David Robbins: Dr Johnson might not agree, but I relished that warm glow of patriotism
The President was due any minute now. Outside, the town band was waiting. A couple of gardai were on standby. A lone piper stood on a traffic island. The town square in Listowel was bathed in late evening sunshine. "We're poxed with the weather," someone said.
There was a good-natured unruliness about it that was quintessentially Irish. It could have been any town, or indeed any president, from Douglas Hyde onwards. The scene has hardly changed in almost a century.
Inside the hall, there was a kind of relaxed mayhem. We were asked to stand for President Higgins's arrival, and again for his departure. A harpist played, a singer sang, and sang again when the President was delayed. The old rhythms, and the old lyrics, had power yet.