A sad day for all spectacle wearers.
So today I arrived into work to read the news that Garret Fitzgerald, Ireland’s 7th Taoiseach, had died. Reports surfaced two weeks that he was gravely ill, but the news will still have come as a shock to a lot of people, young and old.
Being brought up into a Fine Gael family and because he became Taoiseach in the year I was born, I’ve always had a real soft spot for him.
To most, Fitzgerald will be remembered as the leader of two Fine Gael governments in the 1980s, a true statesman, an advocate for better relationships between Ireland and the UK and one of the few truly credible blueshirt leaders of the last 40 years.
In recent years he had became one of the highlights of any Irish election or referendum. Whatever the hour of the day he’d invariably end up on TV3’s Vincent Browne program or in the RTE studio putting university economists and political scientists to shame with his succinct, idiot-proof arguments. And when he wasn’t on TV you could find him in the RDS keeping an eye on the latest tallies.
There will be lots of eulogies and tributes paid over the next few days, but I’m going to go slightly left-field and pay homage to his spectacles. Yes. Weird. I know.
There aren’t many people who wore glasses with as much confidence, class and panache as Garret. Some are a bold fashion statement, some emphasise function over form.
From what I can work out (I like to think not many people have spent time thinking about these things…) he started using reading glasses in the late 1970s and then gradually began wearing specs all the time in later life.
Here are 21 highlights from a brilliantly bespectacled career…