Full of charm and enthusiasm -- it's no wonder we're all smitten
A MERE day-and-a-bit into the royal visit, and already everyone had fallen in love with the queen. "This woman embodies something special," a clearly smitten Eamon Dunphy told Pat Kenny yesterday morning. "Resilient, stoical, dignified," Eamon marvelled, while also revealing that she was "full of life, full of fun -- a wonderful person".
On the same show, Sister Stanislaus Kennedy and musician Micheal O Suilleabhain, were similarly struck by her sprightliness and charm; while a few hours later, on TV3, Eoghan Harris enthused about her "warmth, ease and affability".
Eoghan, resplendent in a dark trilby, was at the wreath-laying ceremony in Islandbridge's war memorial gardens and he felt proud to be part of a Catholic Ireland that had always liked the English and that respected the British monarch -- an Ireland, as he put it, "that prefers Tom Moore's melodies to traditional music and that hasn't got that chippy kind of Ronan O'Gara hands-in-the-pocket republicanism".
The day's television coverage had begun with extended footage of Her Majesty visiting the Guinness headquarters, thus gaining the kind of free global publicity for Diageo for which other breweries would murder their grannies. Host for the occasion was Ryan Tubridy, who gesticulated a lot and introduced himself to the royal couple thus: "Nice to see you, I'm Ryan Tubridy, part-time tour guide, so let's go and see how they brew a pint of Guinness."
Too polite to say what she was probably thinking ("Please go away" would have been a natural response), the queen ensured she was beyond the range of Ryan's flailing arms, then stood patiently as a man duly pulled a pint and placed it in front of her, though if he expected her to take a sip from it he had another think coming.
Ryan then took her up to the rooftop bar, pointed out various Dublin landmarks and gave a running commentary on them. Decades of public engagements and centuries of good breeding stopped her from throwing herself out the window.
After that flagrantly commercial interlude, dignity was restored with visits to Leinster House, Islandbridge and Croke Park, at all of which venues she gave the impression of being genuinely engaged -- thus ensuring that by the end of the day most viewers were as impressed by her as Eamon had been at the beginning.