Longford woman in Paris: ‘I do feel fortunate and I feel safe’

Sinead Farrell

Reporter:

Sinead Farrell

Ellen Madden (centre) pictured with friends at the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
On Friday night, Ellen Madden from Longford Town, who has been living in Paris for over a year, was preparing to head out for the night with friends.

On Friday night, Ellen Madden from Longford Town, who has been living in Paris for over a year, was preparing to head out for the night with friends.

They were just about to leave when a message came through, informing them of the horror that was unfolding in the French capital.

Ellen explains: “We got a message saying that 10 people had been killed in the 11th district. We thought that it was awful news to hear but we were heading to the other side of the city so we thought we would be ok.”

But as the 23-year-old began her journey into the city, updates of the death toll and worried enquiries from home started pouring in. Ellen quickly realised that something was wrong.

“First there were 10 people dead, then it was 30, then it was 60 and it just kept getting higher. One of our friends knew people in the (Bataclan) concert hall so they decided to go home and try to figure out what was happening.”

At the time of Charlie Hebdo attacks in January, Ellen, who was working at the time could not respond to the influx of messages from home. But on Friday night, she availed of the safety check-in feature on Facebook and quickly called her mother Deirdre.

“I threw it up on Facebook and called my mother straight away. My father (Charles) was away in Cork at the time so he was getting messages to see if I was okay. It’s crazy, the amount of people who got in touch with me,” she says.

Some of the violence took place in the Rue de Charonne district on Friday night, a place where Ellen had visited earlier that morning. The English language assistant says she could easily have decided to go there again later that evening.

“Where I live is quite central and about 15 minutes from where everything was happening. It could have been anybody. It could have been any football stadium, any restaurant or any concert hall.

“This wasn’t just people targeting a satirical magazine like with Charlie Hebdo.”

Although there is a growing sense of calm returning to Paris, there were a few false alarms over the weekend, one of which occurred around the time Ellen was attending a memorial service in Notre Dame.

But in spite of the tragic events, Ellen feels confident that normality will resume and she can continue living a peacefully in Paris.

“I didn’t witness any of the attacks but I do feel fortunate and I feel safe.

“There were blue skies yesterday and everyone was up and about.

“Myself and my friends just decided to go out and make the best of it.”