Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Past is a Foreign Country

Gareth Russell comments on the Queen's speech at the official state dinner during the royal visit last week, saying:
And then, all of a sudden, you feel goose pimples shoot up and down your arm when the Queen begins a speech in Irish. It's then that you realise that the world has changed and that Ireland isn't a place of  ghosts, rebels, blood and loyalists. It's 2011 and it's a great place to live. It's a small country, one of the smallest of the English speaking nations, and yet its national saint's day is a holiday in one of the largest; Irish charm, hospitality, friendliness, ease of living, inappropriate sense of humour and the indefinable quality of craic is known and praised throughout the world. On both sides of the border, despite the south's current economic crisis, high standards of living are enjoyed and in the north, economic prosperity is made all the more remarkable when, as the Queen reflects, it's been just over a decade since it emerged from what was one of the most vicious political conflicts in western Europe after the Second World War. In Ireland, everyone's supposed to know what you are, who you vote for, what sports you follow and which type of passport is sitting in your bedside drawer. Our identities have all been very clearly drawn, right down to the way you pronounce the letter "h." We're pros at telling through a dozen subtle signals what type of church you pray in on a Sunday and, based on that, which national anthem you'll stand for. And then, the Queen of England speaks Irish.


Gareth Russell said...

Thank you very much for the link.

lara77 said...

What a wonderful article! I enjoyed the Queen's speech( I guess I was hoping for more apologies to the Irish People); yet President McAleese gave a beautiful speech and welcome to the Queen. There is so much history and tragedy between these peoples. Let us hope and pray that it remains just that; a sad history that is long gone.