Tipperary’s role in a very special week

The visit of Queen Elizabeth provided Ireland with one of its most remarkable weeks.

The visit of Queen Elizabeth provided Ireland with one of its most remarkable weeks.

Few can have expected a State visit to go so well.

The organisation and meticulous planning ensured that there wasn’t one hitch over the four days.

The event has lifted national spirit and morale during one of our most difficult economic periods ever.

We still have a long way to go to get our economy back on track but the feel-good factor from the Queen’s visit has given us something to concentrate on other than our financial woes.

And of course there may be a financial dividend as well from the historic visit. Economic ties between the two countries look certain to be strengthened while it’s difficult to gauge what the impact on our tourism industry will be.

However it’s likely to be immense as the coverage that was beamed across the world will have shown Ireland in a very positive light.

It’s a pity that the security restrictions meant that every street in Dublin looked deserted as the Queen was driven through but that was a price that had to be paid to ensure her safety.

But that was outweighed by the images of the Queen in the Garden of Remembrance, Island Bridge, Croke Park, the National Stud, at the State Banquet, in Cork and of course in Cashel.

Her visits to the Garden of Remembrance and Croke Park will have played a huge part in ending the centuries of animosity between the two countries. She bowed her head to Irish war dead who fought against the British as well as visiting the site of Bloody Sunday in the GAA headquarters.

Her visit brought the curtain down on a lot of old memories and wounds. Grangemockler man Michael Hogan, whose uncle was shot dead in Croke Park on the fateful day in 1920, might have had a greater reason than most to oppose the Queen’s visit to Croke Park but he was most eloquent when he said that Bloody Sunday had happened over ninety years ago and now was the time to move on.

That attitude was encapsulated throughout the visit - and on both sides. The Irish were not going to use the occasion to reopen old wounds that have been part of our history for so long while the Queen used the opportunity as well to express some regret for the past deeds of her country’s forces.

Another significant aspect of the the visit had a major Tipperary influence.

The visit to the Rock of Cashel on Friday was a spectacular success. Despite the grey clouds as the Queen arrived, the sun eventually shone and the Rock never looked better.

Wonderful images of the famed Tipperary landmark were beamed around the world and those who weren’t aware of the site’s magnificence certainly are now.

And to make the occasion more special, local Sinn Fein mayor Michael Browne rejected the calls of his party to stay away from the proceedings and instead he battled serious illness to ensure he was there and welcome the Queen to the City of the Kings.

It was a tremendous gesture on his part and was probably the only worthwhile Sinn Fein contribution to the Queen’s visit.

The party’s decision to stay away from many of the state occasions backfired on them because such was the spirit of forgiveness, healing and friendliness that permeated them all, they were noticeable by their absence.

Apart from Mayor Browne, the party misread the mood of the country and misjudged the importance of the occasion.

Whatever about the history between our two countries, when the head of state of our neighbours visits a small town in Tipperary, it is only right that the first citizen is there to greet her.

It was another special moment during a very special week and it was wonderful that Tipperary played such a key part in it.