I have never seen so many Guards in my life. Town was crawling with them today. I wish I’d bought a camera. Nevertheless, I was able to cycle into work around the cordon of steel in the morning without too much difficulty. Helicopters droned above my building all afternoon.
About 3.30 I met a colleague, originally from Northern Ireland, who had grabbed a place to see the excitement at 1 and was then sneaking back to the office. She said that it was very difficult to get any kind of view. Despite her [quite untrue] pleas to the Guards that she wanted to go to Clery’s [a large Department store] they wouldn’t let her through so she went down to the quays and back up O’Connell Street where, at last, at about 3, her patience was rewarded by sight of the Queen’s cavalcade. She said that the crowd were very sunny [weather overcast though – the Queen is experiencing Irish weather at its most authentic] and there was lots of waving on both sides. My colleague lost the run of herself and started clapping. There were no Union Jacks except for one little boy who had obviously brought his own.
My colleague said that she could hear the Garda radios and there was some trouble further up the street some alleged IRA man was causing a disturbance with a couple of protesters but it seemed to be in hand. She felt, however, that neither the black balloons rising into the sky nor the bangers were likely to have been part of the official plan. There was also some kind of protest in a side street near the office but they were miles from the action.
I can’t help feeling that the Queen is probably not seeing Dublin at its best what with the protests, the rain, the relentless helicopter drone that is following her everywhere and the dull but worthy attractions she is covering during her once in a lifetime trip. I mean, the Garden of Remembrance is all very symbolic and that but it’s quite a poorly laid out little park that isn’t even particularly attractive to the sandwich in the park brigade. Croke Park is a stadium. A historic stadium, but you know, essentially a big field.
I suppose, at least she has the Phoenix Park to herself and the War Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge are nice – designed by Lutyens, lots of roses too. In the novel “Skippy Dies” the teacher takes his class there and is upbraided for taking them to somewhere so rough and dangerous. Of course, compared to near where we live it’s a haven of tranquillity etc. Let us hope that the Queen thinks so also. And she’s scheduled to visit two stud farms on the way to Cork so that’s likely to make up for it, anyway. And, of course, she’ll be going to Cork City– lucky old her.
Myself, I think that’s the worst of it over. The Garden of Remembrance was always likely to be the trickiest. It commemorates those killed in various uprisings over the centuries. No prizes for guessing who they were uprising against. I feel that Croke Park [this link will take you to a piece highlighting incorrect use of the apostrophe] will be ok. And after that, she’s not visiting anything particularly controversial.
And then we can move on to Barack Obama next week. At least he’s not as big a security risk. Maybe some of the Guards will be allowed to go home.
The main event of the week is still being planned of course. I received a frustrated email from my brother about various Communion logistics wherein he observed bitterly: “I tell you there is more planning involved in Mum coming up for the day than in the Queen’s visit.” I can see a new cliché in the making.