Rotha Mór an tSaoil

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Seachtain an-tábhachtach i stair na hÉireann agus i stair na Breataine Móire an tseachtain seo.

Seachtain an-tábhachtach i stair na hÉireann agus i stair na Breataine Móire an tseachtain seo.

Thug Uachtarán na hÉireann cuairt ar mhonarc Sasanach den chéad uair. Ar an drochuair, ní bhfuair mé cuireadh: b’fhéidir gur cailleadh sa phost é. Tá díomá an domhain orm: dúradh liom go raibh béile an-bhlasta acu i gCaisleán Windsor.

Bhí anraith neantóige acu mar chúrsa tosaigh. Ansin tháinig an príomhchúrsa: stóbhach Gaelach nó crúibíní muice le prátaí brúite agus bláthach. Ní raibh milseog ann mar gheall ar an ghéarchéim eacnamaíochta. D’ól siad uisce sconna in áit Ballygowan toisc go bhfuil an Bhreatain báite i bhfiacha. Ní dúirt m’fhoinse liom cé a nigh na soithí. Chuaigh gach duine abhaile nó go dtí an teach lóistín i minicab. Líon siad na foirmeacha costas ar an bhealach.

Ach bhí ceiliúradh i bhfad níos mó ann nuair a chaith an Bhanríon Victoria trí lá is fiche i mBaile Átha Cliath i 1900. (Níl mé ag insint bréige.) Bhi an chathair gléasta le Union Jacks. Dúirt Seán T. Ó Ceallaigh: ‘Déarfá agus tú ag féachaint ar na comharthaí dílseachta, gurbh í Banríon na hÉireann dáiríre í an Bhanríon Victoria.’ Bhí cóisir do 52,000 páiste i bPáirc an Fhionnuisce. Bhí cóisir phoblachtánach in iomaíocht leis an chóisir mhór i bpáirc eile. Chuaigh páistí áirithe go dtí an dá chóisir! Tá cur síos gairid ar an chuairt seo in Almanag Éireannach 1, le Diarmuid Breathnach.

Is ionadaí iontach é Micheál D. Ó hUiginn. Is léir go léiríonn a chuairt feabhas ar chaidreamh taidhleoireachta. Ach i ndiaidh na cóisire, brachán arís. Tá na fabhbanna móra againn go foill: dífhostaíocht, imirce, coiriúlacht, bochtanas, títhíocht srl. srl. Tá daoine ag cur airgead mór isteach i mbancanna coitianta agus daoine eile ag dul i scuaine taobh amuigh de bhancanna bia. Ach nach maith le gach duine an sorcas?

The great wheel of life

This was a very important week in the history of Great Britain and Ireland.

An Irish President visited an English monarch for the first time.

Unfortunately, I did not receive an invitation: perhaps it was lost in the post.

I am very disappointed.

I have been told that they had a delightful meal in Windsor Castle.

They had nettle soup for starters.

Then came the main course: Irish stew or pig’s trotters, with poundies and buttermilk.

There was no sweet because of the economic crisis. They drank tap water instead of Ballygowan, because Britain is deep in debt.

I was not told who washed the dishes. Everyone went home, or back to the boarding house in minicabs.

They filled in their expenses forms en route.

But there was a much greater celebration when Queen Victoria spent 23 days in Dublin in April 1900. ( I am not telling a lie.)

The city was bedecked with Union Jacks. Seán T. Ó Ceallaigh said: ‘Looking at all the loyalist symbols, you would have said that Queen Victoria was really Queen of Ireland.’ There was a party for 52,000 children in Phoenix Park. There was a rival republican feast in another park. Some children attended both parties! There is a short account of this visit in Almanag Éireannach 1, by Diarmuid Breathnach.

Micheál D. O’Higgins is a marvellous representative. It is obvious that diplomatic relations have improved.

But after the party, back to porridge. We still have the big problems: unemployment, emigration, crime, housing etc. etc. Some people put large amounts into the ordinary banks, while others queue at the food banks. But doesn’t everyone enjoy the circus?