This week started for me with a trip down memory lane. I went to Marlay Park to watch, listen to and embrace Queen. Now, given that the last time I saw them live was in 1986, this was a very different gig. No Freddie Mercury, but I have to say Adam Lambert did his own thing and I was very impressed. Brian May was magic, called out for those who had been to Slane and remembered Rory Gallagher. Slane had been manic and wet, this was literally a walk in the park, but then on Sunday the sun was shining and I had no responsibilities.
By Wednesday I had one of Queen’s greatest hits on my mind. “We are the Champions”, and oh how those champions came crashing to the ground. Now, unlike a good many of my friends and family, I am not a devoted football fan, but I sure as hell was going to watch the semi-final of the World Cup between England and Croatia. I was right behind England, because apart from anything else I feel that the Brits need a bit of a boost at the moment. In truth other sensibilities are also at play. England’s captain Harry Kane has some close relatives in Letterfrack. His grandfather emigrated to London in the fifties. Maybe Harry could play for Ireland if he so wished.
There are innumerable examples of such links between our two nations. Despite being born in Dublin I hold dual citizenship. I know many people who are as proud of their Irish roots as they are of those that they hold in the U.K. As I have often said in the past, the Irish nation is a “sea fed by many streams”. When I show groups around the Castle I derive great enjoyment by saying that some of England’s greatest Englishmen in the nineteenth century weren’t Englishmen at all. They were Irish. The most obvious being the Duke of Wellington, victor of Waterloo, who was born in County Meath.
We should perhaps keep all of this in mind when we watch how our government deals with Brexit over the coming months for after all not only is the U.K. our most important trading partner but it is also our land bridge to Europe. Our two countries are intrinsically linked and a No Deal Brexit would be an absolute disaster for the Republic. Theresa May’s government have now produced a 98 page White Paper on the subject and the Taoiseach has said he will study it over the weekend and react to it next week. He should keep in mind what is at stake here and remember more than anything else that it is his solemn duty to act in the national interest. Perhaps he might also keep in mind that Brussels has not hesitated in the past to screw us in what they deem to be the wider European interest. In this instance maybe it should be Ireland first.