Longford journalist tells of ‘surreal’ atmosphere in Paris

John Greene pictured with his daughter Eleanor at Dublin airport on Friday morning before heading to Disneyland Paris.
A well-known Longford journalist found himself caught up in the massive security alert following the series of deadly terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday evening last.

A well-known Longford journalist found himself caught up in the massive security alert following the series of deadly terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday evening last.

John Greene, a native of Ferefad currently based in Dublin, where he works as Sports Editor with the Sunday Independent, had arrived at Disneyland Paris with his daughter earlier that day and was enjoying a show at the resort when the tragic news filtered through.

“We were on a media trip along with other journalists from Ireland and the UK and an event had been organised to welcome us,” he explained. “It was 45 minutes after the attacks happened when I found out. The first text I got was from my sister Claire, asking ‘Are you OK... with all the bombs?’.

“I didn’t know how to react, so we just went back to the hotel. With kids around, I didn’t want to turn on the TV, so I was following it all on Twitter.”

Describing the atmosphere as “very surreal”, Mr Greene said “most of the people were there with their families; they were walking around, looking at their phones and trying to protect their children from hearing about it.

“I felt numb, but didn’t feel we were in danger where we were.”

After a sleepless night, Mr Greene received a text from the staff at Disneyland Paris early on Saturday morning informing him that the theme park was closed for the day.

“I spoke to a few Irish people there and they couldn’t wait to get away,” he reavealed. “Disney offered to put us on a Eurostar to London but we didn’t take them up on it because I didn’t feel confident about it, so I decided we were safer where we were.

“Soldiers were deployed in the area, focusing around the train station at the park. Our hotel was near the perimeter and we could hear sirens now and again. It was a strange feeling.

“I can’t say enough about the Disney team, though. They were great. There was no sense of panic or fear with them.”

Mr Greene and his daughter eventually flew home from Charles de Gaulle airport on Sunday evening.

“We were told there were huge delays at the airport but we got through check-in and security within an hour. It was as if the French were going out of their way to prevent panic; everyone was very polite and friendly.

“It was only when we were on the plane and the doors closed that it all hit me.”