So it was back to Ireland this past weekend for Chequie’s wedding. It seems hard to believe that she’s not 15 anymore, but after all the last time I was living in Dublin was 15 years ago !
I left Jenn with the kids, since The Conallator is still too much of a handful to take on a plane, and flew in to Belfast on Friday morning. Belfast is actually a nicer airport to fly into than Dublin, these days, as it’s so much smaller and nowhere near as crazy busy.
Once I picked up my rental car I headed off for Castle Leslie in County Monaghan. It took a little over an hour for me to reach the village of Glaslough (“green lake”). The castle is magnificent, overlooking the eponymous lake and nestled in a demesne of 1,000 acres. I checked in with some trepidation, as the reservation staff were the most incompetent I had ever come across, but after an initial hiccup I was soon comfortably ensconced in a perfectly adequate room.
After a leisurely lunch in the hunting lodge, over which I met some fellow wedding guests, I spent Friday afternoon relaxing with a good book before strolling up to the castle proper for a pre-wedding dinner get-together. That was so much fun, with all the guys in one room and the girls carefully segregated at the other end of the castle. After the stag dinners, everyone mingled together in the bar, and it was wonderful to catch up with cousins and friends I hadn’t seen in years, and to meet new ones. The crack was mighty, with the guests being a fantastic bunch of folk. Indeed, I would probably have been there all night save for Antoinette dragging me out and depositing me back home in the wee hours. On reflection, it was just as well that I got to bed at 4am, as I hadn’t slept a wink on the plane coming over from New York.
On Saturday morning I was feeling very virtuous – and gloriously hangover-free – as I was up disgustingly early for a stroll and a 9am breakfast – the mandatory Irish one, of course – followed by a re-invigorating massage. At lunchtime we all piled into buses to be driven to Armagh Cathedral for the wedding ceremony. Things were delayed no more than half an hour due to the groomsmen forgetting to bring the booklets with them – they probably left them in the pub in the Hunting Lodge after they had their pre-nuptual pints – and the wedding went off without a hitch. The weather was glorious, the occasionally threatening clouds holding off and letting the sun shine through.
Upon our arrival back at the castle we were treated to cocktails on the lawn, to the strains of the Queen’s University Brass Band, with a string quartet ready to entertain us through dinner. There were cousins galore there, of course, so I was able to catch up with Mary and Monica, and Kane and Kate, and Agatha and Brendan, before joining Anne-Marie and Rosanna and Marcel for dinner. After a magnificent dinner, with our usual high-brow and scintillating conversation, we adjourned outside into the beautiful starry night for some champagne while the reception marquee was refitted as a nightclub, and we then reverted back in to dance, drink and catch up with all and sundry. We were treated to a performance by Martin’s chanteuse sister, who stole the show with a virtuoso performance, followed by an Irish dancing troupe, a band and then a disco. The night seemed to fly by as I caught up with friends old and new.
Alas, the night came to an end for me as dawn was breaking, as I had to saunter back to the cottage in which I was staying and catch a few winks. Actually getting out of the castle was an adventure, with Antoinette as usual being the voice of reason and persuading me that climbing the railings to obtain egress was perhaps not the ideal strategy. Finally succeeding in navigating the castle and making our way outside, it was about 5am when I hit the sack, rising again at 7am for the trip back to Belfast. All in all it was a fabulous weekend, filled with laughter and good cheer, and it truly warmed the cockles of my heart to be able so share their special weekend with Franceca and Martin.
The trip back to New York was uneventful, as was the drive back home to Dutchess County. The house was quiet as Jenn and the kids are off to New Hampshire for a few days, but all hell with break loose and the place will be back to the normal chaos upon their return on Thursday…Stay tuned.


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