Dear Parents of Ireland,
You should be proud. Very proud. Proud of your sons and daughters.
I am a son of Ireland and I have just spent two weeks in the company of a traveling band of my brothers and sisters, called “The Green Army”. We came in battalions, by land, air and sea, and descended upon France. We were armed with flags. We wore our uniforms. And we conquered all in front of us.
The people of Paris were first to see your children. Having witnessed the shameful violence in the pitched battles of the streets of Marseille, the inhabitants of the City of Love would have been well within their rights to be fearful of a bunch of fanatics rolling up to their bars and cafes. Quickly, though, their fears were allayed.
Your Irish sons and daughters seduced the public of Paris, France and Europe by spreading an inordinately large amount of something pure and simple and special around the place. It was obvious to see for all of us out there but, if you were watching from a distance, there’s something that no video, tweet or Snapchat could convey. You simply had to be there to sense it. That something was love and, as we all know, it’s only love if it works both ways.
We felt it in Bordeaux, in Lille and in Lyon. L’amour was free-flowing between us and the French in all these cities. But, in Paris, it felt the most special.
Paris is the City of Light but it has been home to darkness and terrible, terrifying hate in recent times. Even as our game against the Swedes was taking place, a hideous murder wounded the city again.
I am not naive enough to think that the presence of your sons and daughters will repair the damage that Paris has suffered but I witnessed enough and talked to enough Parisians to tell you this; the attitude and behaviour and the love of the Irish and the atmosphere that we created has definitely helped Paris on its road to recovery.
One of the evenings I spent in Paris, I sat and chatted with a man whose family has lived in the Montmartre for generations. He had tears in his eyes as he told me about how much joy had been returned to the streets surrounding his apartment with the arrival of your sons and daughters.
The singing went on into the small hours. The drinking was excessive (two Irish bars ran out of beer – twice!). But the friendliness, warmth and inclusivity of our army of fans disarmed a city, which was armed to the teeth with machine guns and pistols, ready for the worst. When you watch the videos of armed police in riot gear, crouching down for the Boys in Green, try to understand how much love and trust it takes for them to do that.
Paris will endure. Paris will treat its wounds. Paris will light up with love, as the Eiffel Tower does every night. But be aware that, amongst the “craic” and headlines about singing to nuns and changing tyres for elderly couples, the sons and daughters of the parents of Ireland, who traveled in their thousands to support their beloved team, brought more love to the city than anyone dreamed possible.
The taxi drivers, the waiters, the bakery owners and the regular people, who all smiled and waved and beeped their horns at every green shirt, didn’t do the same for every nation. They love us. They love your children. That love can only exist because of the love we sent out.
Be proud, parents of Ireland. Your children are a credit to you.
I am David Zachary John Moore. I am married to Tracy (who used to be Velcro Girl on 2Phat). We have four kids: Andrew and Samuel and Nina and Anna, the babies, are twins. We have a dog called Lorna, a lurcher we rescued in 2005. She can leap a nine-foot wall in one go. I am tired.