I don’t claim to know the game of politics or indeed most of the story.
If you know nothing you can never be wrong.
Garret Fitzgerald celebrating his 75th birthday with his granddaughters.
He was 85 when he died earlier today.
I liked Garret Fitzgerald.
We were having our makeup done, he and I, at the RTE television studios in Dublin. We were about to go on screen for the Irish tv link-up into Live Aid. It’s July 13th 1985 and much of the world is throbbing to Bob Geldof’s initiative. As we sat there being powdered, he leant towards me and chinwagged away with a calm energy and gentle enthusiasm – and whatever revelations were unfurled what remains in my mind is how gentlemanly, how dignified without being pompous, this man was.
Interesting people are people who are interested and he was, wanted to know everything, then slipping in his own slant on it. There was a professorial aura to him as he sat there in his crafted countryish tweed suit, not really paying attention to the notion of being glammed-up for the nation.
This was not some flash gombeen charlatan pumped-up ex-showband manager with words of sugared oil slithering out of his gobshite mouth – but a cultured gentleman on his second term as Ireland’s Taoiseach who doubtlessly had his own more educated weaponry should the occasion demand.
I drive past his house when I’m in Dublin. Well, when I was in Dublin I used to drive past what now used to be his house. And I’d always flash back to that Live Aid day with a smile.
Garret Fitzgerald and I, we went before the television cameras to drum up more money for Live Aid, not together of course although he was certainly more together than I was. An audacious viewer, evidently moved by the spirit of the occasion of raising as much dosh for Live Aid as possible, phoned in and cheekily offered The Toiseach 500 punts for his tie. Garrett unknotted his top-of-the-line necktie, delighted. Then someone phoned in from Limerick, offering to buy my tie – basically, no literally, a bit of purple string – for 500 punts too. Done! Ridiculous and wonderful.
Garrett, now happily open-shirted and looking almost strange because of it… well, not really but you’d notice he hadn’t a tie on, y’know? Garret, he looks at this piece of string in my hands and for an almost-imperceptible moment he closes his eyes and a smile flirts across his face and God knows what he’s thinking but whatever it is, it’s fine. And then someone buys the bass guitar that Phil Lynott has donated. And then we go back upstairs to the room with illuminated mirrors and get our makeup sponged off…
God bless you, Dr Garret Fitzgerald.
February 9th 1926 – May 19th 2011
Rest in peace, sir.
-BPF NYC May 19th 2011