Local people have been paying tribute to Nelson Mandela after the former President of South Africa and anti-apartheid leader’s death aged 95.
“I met him twice,” said Claire Durkin from Longford town. “The first time was at an event at the South African embassy in 2000. He was having photos taken when he saw me and said, ‘You have lovely red hair. Come here and have a photo taken with me’.
“I met him at another function three years later in connection with the Special Olympics. He had a wonderful presence and was more engaged with the children than with the celebrity guests.
“He had a gentle nature and charm. There was an aura around him and everyone was in awe of him.”
Eddy Lane, a member of Longford’s South African community, added: “He was a great statesman, a forgiving statesman, perhaps even one of the greatest statesmen who has ever lived. He held no grievances.
“While he was in prison the world never forgot him, and the ‘Free Mandela’ movement kept on going.
“He was an exceptional person. He must have had the constitution of an ox to go through what he went through and still reach the age of 95.”