The Queen's Visit

I have to admit that when I first heard that Queen Elizabeth was visiting our country I wasn't really that bothered one way or another. I was a bit more interested in the US Presidential visit which follows in a few days time, given the unexpected enjoyment and boost we recieved when the charismatic Bill Clinton visited our shores some years ago.

You see us Irish are a funny nation. We can be a nation of begrudgers, at times, and we don't really like visting heads of state coming here to tell us how we should run our country. That's perhaps the reason why  Mr Jazzy showed absolutely no interest in the Queen's Visit. That and his distinct dislike for anything that could be considered to be tugging the forelock.

So I wasn't too bothered until she arrived here and then  I slowly became more interested with each passing day.

I was chuffed for a certain little Panto dancer of mine who presented the Queen with a bouquet of flowers on her arrival! Well done R...what a memory to have in later life.

This was a huge, historic visit fraught with potential disasters and multiple faux-pas. Some Irish would never acknowledge the sovreignity of the Queen and indeed there were numerous protests around our capital city. I say 'around' beacause due to intense Garda presence they couldn't get any closer. More about that later.

There is a lot of history between our two nations and most of it not good. Although it is almost 100 years since we declared our Independance it is not that long ago since the Good Friday Agreement was signed. WiiBoy was curious about this and thought that this was not a good time for the Queen to visit. He's not alone in this thought.

They still own some of our country mum, he said.

Yes, yes they do said I

Well, they should give it back first. he replied, with all the authority and innocence of an 11 year old boy!

I tried to explain that some English people live there too.They've lived there for generations and consider Northern Ireland to be part of the UK. We can't just throw them out now, can we? Besides, we can't afford them right now, I thought silently to myself! He thought about what I said but didn't reply . Food for thought no doubt. Whatever any generation feels about the English rule and oppression of the past we have to start the next generation off on a more inclusive footing, I believe. And besides, as Mr Jazzy says, Brian Cowen and his Fianna Fail government have done more to ruin this country  over the last 20 years than the Brits ever did in 700. He has a point...

It was a difficult visit for some Irish people to accept on our shores but I believe it was also a difficult one for the Queen herself. She is an 85 year old lady whom, with her 90 year old husband, had a punishing 4 day schedule which included some astonishing visits to some nationalist memorial  sites.

I watched with avid interest as the Queen of England set foot in Dublin's sacrosanct Garden of Remembrance , a garden that commerates Irish people who have died over the centuries fighting the British for the freedom and Independance we enjoy today. An incredible sight to see her there, respectfully laying a wreath in their memory. A huge, significant moment for which I personally admire her.

She also visited the Irish National War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge where both she and our President lay wreaths in memory of 50,000 Irish men who had died fighting for the Crown in the First World War.

She visited Croke Park, our  hallowed  national sports grounds steeped in  history. This is the site of the original Bloody Sunday, where 14 civilians were shot dead by British forces in 1920. It took incredible strength of spirit and courage  on all sides for this truly historic visit to take place. I have great admiration for all involved and it shows how far both our countries have moved on.

At this stage I was biting at the bit to hear The Queen's Speech. What would she say? Would she be pompous and go around the houses without saying anything of importance? As it happens I missed it but I have seen it on news sites and read a transcript. She had me (and most of the nation) in the palm of her hands with her first 5 words.... in perfectly pronounced Gaeilge. A Uactharain, agus a chairde.... (President and friends) she said. Wow, our President was overheard saying at the first 2 words then Wow again at the last. It was a warm, meaningful and carefully worded speech  which was warmly received.

As I've said earlier this visit was not warmly received by all and there were a number of protests  in Dublin, preceedeed by numerous bomb alerts. Everyone has the right to protest and and to their opinions. I uphold those rights but I abhor those who protest simply to cause trouble. They are no less than thugs in my opinion and they do not represent me or most of this nation. Some threw firecrackers and barriers at the Gardai. The amoeba brain-celled amongst them were even  wearing the jersey of the UK FOOTBALL TEAM they support as they protested against a visit by the English Monarchy! The irony of the situation totally bypassing them

Unfortunately, while we were treated to such amazing images of the visits I describe above some countries were  shown scenes of angry protesters. I am annoyed about that and I do hope that the international media gave a fair representation of this hugely successful visit and took into account that the protestors were in the minority.

This visit cost this financially broke and struggling nation of ours a fortune and I'd hate to think that the actions of the relative few would hinder the potential economic rewards for us all. There are some who believe this visit shouldn't have happened because of the cost. I like to think it was worth it as it puts us firmly and positively on the World's Stage at a crucial time for us economically. 

Ireland  has never looked better in the amazing images I witnessed this week. I only hope that those of you living outside Ireland saw at least some of them.

I hope you saw some of what I describe above.

I hope you saw the amazingly warm, standing ovation she received after the concert at The National Conference Centre last night. It was beaming smiles all round! She seemed to thoroughly enjoy the occasion and the warm, affectionate response that she received.

