I think the Queen’s visit to the Republic of Ireland for a 4-day state visit beginning May 17 is just brilliant. She welcomed the pope last year.—-from her role as head of the Church of England—and now she attends to the most symbolic gesture possible from her role as figurehead of the state of that sceptered isle.
No other living ruler is such a nexus for history, with that capital H. And she is deeply self aware of this role. I believe that’s why she’s making this trip as an 85 year old, with the 91 year old Prince Philip, while she still can.
The history of England’s obscene rule over Ireland for centuries should not be forgotten. If anyone needs a refresher on how harsh the Penal Laws were, or how people could be hanged for high treason for wearing the color green, you can read an old St. Patrick’s Day post.
And of course the 20th century saw decades and decades of the bloodiest, most soul-crushing violence between these two Christian countries as Britain became a paramilitary and military presence amongst the general public, thus feeding the fires of the IRA. But in the 21st century, it’s time to get beyond all that. And the Queen coming for a visit and sleeping 3 nights on Irish soil-—trusting her very safety to the good people of Ireland--is a significant, encouraging statement about the future.
It’s the Economy, Stupid
Ireland has a more immediate problems at the moment than the contemplation of its bloody family history with Great Britain. Their bank collapse and debt crises is terrifying everyone.
And so with the usual Irish dry wit, Eoghan Harris writes in The Observer:
"The country is so preoccupied with the financial crisis. I don't know anyone who isn't suffering," he said. "There's no passion about the Queen's visit, but there's a benign affability. She is regarded like an eccentric aunt who should have called in a long time ago but didn't because of a family row, the origins of which have been long forgotten."
I believe that the Anglo-Saxon soul and the Celtic soul are deeply different in sensibility: it’s the difference between Shakespeare and Joyce. Between Milton and Yeats. And each should retain its own, fierce identity. But the killing. That has to be over, for good.
(Photo: a pub in Dublin)