That Darn Queen

Friday, May 13, 2011 Road Junkies 0 Comments

DUBLIN, Ireland — In planning this trip, we tried to be meticulous in checking for calendar events that generate vast crowds and equally large hotel prices.  We made certain we were not in Venice for Carnival.  We avoided Rome at Easter and at the time of the beatification of Pope John Paul II.  And we wouldn't have been caught near London on the day of the royal wedding.

So here we are in Dublin, long after the green beer of St. Patrick's Day dribbled down the drain, away from the royal family and the papacy, thinking we'll have a nice quiet time enjoying this charming city.  Today we rode the LUAS (loo-is) tram downtown from our apartment in the 'burbs to visit Dublin Castle.  When we arrived and asked a security guard where to find the castle entrance, he informed us that the castle is closed in anticipation of "the Queen's visit" next week.  Wait just a doggone minute!  I thought this was the Republic of Ireland, not the part of Ireland still attached to the United Kingdom.

We were allowed to visit the garden-- the part that wasn't covered by the tents workers were erecting for the media who will be reporting on the royal visit.  Visitors could take a look at the castle from the outside, from a distance that was not close enough to leave any unpleasant little gifts for Her Majesty.

Dublin Castle
Seizing the opportunity to chat up one of the guys setting up the media tents, John, we tried to get a sense of how the average Irishman feels about this visit from Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth. 

"So what's up with all this?" we asked.  "Can you enlighten a couple of Americans about why this Irish city is in such an uproar about a visit from the queen?  You guys fought as hard as we did to get rid of her.  What's the deal?"

"Yeah, we did," John agreed.  "It took us a lot longer, too."  Of course, we pointed out that it was a bit easier for us since both distance and the French were on our side.

John acknowledged that not everyone in Ireland was thrilled about Elizabeth's impending arrival and expressed hope that nothing unfortunate occurs while she is here.  "Let's hope she doesn't drive past a book depository," he said, exhibiting that famous Irish black humor.

According to news reports, there do seem to be quite a few Irish who aren't thrilled about this visit from neighbor Elizabeth.  The inconvenience created by road closures, traffic restrictions and exclusion from public places is only part of the problem.  The expenses of this visit are massive for the Irish government, including a huge security force.  The City Council of Cork planned a $400,000 facelift to the city's English Market in anticipation of Elizabeth's brief visit there.  And then there are those who still harbor ill will for past events and  hold political objections to a visit from the British monarch.

So as hard as we tried to steer clear of hoopla, we stumbled into it anyway.  One thing we neglected to ask John but wished we had is, who approved the painting of the back of Dublin Castle in these primary colors.  And why?

Dublin Castle
By the way, later this month the good people of Ireland will have another opportunity to dig deep into their pockets for security costs and step aside to have their lives disrupted again when President Obama visits.