….or have done,
and hope to again!

The Irish Wedding. It’s a “thing” and I experienced my first on New Year’s Day! (which, with no disrespect to the happy couple, is a most inconvenient day to have a wedding. SLEEP PEOPLE! it’s important after New Year’s Eve)

We woke at 7:30am to pack, dress, collect a work colleague, and make the drive to Kilkenny. The wedding mass was at 1:30pm and we were hoping for some soup before the shindig. For those who don’t know, Ireland is Catholic. It’s not that everyone is a practicing Catholic, but it seems so interwoven with the national identity that even Himself says he was “born” Catholic. I wasn’t reared in this tradition, so I enjoy these sociological perspectives.

The wedding mass was held in a small church in the bride’s home village. It was enchanting. Pale blue walls, effigies of saints, a massive statue of the Lady (how I love her). Everyone was dressed impeccably. The woman singing had an angelic voice and the selection of songs was a mix of classic and modern. I don’t kneel when everyone else does. I think this is more respectful, since I’m not Catholic. Part of me does want to kneel though, because I can feel the ancient significance of the action. The murmur of everyone’s voices as they repeat prayers, the ceremony and care when handling the holy implements, the scent of incense. These trigger primal memories within me and I long to reach my arms out to the All. I also stand aside when everyone goes forward to receive communion. This choice, again, highlights my difference.

After the mass several of the guests went next door to a local pub for drinks. I REALLY wanted a nap, and would have happily taken myself back to the hotel for the indulgence, but, alas, I am not insured so I was chained to The Man as he drank and talked. We made it to the hotel about an hour before The Dinner. This part is different than I remember from receptions back home. People invited to the “afters” actually have a meal, which includes wine, starter, main and dessert. There are speeches by both fathers, the groom and the best man. I didn’t see anyone cut the cake and there was no feeding of the cake to each other by the new couple. After the speeches people are asked to move into the bar, for more drinking, while tables are moved and the dance floor cleared.

Then the night gets crazy. The band starts, there is more drinking, there is dancing, more drinking, moving from table to table for the “craic”, more drinking, some dancing, more drinking, maybe a few ties are removed now, more drinking, the DJ takes over, more drinking, women’s heels are off, more drinking, some men take their shirts off, more drinking, ties are put around the head Rambo style, more drinking, pants are rolled up and bizarre semblance of Irish jigs are performed, more drinking, there might be something like moshing or body surfing attempts, more drinking…..

A note on the drinking. Ireland complies with a “round system”. Everyone is expected to buy a round. I don’t know who decides to start it, but they ask everyone what they are having and a few minutes later a drink appears before you. Perhaps the next round comes when the thirstiest person finishes their drink and wants another instead of waiting. By about 2am I had three drinks queued up waiting for me! This system is one of those unspoken societal things. If you don’t buy a round, everyone notices and comments on it to each other. They also comment on the person who mistakenly decides on an expensive drink, as now everyone buying rounds is obliged to spend €18 on that tiny bottle of champagne! (yes, she did. yes, everyone talked about her.)

I want to make a quick comment here. I met almost all His firm’s partners (and their wives) at this event. This was the first time I met any of His work colleagues. In fact, the newlyweds work with Him, which is why they were all there. For those who know me…there is one word (and you know what it is)…….AAAAGGGGHHHHH!!!! Nerves!!! Biting of Nails!!!! Nightmares!!!! (literally) They were pleasant, and many of them made a point of coming over and engaging me in conversation, but still…….AAAAAGGGGHHHHH!

We were in our hotel room by 4am, which, as I understand, is early for an Irish Wedding. Bleary eyed and barely conscious we drug ourselves out at noon and, being unfit for the drive home, wandered around Kilkenny. I highly recommend this town. It boasts a medieval castle which has fantastic grounds! (I’ll post a few pics later) There really is nothing like hanging onto your partner during a hang-over. (I wonder if that’s the etymology) It was a most surprising bonding experience!

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