Tuesday 23 October 2018

Her head bowed and 'the whole of Ireland missed a heartbeat'

A visit fraught with diplomatic and political landmines was turned into a triumph, writes John McEntee

Growing up in the Sixties in an Irish border town, the oldest of seven children, we had a sweet maid called Rosaleen whose father was obliged to emigrate to London and send money home to support his family.

On the nights she babysat and the BBC TV coverage on our 19-inch Bush television concluded with God Save the Queen and images of the Queen on horseback saluting her troops, she would dash from her seat and switch off the television. "Bloody Queen of England," she would spout to us infants. "I hate her."

When my mother inevitably heard about this, she didn't chastise a valuable asset, merely declaring: "Rosaleen and her family hate the English crown but they do love the half-crown," referring to the sterling currency of the time.

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