Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Wedding

October 2000:

Since many of my journal entries either weren't saved or are back in storage in NC, I will try to recreate some things about life there. This entry will be about the Irish Wedding.

I mentioned previously that I had a date with Dennis O'Shea to accompany him to his niece's wedding in October 2000. I was excited to be going to a wedding as well as to be asked for a date. The Irish wedding is held in church and the most outstanding thing about it that I can recall seven years later is the hats worn by the women. If you ever watch the Kentucky Derby you will notice the hats worn by the owners' wives and the "nobility" of the horse racing world. Well, the Irish women wear beautiful and outlandish hats to the races, but also to weddings. It is such a tradition that many dress shops offer hats to rent, and they have a constant turnover of these rental hats so that two women in the same area won't rent the same hat.

Needless to say I didn't wear a hat, and I was stressed out enough as it was about what I should wear. My friends and neighbors came to my rescue and looked over the various outfits I had brought with me, selecting the one they liked best. I was also nervous because Dennis has 7 sisters and two sisters-in-law, and his mother was still living, so I knew I had to be sure to make a good impression. I have always been likedd by a boyfriend's mother, but sisters can be an unknown factor. I think they were all so relieved that he was escorting a nice woman, one with a bit of class, that they all loved me.

The church was in Castletownbere and the reception was held at a hotel in Kenmare, maybe 40 miles or so over in County Kerry. It is a long drive over winding roads, which tends to make a person extremely thirsty, so the pubs along the route to Kenmare did a roaring business that day. I think our party stopped at two different pubs before reaching Kenmare. We finally reached the reception and I honestly don't remember much about it this many years later, except that I remember my feet hurt! The dancing alternated between the usual crap that passes for music these days and the traditional Irish party favorites. While in America the band might call on everyone to get up to dance the Hokey Pokey, in Ireland it is traditional to "Shoe the Donkey". I had a lot of fun at this reception, but I kept fairly quiet and sedate, and took it all in. Dennis and I were "an item" for several months after that, but I remained cordial with his family until the day I left Ireland.

Dennis had traveled to the United States in the 1960's and stayed, no doubt illegally. He worked at JFK airport for Aer Lingus (the Irish airlines), and when the war in Vietnam began he enlisted in the US Army. He spent a harrowing tour of duty and still has nightmares about "Hamburger Hill". When he returned to the US he was granted citizenship, and remained here for several years. Exposed to Agent Orange his health suffered, and like many ill-informed young men of that time he had signed a waiver that prevented him from ever getting compensation for it. He was getting a disability pension from Social Security when I knew him. He loved the United States and always retained his dual citizenship, but couldn't afford to live here and was unable to work, so he returned to his home in Ireland where he virtually turned over his entire social security pension every month to the local pubs.

That was the only wedding I went to while in Ireland, and it was certainly an experience.

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