“When The Visit was first announced, I guess most Irish people were a bit surprised that such a high-profile guest would be coming to Dublin. It’s not that they aren’t welcome, but there was a lot of animosity about stuff that happened in the past. Some people will never get past the association with the army and the violence carried out against Irish people, but times change.
“So the anger was relatively muted, with only the dissidents genuinely offended. There was a broad feeling that maybe some good might come of The Visit, that things had really moved on, that they deserved a chance.
“And then, when it took place, it wasn’t that big a deal after all. At the start of The Visit, there was a lot of focus on the past and for a while it looked like we were going to be stuck in 1916. But things loosened up a bit later, especially after the promise of a big party.
“I suppose to them it’s symbolically important, although most people down here I think were pretty indifferent, watching with bemusement as our esteemed guest and their entourage acquainted themselves with how normal life really is in the Republic. I think they liked us; I think they’ll come here again.
“My guess is that this is how most people here felt when Gerry got elected to the Dail.”