So, on Saturday morning, John met us at the Clifden House (where we were staying) and we headed to Manouth, County Kildare to check in to our hotel for the night and then head to the church. The navigating came a little easier this time 'round (as soon as I figured out "slip" was indeed NOT the name of the road, but rather Irish for "exit ramp") and we made it to the Liffey Valley House without much ado. Wonderfully, we met Peter and Tracy in the lobby and after all of us changed into our "wedding clothes" we headed to the bar to get "a pint for the road."
This is day two of both breakfast and lunch consisting of Guinness alone.
We drove through some beautiful country to the church, a small stone building in the midst of beautifully green fields. Here's Sam, and the church:
And the both of us all dolled up:
We actually made it quite faster to the church than we thought we would, so while we waited we ended up videotaping John as he practiced his reading (he was doing one of the Prayers of the Faithful). You know us well enough to know we weren't any help. Poor John really was on his own - but he did a wonderful job once we were all in the church and unable to tease him from feet away.
And, of course, Joyce was more beautiful than I can describe. The whole wedding, really, was more than I could find words for. I feel so honored to be invited to friends' weddings, it's such an initimate affair. Each is so different, so unique. It's such an awesome insight into who they are, what they value . . . And Joyce's was her to the core. Classic, elegant - full of grace. Just like her.
And it only got better. After the ceremony we all piled into our cars and caravanned to the manor house (where we had checked in earlier) for the reception. This was unbelievably awesome. Not only was it outstandingly beautiful, but Joyce and Mark's family and friends made us feel right at home.
Here's a shot of me during the cocktail hour, I'm sure right before I made the declaration that tomorrow we are eatting a meal before 6pm. And Guinness is not a meal!
But of course, there was a meal. In courses even. And it was probably one of the greatest meals I've had. I'm actually writing the hotel this week to ask for the soup recipe. See below for how much happier I am when fed . . .
We were at a table with some of Joyce's friends from school, and they were awesome. We had a long conversation trading tips and tricks as to what to see in each of our home countries. And, at one point we were discussing common misconceptions about what constituted "irish" - as in, leprechauns? Not Irish. And I asked, what about THE Irish Toast? "May the road rise to meet you . . ." And they are gaffawed and laughed and were like, no way. No one here ever gives that.
Two minutes later, Joyce's dad stood to give his toast and god bless him, he said "And I'd like to end with an old Irish toast. Joyce, Mark, may the road always rise to meet you, the wind be at your back . . . " It took all we had for our table not to burst out in laughter.
The rest of the night was even better, if that's possible. We alternated between sitting at a table near the bar and conversing with our new-found friends, to dancing with them out in the ballroom. We discussed everything from how great marriage is, to when are you coming with us to Montana, to politics (stretching from us and our 'merican madness to them and Northern Ireland). It was at once eye-opening and enheartening. I felt, for the first time, like a global citizen.
And when they came running over saying - you have to dance and I realized "I'm living in America" was playing, well, it coudln't have been any more fun.
Have I mentioned the fun? The last dance of the night was "New York, New York" and I must admit it brought tears to my eyes. I forget, sometimes, how lucky I am. To live here, to be here. To have all the opportunity and all the wonder and magic of this place at my fingertips every day. Not everyone can make their home here, and standing there in that magical place thousands of miles away . . . one arm around Sam and one around Joyce's Uncle Joe, I was overwhelmed.
Sam and I are so very lucky. We have truly made it here, as corny as it sounds. And have made some amazing, wonderful and truly spectacular friends along the way. And the goodness just keeps coming. I guess sometimes it really does take seeing how far you've come to truly realize where you're are. That night my heart was so very full. I wish I had a picture for that, but sadly all I have to give you is the scene of all of us out on the back porch long after the deejay had closed shop - Americans, Irish, family and friends indistinguishable beneath a star-filled sky; drinking Guinness and singing songs up to the moon.
It's why we traveled so very far, but it didn't feel so far at all. Not really. It felt just like home.
And Sarah, I agree. This IS a classic.
She says: We've got to hold on to what we've got
'Cause it doesn't make a difference
If we make it or not
We've got each other and that's a lot
For love - we'll give it a shot
We're half way there
Livin' on a prayer
Take my hand and we'll make it - I swear
Livin' on a prayer