I hope you saw the amazing and very natural reception she recieved from the people of Cork today when she had her one and only impromtu walk-about amongst the people who were allowed to gather to see her.

Well done to all involved in making this visit such a have done your country a great service. In particular I comment the Gardai and the Defence Forces. You did a fantastic job.

Yes, Ireland did indeed look very well this week and I hope it translates in economic terms. We have amazing sights and are steeped in history. I'm so impressed I'm going to take WiiBoy on a tour of Dublin this forthcoming  summer holidays ... and I live here!

It was an incredible week for Ireland which started with Jedward's amazing performance in last Saturday's Eurovision (we were robbed,  I tell ya, robbed!), followed by The Queen's Visit and will end with the State Funeral of a lovely statesman and ex-senior politician Garret Fitzgerald ,who poignantly passed away the morning after the Queen gave her speech, and another state visit by the US President Barack Obama on Monday. He will no doubt also receive a huge Ceid Mile Failte when he arrives.


Jedward Mania

 'I'm John, he's Edward and together we're Jedward

That's the introductory line for Ireland's latest craze , Jedward. The be-quiffed duo that we have just unleashed on an  unsuspecting Europe for Eurovision 2011. Let's just call it Pay-Back for Bail-Out... or Just Desserts :-) This introductory line is delivered at warp speed . Much faster than I can type, or any interpreter could possibly interpret. God help them is all I'll say!

Since they hit our TV screens in XFactor 2009, Jedward have made a name for themselves. Whether that is a good or a  bad thing is largely irrelevant. Everyone in Ireland and the UK know who they are and besides, as the saying goes, there's no such thing as bad publicity. That's a lie, there is!

Who can ever forget, no matter how hard we try, those XFactor performances? Oh, the hilarity! How we laughed! At home, at work and  at play on Social Media sites etc! And how some people cruelly mocked them. They are only young lads but they did put themselves out there at the public's mercy and the public, frustrated as they were at the good acts who were displaced by them week after week, showed them no mercy at all.

Some said that this duo, as that old ad goes, 'can't sing, look awful and will go a long way.' In reality they really can't sing, they look quite good actually and they are indeed going places!They prance dance about the stage with boundless energy and they give interviews where they are hyper and talk incessantly over each other with  an affected faux American accent. They are incredibly, irritatingly, annoyingly...... addictive!

Mock as you will but can anyone remember who actually won  XFactor in 2009? It was Joe McElderry. Where is he now? Is he out there performing,  entertaining? He is indeed, per his website but it seems very low key to me. Meanwhile The bould Jedward are out there working their asses off with  ahem  their own unique style of entertainment!

They've had TV appearances on The Late Late Show plus their unforgettable appeance on Vincent Browne's very first Friday Late Show. For foreign readers the former is a weekly chat show and the latter is a lighter by-product of a 5 nightly Current Affairs programme! We all laughed so much when we heard they were to be one of his first guests! What is he thinking? I'm sure he wondered too...after the event. It was absolutely hilarious. Best TV ever... especially when watched via the twitter stream! Very entertaining as they tripped up over questions and started throwing cushions at their bewildered host....cue ad break! It may have been entertaining for all the wrong reasons but it was entertaining. In fact it was by far the most entertaining episode of that show to date, in my opinion.

They talked about their preparations for the Eurovision and trotted out their usual lines of how they're gonna stay focused and it'll be amazing and awesome  .....groan! They also said that were going to drink water, eat fruit, go to bed early and give loads of interviews. They always make time for their fans too. Irritating? Annoying? Or perhaps ..... surprisingly  good role models for teens to aspire to? There are worse they could emulate, you know ;-)

They are well ensconced in Dusseldorf now and are busy with rehearsals and giving interviews in preparation for their Eurovision performance this week. Thier first interview was in Russian... like I say, God help the interpreters! There is some relef for the beleagured interpreters though as it is reported that Jedward have been banned from speaking due to John's vocal issues.

I watched a video of one of their interviews, all 20 minutes of it... for research purposes only, doncha know. Initially it's hard to know who's hosting the interview as they have total control. They're bright eyed and bushy tailed, polite, obliging and funny. Well, everyone's laughing anyway. At them or with them, it's hard to tell! They conclude by very obligingly giving an unaccompanied rendition of their Eurovision entry song. All of it! And yeah... I did say unaccompanied! Eeek...

When their song was initially chosen to represent us it was greeted with the usual mixture of euphoria by the few versus incredulity and annoyance by many.

My first tweet on the event read:  We once sent one Turkey to represent us, now we're sending two!

We may laugh and mock them all we like but I am seeing Jedward in another light these days. These two 'Turkeys'  are two very astute young men who are genuinely focused on their goals (all that Athletic Training and competetive edge coming into play) and are no doubt laughing right back at us.... all the way to the bank. At least, I hope they are! They are no doubt taking Europe by storm!

