Monday 7 November 2011

irish wedding

It is unlike me to wait so long before blogging about a trip, but here it is...

Our friends C&S tied the knot over the August bank holiday in C's native Ireland. Knowing that it would be my last chance to fly before the baby arrives, and our last chance to get away for a while, we decided to make it a mini-break.

We flew to Shannon and rented a car; then drove to our B&B just outside Tipperary in the scenic Glen of Aherlow.




 We spent our first full day exploring the area and taking advantage of the well-signposted walks (between rain showers!)




outstanding in their field



The wedding took place on Saturday in C's hometown of Hospital, near Limerick. Try googling "hospital, limerick" for directions to the church... I promise that what you are looking for will be the last link you'll find. But as it turned out, the route was fairly easy and we found seats with all the cool kids.




Perhaps as could be expected at an Irish Catholic ceremony, there was an emphasis on C&S's new married life together and encouragement to procreate. Inwardly, we wondered what their one-year old daughter thought of being excluded from the references to the joys of future children, but the three of them took it in their stride. Maybe words matter more if you place importance in them. The correct sentiments were there in any case, and C&S couldn't stop smiling - which is all that really matters!

The reception was held at the beautiful Aherlow House Hotel, overlooking the valley.

lucky private moment with the bride and groom

We indulged on scones and jam with tea and coffee while the other guests arrived and the bride and groom mingled. Sitting down to dinner later with nearly 250 other people showed just how happy we all were for C&S, and there were very few dry eyes when the bride's father sang her the loveliest song... (S will have a hard time topping it when their daughter gets married someday!) Gradually tables were moved, the band set up, and the dancing began. I'm sad to report that we didn't last long after midnight, but the party continued until at least 4 AM.

The following morning, we woke up late and had given up the idea of breakfast when the phone rang. Our wonderful Irish hosts would not take no for an answer: 'come down and we'll give you breakfast. Go on, go on, go on...'

We continued exploring the area, heading first to Cashel where we found the local brass band playing (practicing?) in the town square.


We walked up to the famous Rock of Cashel and enjoyed the views from above, although restoration efforts meant that it was not as picturesque as usual.



From there, we proceeded to Cahir Castle. Maybe it was the presence of blue sky, or the absence of scaffolding, but I preferred Cahir Castle to the Rock of Cashel. Fortuitous timing also meant that we got there just in time to join a free tour.





On our final day, we drove back toward Shannon Airport via Cork.



Driving in Ireland was remarkably easy but danger never seemed far away. Big trucks rush down narrow country lanes. Speed limit signs of 100 km/hour are posted just before tight curves (how?! and why?!). The slow lane is for passing...or for parking... And there are signs and reminders everywhere to stay on the left.


I could understand it on our rented car (many tourists come from parts of the world where you drive on the right) but presumably the locals should know? Entering Cork was harrowing, only because we ended up right inside the city centre with no real idea of where to go. Fortunately we were able to park the car and walk around.

After lunch, we got back in the car and drove to Blarney. Here are some facts about Blarney and the Blarney Stone that we hadn't anticipated: they charge 10 euro for the privilege of kissing a (presumably unhygienic) rock that has been kissed by strangers for years...and there's not much else to do in Blarney.


So we went along to Bunratty, (immaturely making fun of the name: 'Bunratty, heh heh') but got there too late to go inside the castle.


All that was left to do was have dinner at the local pub, check in to our hotel, check out a mere 12 hours later, and fly home...

We had a lovely trip. Ireland is comfortingly familiar from both an American and British perspective. Born as a Cassidy, I feel an automatic affinity for the Irish. And now that I live in the UK, Ireland's rolling green hills and full breakfasts are similar, though not the same. Looking forward to our next trip to the Emerald Isle. But maybe Northern Ireland for a change?

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