IT’S after been a truly momentuous week, full of symbolism, goodwill, hope, pageantry and pride.
Who would have thought that a State visit from Queen Elizabeth 11 could have been the catsylst to restore a semblance of pride to a badly wounded national psyche. And to top it all off, President Obama’s visit on Monday was the icing on the cake, a reminder once again of our rich heritage and its influence worldwide.
Rarely has so much history been compressed within a week, and rarely could one sense the tide of history flowing as it did in places such as the Garden of Remembrance, Islandbridge, Dublin Castle and then Moneygall.
The Queen’s visit itself was an unexpected triumph, heralding the beginning of a new era and the laying to rest of old wounds and grievances. The death of the former Taoiseach Dr Garrett Fitzgerald during the visit added further poignancy to the occasion, given his selfless work in Anglo-Irish relations.
Indeed, the recollection of his life and career was another reminder of so much that is good and positive about the country. Here after all was a true public servant, a man totally committed to his country, and who was an example of the power of perseverance in the face of adversity. His insightful commentary will be missed as we face continuing challenges.
The warm afterglow of the visits will continue for some time to come. Their import will be difficult to assess in the immediate term. However, one can safely say that after a few torrid years for the country, they seemed to herald the beginnings of a new start, and they succeeded in restoring hope, pride and confidence.
Yes, there will be more bad news and we are still in the same mess as we were last month. But above all these visits by the Queen and President Obama serve as reminders of our capacity and resourcefulness and the goodwill that still exists for us in the rest of the world. At so many levels they were votes of confidence in us as a nation and a people.
The job now is to utilise the goodwill generated by these occasions, as we navigate the testy waters that lie ahead. However, we now do so with a renewed sense of self belief, and a newfound determination to move on.
Ireland has received much negative attention in the last few years. The positive vibes emanating from the past week must be harnessed as we make our case again to Europe and the wider world. The political and economic challenge will be to use this to best effect.