Dublin is just about recovered from the past fortnight. During the Queen’s visit, former Taoiseach Garrett Fitzgerald died. In between the Queen’s departure and Barack Obama’s arrival, he was buried. A State funeral between the two biggest visits of the century so far, I’d say that the protocol people were gibbering by the end of it.
Obama had a very flying visit further curtailed by the danger of the Icelandic ash cloud confining him indefinitely to the land of his (very distant) ancestors. After the collective national holding of our breath which accompanied the Queen’s visit [historic moment, will someone assault her etc. etc.], Obama’s visit was much more relaxing. Ann-Marie Hourihan had a slightly cynical article about the Queen’s visit in yesterday’s Irish Times but she did make one comment that seemed to me very true: “The visit of Eilís A Dó has raised several interesting questions, but above all it demonstrated a central truth: official Ireland is fascinated with itself and never tires of hearing its own fragile story.”
Anyway, there didn’t seem to be the same need to prove ourselves with Obama and nobody was fazed by the Obamamobile getting stuck on a ramp leaving the US embassy. A huge crowd turned out at College Green to hear him speak in uplifting, slightly not-specific language. We just have a much, much less complicated relationship with America and we could all relax and enjoy it.
Well, not all of us, when I got home from work on Monday night no one was home. The children’s bus was cancelled due to the US presidential visit [crucially, not signalled on the Dublin Bus website] and they were traipsing home on foot with the childminder. When I called her they had reached a church about 20 minutes away. I told them to wait there and I would collect them. My poor mites were tired, cold [it was unseasonly chilly], hungry and cranky when I picked them up; they’d been tossed out of the church because the verger was closing up and they were sitting mournfully on the porch. “Obama cancelled our bus,” said the Princess bitterly, “I like the Queen much better.” “Well,” I pointed out, “the Queen cancelled your bus too.” “Yes,” she said, “but she gave us the day off school so it didn’t matter, God save the Queen.”
Oh yeah, and just like the Queen, Obama came out with some Irish. “Is féidir linn” he announced – as Des Bishop said on twitter: #isféidirlinn actually means we can and not #yeswecan but there is no direct translation for positivity in Irish. Nevertheless, I understand that the t-shirts are selling like hot cakes.