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The Hand That Shook The Hand

 

Below is the letter by Dick Hall which was published in the Clare Champion.

Dick Hall

 

I was most fortunate to be able to accompany my wife when she attended the 25th anniversary of Clarecare at the Auburn Lodge Hotel on October 29. As a Clare carer, Maureen attended in her official capacity whereas I, a mere man, went along as her personal chauffeur and possible photographer.

 

The honoured special guest at this function was the President of Ireland Mary McAleese. I had only ever seen the President on television or read about her in the newspapers, and hoped that by accompanying my wife I might, if I were lucky, catch a quick glimpse of her in passing, and if I were really blessed with good fortune I might even manage a photograph or two!

 

I could not have planned all that was to happen. Having taken some photographs of the President. I stood and listened to her address the many members of Clarecare. She related two humourous stories from her life that had everyone in the hall laughing and then applauding her for her frankness and her desire to share a part of her past life with all strangers.

 

When Mary McAleese first entered the hall we were all, or most of us anyway, strangers. She spoke to us as if we were long time friends, schoolmates who had grown up together but had somehow separated along the way. Her smile, wide and warm, was inviting to everyone in the hall and I, one of only a handful of men in attendance, realised that in this lady we had a president who could not only succeed her predecessor, but would, in fact, exceed all the achievements President Mary Robinson accomplished. I then stood in line hoping for the opportunity to shake the hand of our own First Lady. I did not have long to wait.

 

As the President approached, I stretched out my right arm, my hand open ready to receive her right hand in mine. She halted directly in front of my position, reached towards me and took my proffered hand in hers and held it in a firm yet warm grasp. I looked her straight in the eye and said: "Your Excellency, I thank you most sincerely for coming to visit us today and for giving of your time to share some memories with us. I consider this day to he a highlight in my life and I consider it a great honour to meet you in person and to shake your hand. I place this day along-side the day when I met and spent some time with John Lennon and shook his hand also".

 

The President held tighter onto my hand and said to me: "You have met and shook hands with John Lennon? Then I consider it to be a great honour and privilege to shake the hand that shook the hand of John Lennon".

 

If I had written it on a card and held it up for her to read it out as if reading from a cue card, she would not have said it with the same sincerity. It really made my day and it was not only the icing on the cake for me, it was the icing, the cake, the whole kit and caboodle.

 

I let go of her hand and she moved on to the next person, but the friendship and warmth of her handshake remained with me for quite some time.

 

In future, when I see our President on television, the memory of that day will return; and I will relive those few minutes again hear her speak those words of how proud she, the President of Ireland was, to shake my hand, because in doing so she would, in a small way be shaking the hand of John Lennon.

 

She more than made my day.

Richard Hall

 

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The Hand that shook the Hand

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