Ireland has won The Eurovision 7 times but due to bloc voting we will never win again. We could strip naked, perform amazing dance routines or (as Mr Jazzy says) dig Elvis Presley himself up and it would make absolutely no difference! The only chance we have is to annually, enmasse, take a weekend break in specific European countries at Eurovision time and vote from there! Perhaps this year Ireland's emigration woes, together with last year's  voting changes, may have a positive impact!

Is winning Eurovision a positive thing though? Who in Europe, apart from our emigrees, will vote for poor beleagured Ireland? Or maybe allowing us to win would be Europe's revenge on us for sending them Jedward! They could gleefully rub their hands thinking of another over-charged bail-out they could force upon us to help us host next year's extravaganza!

If internet searches are anything to go by then by this report they could be favourite to win. Elsewhere there are a lot of conflicting reports and the reported favourites change! I haven't seen any other acts as I'm waiting for the semi-finals.

First things first, Jedward have to get through to the Final on Saturday 14th May and  after checking out a video of their second Eurovision rehearsal it's evident that they have some way to go vocally!  Bad pitch...bad! I do hope they get it together for Thursday's semi-Final.  Boys, just perform it like you did for Euro-Song. You got away with that That worked. Let the backing singers take over support you when needed and throw your usual energy into it. Whatever you do stay together on the lyrics and STAY IN TUNE. The last bit's important, this is a SONG Contest after all ;-)

Oh,  I love the spectacle, cheesiness and downright clutziness Of Eurovision!  I'll be tuned in watching, laughing and enjoying. We're a strange nation you know, us Irish.  We're a nation of begrudgers, so they say. No matter what though, we're Irish and I reckon there'll be lots of us secretly flying the flag and hoping they do well, whilst slagging them off on twitter etc. You know I'm right!

Jedward will perform (note I didn't say sing!) their entry 'Lipstick' in this Thursday's semi-final. Here it is and I warn you................

It is incredibly, irritatingly, annoyingly...... addictive and you won't be able to get it out of your head. For days!! A sign of a true Eurovision song!


I look forward to the Semi Final and to Saturday's final. I do hope they  get through. The competition will be all the more entertaining because of them!

And when all is said and done, that's what it's ALL about..... ENTERTAINMENT!


(I can't believe I just said that!!)

See you on the twitter machine and on facebook. Where the real entaertainment will be :-)


A Jazzy Easter Part 4: Final Chapter

A two week school holiday is an unmercifully loooonnngg break and yet I can't believe that it has  now come to an end. We have filled the past fortnight with fun activities, laughter, tears, frustrations.... but mainly fun as you can tell from my previous posts. Besides, looking back on a long school holiday is infinitely more appealing than dreading looking forward to it!

We had a lovely weekend, spent with family, to bring this break to it's conclusion.

Saturday was my mam's birthday so we had a small family barbecue to help her celebrate. The weather in Ireland has been unseasonably warm this April, in fact I hear that it's the driest April since records began, so an outdoor celebration was possible. However this Saturday morning saw some very dark clouds come our way. We had everything prepared and laid out in waiting for our special guest of honour.

And then some wet stuff fell from the sky. Rain, I think it's called. Rain? Now? Nooooo....please sun, come back and shine for us, we begged! As the morning went on, bit by bit the sun fought a brave battle to shine through. At times it was winning but then the rain fought to retain it's... eh, reign (sorry, couldn't resist!) but the sun determinedly shone through the raindrops.

Thankfully, as soon as the guests arrived the sun won it's battle and we had a glorious afternoon.

My mam sat outside, holding court with her surrounding family and herself and her sister regaled us with tales of beaus and belles of bygone days ;-) It was very funny but my lips are sealed! Uh uh.... no way will I reveal their secrets here!

There was of course a birthday cake, with just one candle. The number one.... I told her it was for No 1 Mum. It was, but it was also one half of WiiBoy's 11th birthday candle!! Shhh...don't tell!

Sure she enjoyed it and had some help in blowing out her candle

                                                           Happy Birthday Mam

It was a lovely relaxing afternoon and we ended it with a memorial mass in our local church for my dad's 10th anniversary which was on April 26th. That also went well and the elderly priest, a funny man, made a fuss of her which she loved. She put him in his place though when he asked what age she was! Very funny!

Sunday and today was spent visiting Granddad and other family members for an overnight stay. Another (small) barbecue, lunch out today, play with Daisy the dog and a visit to the new playground in Rathdrum brought this weekend to a happy end.

So now the fun is finally over. A tired WiiBoy has been dragged off his Xbox and is now in bed at the earliest time in 14 nights, in readiness for going back to school tomorrow! (Whoop....*Jazzy secretly does a happy dance*!!)

Wow, back to what is the last term of this school year. How on earth has that happened? Hard to believe how quickly time has gone.

The next big school break is the Summer Holidays.

Eight weeks long...