Just thought I would check in and report on how it’s going on the other side of the world on this momentous day. And I just LOVE this “Prairie-Dog Rapture” pic! Well, so far so good… unless you are a fundie, I guess. No sign of any earthquakes or bodies being mysteriously sucked up into the sky. Yet. There’s still two hours to go ‘til the official kick-off time so you never know, it might happen, but reports from the expanses of the planet that have already hit that 6pm deadline report nothing unusual. Oh, wait, there WERE a couple of earthquakes in the Pacific, but they were small (3-4 on the Richter scale, surely not God bothering size?) and apparently there tends to be a small earthquake somewhere in the Pacific every day anyway.
I am in Ireland at the moment and interestingly (for such a predominantly Catholic country) no one seems too fussed by this whole rapture malarky. Maybe the populace have had other things to think about. This week has seen a royal visit by Queen Elizabeth, the first visit to this isle of a British monarch since Ireland fought for, and won, independence way back in 1922. Now THAT is a momentous occasion. People who would normally be described as “patriots” and who within their own lifetimes have seen periods of real animosity against the British were seen cooing and ahhing at the British monarch’s presence. There were protests, of course, but the turnouts were small, estimated at around the 200 mark. This is what they looked like from the inside:
By all accounts the visit was a roaring success. Liz had a tour of ghostly Dublin, where roads were blocked off to keep people away from her highness. She was brought to Croke Park, the 80,000+ capacity sports arena that has a very special significance in the history of Irish nationalism. Bought by the Gaelic Athletics Association in 1913, it was used to encourage the playing of indigenous sports hurling and Gaelic football (at a time when the country was under strict British rule) and was seen as a hotbed of anti-British conspiracy by the then powers-that-be. It was at Croke Park that the infamous original Bloody Sunday occurred in 1921 when, in retaliation for a number of assassinations by the IRA, the British army and the Royal Irish Constabulary indiscriminately shot into the crowd during a Dublin-Tipperary football match killing 13 spectators and the Tipperary football captain. It was this incident that turned the tide of the war of independence against the British and ultimately led to the withdrawal of British troops from most of the island. The fact that the Queen visited this specific arena says a lot about how far relations between the Irish and the English have come in the resulting ninety years.
Her Madge also stopped off at the Coolmore Stud, the world’s largest breeding centre for thoroughbred horses, and in Cork city made a visit to its famous English Market. That bit was of particular significance to me, as my mother’s family have had a fruit and vegetable stall there for over 100 years. The English Market is a beautiful, hidden treasure in the vastly under-rated city (Cork is MUCH nicer than Dublin!) and could dearly use a boost in visits and trade in this era of multinationalization.
The English Market - the white haired man is my uncle.
Even more excitingly though, for me and a lot of people other people anyway, on Monday we will be being graced by a visit from President of the United States and the First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama. It’s only a flying visit really, as he is on his way to the UK for 4 days, but while here he will be travelling to County Offaly to look up some of his ancestors, and giving a public address on College Green in Dublin city centre. I expect the turn out for this to be very strong, and even though there will be a stepped up security presence, I really don’t think he has anything to worry about. In fact I think he will be greeted by a very warm Irish welcome, something that eluded President Bush a few years back. I won’t be here then, unfortunately, but the Irish media will be supplying day-long rolling coverage of his visit if you are interested in watching. I expect there to be protests too, but they will most likely be Queen-sized.
Anyway, so where was I… oh yes! The Rapture. Hmm, well there’s still a bit of time to kill before believers get hoovered up (or not). If there is any breaking news on this side of the pond I will dutifully report it. Or I might not actually, preferring to spend that time with my family. But for some reason or other all day I just haven’t been able to get this bloody song out of my mind. Any ideas why? Answers in a comment to the usual address…