Last week on Friday the 13th, myself and family friends sprawled ourselves across the couch to watch a movie. Before we pressed play someone commented, while frowning at their phone, that there had been a bombing in Paris. We didn’t know it at the time but that was only a tiny proportion of what was to happen in Paris that night.
You know how people can seem to remember where there were or what they were doing when a historical event happened?
Like they can recall that they were making dinner when news of 9/11 came on the television, or that they were drying their hair when they heard Michael Jackson passed away.
I’ll always remember where I was when 130 people were killed and 368 were injured in one of the most landmark cities of the world.
I went to bed glued to my phone. I was checking Twitter updates and seeing the hash tag #PorteOuverte (open door) trending. I scrolled through live news feeds watching the death toll increase and I saw with relief that my French friend, who is studying in Paris had ‘checked herself safe’ on Facebook.
The next morning when I woke up, I repeated the process to see what had happened while I was asleep. I noticed on Facebook that an event page had been created for a solidarity march for the people of France to be held in Dublin that day.
I grabbed my things and headed into town.
The pathway of the Spire on O’Connell was full of people. Around two o’ clock the march began and I joined the crowds.
Gardaí were on hand to close off the streets. It was a surreal moment to have been living in Dublin for the past three months and to walk along the streets, all buses, taxis, cyclists and cars being made come to a halt. The noise level was reduced massively until it felt like I was back in my home town. People on streets stopped their shopping to watch silently as we walked by, LUAS construction workers stopped what they were doing to show respect. It felt like Dublin had come together for this moment, we were the city We eventually came to a stop near the Dáil and the crowd started to sing La Marseillaise, the French national anthem.
After the singing stopped, a short speech was given to the crowd. Afterwards people began to slowly disperse, but as a journalist student I felt the need to stay and find out more.
I began talking to to Juliette Charton a French student studying in Griffith College, who organised the march. She told me she arranged the Facebook page because she wanted to show support for her country. She woke up the next morning from a call from the Irish Embassy saying they wanted to help her organise the march and get Garda assistance … as 6,000 people were expected to show up. She told me she never expected this kind of reaction but she felt unbelievably grateful.
What happened in Paris is shocking. It was only ten months ago that I wrote a blog about the killings in Charlie Hedbo. What is even more sad is that it hasn’t ended, the story is still ongoing and uncertain. I’ll never understand how people can take the lives of others so effortlessly.
In times like this a quote from Markus Zusak novel, ‘The Book Thief’ comes to mind.
“I guess humans like to watch a little destruction. Sandcastles, house of cards, that’s where they begin.”
Pray for Paris, Pray for the world.