flew above Trinity in the early 1920s, lovingly stored all these years waiting for this very occasion.
The British flag was in honor of Queen Elizabeth II who was visiting the college on the first day of her visit to Ireland.
Starting tomorrow Dublin is going into lockdown as the city prepares for the visits of Queen Elizabeth II followed by President Obama over the next ten days. While the heightened security might be necessary, many Dublin residents (and tourists too, I imagine) are wondering if it's worth all the aggravation they have to endure.
Initially the reports of extra security were just shrugged off. It was more a smile than a grimce when we were informed that the gardaí (police) would be examining, and then sealing, all the manholes near where the Queen and President were scheduled to be in order to ensure that nothing (or no one) explosive could erupt from below. It was also reported that end-of-year exams at Trinity College were postponed for next week, but that was either just a rumor or the college changed its call. Students can get access to the college and exams are going ahead.
Trinity is closed, however, if you are not a student. So, no tours of the old campus and no chance to see the Book of Kells.
"France has no friends, only interests," said General Charles de Gaulle in response to a question from Winston Churchill. It's a telling reminder that in international relations it's one thing to talk about our "friends" in Europe or America or wherever, but quite another to believe such talk.
I was waiting for it all day Monday. When I hadn't heard much I thought that perhaps the people of Ireland were so enamored of Barack Obama that somehow the 'usual suspects' would feel compelled to shut up about poor 'ol Osama meeting his untimely demise. I'm certain that if bin Laden's killing had happened under President Bush the "discomforted" would have taken to the airwaves instantly and been firing off op-ed pieces and letters to the Irish Times before bin Laden had had time to make friends with the fishes.
It's dark and damp in this part of Ireland today and for once that's not unwelcome. Large parts of the country have been ablaze recently as unusually dry weather has allowed ludicrously stupid people to set large tracts of land on fire. These wild fires are known as gorse fires here.
When I answered the phone I was expecting the worst, something seriously wrong with someone in my family or my wife's. I let the phone ring once more to try to ensure I was as awake as possible to hear what was being said.