Monday, February 26, 2007
I spent saturday in an open air cathedral and was part of a redemptive act that gives me hope. The holy ground in question was Croke Park - headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association an arena where one morning in 1920 in revenge for the murder of 14 british agents that morning by the IRA , crown forces shot into the crowd at the match between Dublin and Tipperary , killing 13 spectators and one of the players.
On saturday Ireland played England at rugby and there was much media hype about the fact that God Save the Queen would be sung for the first time at the temple of an organisation set up in the late 19th century to oppose british rule. Trouble was predicted but instead we had Grace.
The day turned out better than expected - I scribbled this in my notebook .......... “ What a day - atmosphere electric , england come onto the pitch to a standing ovation . Moved to tears by the anthems , the respect for God save the Queen ..... received with dignity and given a huge round of applause .....then it felt like the stadium as one singing Irelands call. The roar when the match kicked off -an atmosphere like nothing i have ever experienced ... surrounded by friends and feeling an Irishness which included britishness and a britishness which included my irishness. It is suddenly holy ground as a nation comes of age.
A sporting holy communion with the right result on the pitch and off it - stunning rugby - a day to tell the grandchildren about - in future half the island will claim to have been there. But for those that were it was glorious - a team playhing to their potential but also a nation rising to the challenge of the hour ...showing that things had moved on and we can acknowledge the wrong of the past but not be bound by it ....we can move on ....we can be healed ....
The future is bright and not just orange ......our children and grandchildren will share this island north and south and today was another step towards that shared future . I walked away from Croke Park , hoarse and emotionally exhausted but after today I look towards our future more in hope than fear.