So, as promised, I’m going to detour my way backwards a little bit and explore the main events of the summer over the next few weeks, as and when I get round to it. I seem to have reached that age where weddings become a regular thing. Obviously I’m not complaining; my own is only a few months away, but at the same time, time seems to fly by, and having been out of the country for so long, friends who are getting married still live in my memory as misbehaving teenagers or party-animal university students. I’m sure they still see me the same way.
The most important wedding of all (from my point of view, of course), is my own. Helena and I finally found a place and time we’re happy with, so we’re all set for the 27th of May next year. Don’t worry, you haven’t received an invitation yet because nobody has. One small hitch is that we don’t want a religious ceremony. I’m not only not religious, but in light of some recent events, I’d go so far as to say I really quite dislike many forms of organized religion, if I’m being completely honest, and your wedding day is not the time to feel like you’re living a lie, so I won’t be swearing anything to God or the church. Civil ceremonies in Ireland can only take place on a weekday, so the wedding day (for those who didn’t immediately run off and check their calendars!) is a Friday. That might make things a little difficult for guests, but we also figured that those who are bothered enough to come will find a way round it given plenty of notice. We did consider far further afield (I have an English friend whose currently planning a wedding in South Africa), but the expenses and difficult in planning ruled that out.
The venue is unbelievable. It’s a castle just south of Sligo in the west of Ireland, located in a small town called Collooney. I think we both knew the moment we walked through the door that it was the place we wanted, and while it’s pretty pricy, the cost does include everything except the personal effects and trimmings, as well as exclusive use, and we can also have the ceremony itself and the inevitably Irish-style post-wedding shenanigans there, too. I’ve attached a few photos, and if you feel like a more in depth look you can click through to the website, too (those who will be there, we have a reduced rate on the rooms, but there’s also the option to head to Sligo and sleep there, though I doubt the price different will be all that substantial, and it’s a requirement that you stay late and make it a proper good party! More to follow, of course – Helena’s already well into her dress hunting (amazing how early you have to do that), and we also have one of the best bands in Ireland (in my humble music journalist mode opinion) to play for us. We’ll make sure there’s a little bit of more mainstream wedding music along the way, of course! There’s only one down side the whole thing, and that’s that this really won’t be a travel blog for a few months, as going anywhere other than around locally is out of the question. All fund have been diverted, and I’m very, very happy about it!
While we’re on the subject of weddings, I haven’t yet written anything about my sister Bridget’s. She married her long-time boyfriend Jim back in the early summer, back in our hometown of Salisbury, and I have to say the ceremony was absolutely beautiful. Plenty of ideas to take from it (chuckle – going second is an advantage!) especially when it comes to the more practical side of things. They’re a great couple and I’m sure they’ve already settled very happily into married life. For me the weekend was a quick and tiring one, so perhaps not as enjoyable as it should have been, though catching up with all the cousins and seeing the little twists they had on the day (the ice cream van turning up in the evening, for example) was really sweet and romantic.
Believe it or not, there are still two more wedding-themed stories to come, but I’ll make them brief. Celine and Daniel – friend’s of Helena’s going back years – got married on the beach in Donegal a couple of months back, which was pretty special despite the wind. The party afterwards was absolutely epic (which is what’s led me to believe that Irish weddings are generally a touch messy), and the sheer effort involved in driving back to Dublin was a serious struggle against a mammoth hangover, though dropping in on the town of ‘Muff’ helped a lot!
I also went to an old school friend Steve’s stag do, which involved two very heavy nights in Brighton, go karting and playing some suitably ridiculous drinking games. I got punished particularly harshly for braking too late in the go karting and running the stag off the road in the semi final, but that was probably deserved in fairness. Both nights ended up very late on Brighton Beach or a nearby casino, and involved fake moustaches and far, far too much alcohol. Sadly I couldn’t make it for the wedding itself, but to say this made me wary of my own stag is a bit of an understatement.
I have four different wedding-themed stories, which probably gives an idea of how much other rambling is still to be done here over the coming weeks.
To the chapel!