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Saturday 30 September 2023 Dublin: 15°C
7 of the world's most interesting handshakes
From Nixon and Presley to Hitler and Chamberlain right back to Arnold Schwarzenegger, these handshakes deserve to go down in history.


That’s why when important figures in the public eye come together and shake hands, it often means something special.

With that said, the handshake is also an ordinary thing we all do – most of us will shake hands with someone or other every single day. Yet considering we do it so often, a lot of people get it spectacularly wrong.

So, the humble handshake – everyday and extraordinary, good and bad. But always interesting.

1. US and Soviet astronauts shake hands in space

In 1975, two spaceships came together and linked up – for a handshake. The two astronauts, Stafford and Leonev, docked together and exchanged pleasantries as part of an ongoing détente at the time.

Wikimedia Commons Wikimedia Commons

2. Martin McGuinness and Queen Elizabeth II

Martin McGuinness, a former senior figure in the IRA, shook Queen Elizabeth II’s hand last year in Belfast at a Co-Operation Ireland event. A massively symbolic moment for the Northern Irish peace process and relations with Britain.


3. Adolf Hitler and Neville Chamberlain

In 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was sure that the best approach with the Fuhrer was “appeasement”. He declared peace with Germany on his arrival home from negotiations on the Sudetenland, just eight days after this photograph was taken. Unfortunately, he spoke far too soon about Hitler.

Musings from Medway Musings from Medway

4. Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy

Landsdowne Road, September 2001. With Keane in the Irish footballing headlines yet again this week, it remains to be seen if he has thawed since the Saipan incident with Mick McCarthy.

Lorraine O'Sullivan / Inpho Lorraine O'Sullivan / Inpho / Inpho

5. Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev

This handshake marked the first meeting between the US and USSR in six years at the Geneva Summit. This ended with them both signing an agreement that they would each reduce their nuclear arsenals.

WikimediaCommons WikimediaCommons

6. Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley

Can’t believe your eyes? Well, it’s true. Presley met Nixon in the Oval Office in 1970. “I’m on your side,” he told Nixon. Then the singer reportedly asked the President if he could have a federal badge from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

It might not have gone down in history, but it’s certainly a turn up for the books.


7. Movie moments

And what about the handshake from Predator? Not billed as “the most epic movie handshake of all time” for nothing. Here are Dillon and Dutch duking it out.

Or, on a lighter note, this one from Homer and Barney:

Do you have a secret handshake? And what’s the one thing you hate most about getting a bad handshake? You can tell a lot from a person’s handshake, or so they say… 

Shaking on a deal can change everything. Find out by watching Díol É – TG4′s new show about striking deals, selling your old tat and getting lucky – every Tuesday at 8pm.  Could your next handshake over a deal go down in history?

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