Dropping my iPhone on the concrete carpark - smashed glass! Oh no! But it still worked, miraculously.
Gathering grass and wildflowers and weeds for the table decorations, getting Gill and Gillie to help and then Joan as well. Working away in the banquet hall with all the little blue yoghurt pots…. Creating 15 or so tiny flower arrangements, one for each table.
Asking Tom Sutton Roberts, the best man, if he could do anything about my phone. He took it away.
Then we made the tower of cheese - starting with the mirrored silver stand, and a great wheel of cheese at the base, then three champagne flutes charged with white grapes, then another wheel of cheese, three more flutes, and the last two cheeses on top. We draped our hops around it, and had to tie the tablecloth in as the drapes were a bit of liability for trips and catches.
Tom brought my phone back, coated in sellotape - good enough to get home with. Fantastic.
Then lunch - smoked wild salmon and Gubeen cheese - wonderful pure natural foods of the highest quality such as you rarely find in England these days. The food in Ireland - the handmade food of the old days - is superb. We showered, got dressed, decided what exactly to wear - Andrew contriving some cufflinks out of the plastic clips which held his shirt into its packaging. He never fails to impress with his ingenuity. Then the magic started….
We were all gathering at the front of Dundrum - cars and a busload from Thurles (booked to go back at 4am!) including babies and toddlers and then Granny Coffey in her wheelchair… There was a great milling about, with hunts for this person or that, or this item or that. Eventually a photographer arrived and took charge - and showed she was effectively running the wedding. 'Stand here! Stand there' You on the balcony, I can see your feet in this shot - go back a bit'…etc.
(I started writing this on Sunday, at Jo's parents' house - but the barbecue party gathered and I had to stop of course. I want to capture as many memories as I can….. Now I am back at Dundrum, have had a wonderful swim, going back up to the Coffey house to collect some stuff and pick up Jo and Dave to bring them back to their free bridal night at the hotel…… so not much time.).
In the lobby they had a great scheme - a fingerprint art work where everyone puts their blob onto a drawn tree, and signs it… in green or gold. It created a surprisingly attractive communal artwork. And there was a polaroid camera which we all had to use to get our portraits done, and stick the pix in an album. Hilarious in the hands of a mob of creative young people.
Then into the ceremony area - a lovely drawing room, with gold chairs set out in diagonal blocks - in the style of an American movie. The sun streamed in, the room filled up. We were all expectant…. The celebrant - a very English woman called Bridget - was in charge. She announced the arrival of the bride and then we waited a bit longer. In came the bridesmaids - blonde and smiling like the sun. Another wait, and then came Jo with her father - both of them radiant with happiness. She looked absolutely stunning - slender and tall, with her fitted lace gown spreading out behind her - like a queen. It was breathtaking…. Then the ceremony, which consisted of some readings and then vows and a declaration that the deed was done… People were crying all over the place - it was very very moving. There was applause, and then lovely music which everyone joined in singing while the register was signed. The atmosphere was fantastic, so happy!
Then we all trailed out, for what turned out to be a succession of photoshoots…
Then it was time for dinner - a lovely room - food, drinks, speeches - ah, speeches! Jo's dad Chris made a speech which had us all more or less in tears - there is something terribly poignant about the father talking about his little girl - he told us all the milestones of her life, how she had grown up, and how she had blossomed when she met up with David. The best man sitting beside me on the so-called top table - a man who looks as if he doesn't have a nerve in his body - confided he was quaking, but gave a flawless performance. The time came for the tables to be cleared away for dancing - and omigod - these Irish can dance! The Irish granny, in her wheelchair, came to dance too - being twirled around in her chair and beaming broadly. (The English granny her her wheelchair had crept off to bed by 10pm). Most of us feeble English faded away well before midnight, but the locals, headed by the bride's mother, went on till 4am. The bus which had brought the contingent from Thurles took them away again at 2.30 - babies, toddlers, children, young, old, all up for it.
Our friends who had come from London - the godparents - who are mostly sophisticated Londoners - had all noticeably softened during the day - all were enchanted by the day. There was a kind of rapture, induced by Chris's colossal victory over illness and pain to be there to give his girl away, and by the electric undercurrents of Irish v English being melted away by the ceremony.
Tom, one of the godfathers, said he overheard someone say 'I've never been to one of these humanitarian weddings before….' which seemed a good way of describing it.
I could condense this all by saying: the bride was beautiful and radiated joy, the groom ecstatic, the whole party very happy and the weather shone on us all.