AND so to Gallipoli, for the centenary of the disastrous first World War campaign, in the company of An Uachtarain Michael D Higgins of Ireland.
That’s slightly gilding the poppy, as your correspondent wasn’t in the President’s party, but on the same plane, in steerage rather than the glamour of first-class.
Turkish Airlines are a pleasant carrier, but even the president’s presence didn’t mean we got into the air on time at Dublin.
However that was a minor transport consideration compared to what lay ahead.
It was all right for the Prez, he was limousined into the site of the famous dawn service at Gallipoli, along with Prince Charles of England, Prince Harry, prime ministers Tony Abbott and John Key, from Australia and New Zealand respectively, very early on April 25. They would have arrived a short time before the 5.30 am commencement of a very beautiful and moving tribute to the thousands of Irishmen, Australians and New Zealanders – the Anzacs – who were slaughtered here between April and December 1915.
But for the rest of us, the common herd, it was an arduous journey of many hours, then standing room only on a cramped piece of lawn in the nippy cool of a Turkish April night.
It’s unbecoming to complain about minor physical discomfort when you’re all there to remember loss of promising young life on an appalling scale. Still, as my companion and I travelled around Turkey in the two weeks after April 25, we continually bumped into antipodeans who had also attended the dawn service, and, more arduous, the subsequent individual services to remember the Australian and New Zealand casualties. Read more…