Wedding log

by Leo

Thursday 17 June 2004

Chicago, Ill. 2:30 pm. We arrived at O'Hare only to be told that our 5 pm flight departed at 1:55 pm. Huh? It turned out that there was a schedule change that went unnoticed. The USAir agent was extremely sympathetic and tried to find a way to get us to our destination. As she was checking for alternatives, she realised that our original flight was still at the gate due to weather delay and managed to squeeze us in! Another friendly flight attendant allowed us stow our carry-ons in the crew cabinet -- the alternative would have been to check them in cargo. No sooner than we were seated, the airplane was pushed back! Then we spent 3 hours on the tarmac because of a ground stop at Philadelphia, which was our stop-over on our way to Dublin. At least we made it to our scheduled flight!

Philadelphia, Penn. 8 pm. We arrived here 20 minutes prior to the departure of our transantlantic flight. It took us 20 minutes to go between gates but yet another sympathetic USAir agent rushed us down the jet way seconds before the airplane pushed back! Then we spent 2 hours in active taxing as we moved our way up from number 32 to take off!

Friday 18 June 2004

Dublin, Ireland, 10 am. We made it but our luggages did not. We filed a delayed luggage report and we headed to the National counter where we were duly informed that our car reservation was cancelled. No cancellation record could be found however and the reservation was magically resurected and within minutes we drove off the airport lot in a 2003 VW Caravele.

Moate, Ireland 12 noon. Lunch at the Grand Hotel's carvery. This was the first civilized meal since Thursday morning. Our anxiety about the fate of our luggage (that contains Breeda's wedding gown, Leo's tuxedo, the wedding booklet, etc) begun to build up.

Ballinlassy, Ireland 1:30 pm. We arrived at Breeda's parent's home. We went to Athlone to run some errands in hopes of venting off some of our anxiety about the luggages. The airline people assured us that the luggages would be arriving tomorrow but we were still quite worried. We managed to stay up till 7 pm but since we got little sleep during our flights we finally turned in at 7. I woke up at 1 am and did risk analysis calculations on my computer to find out what's the likelihood of USAir loosing all three luggages. The estimate of 0.000829% was quite relaxing and helped me sleep until 3 pm when I realized that my assumptions were wrong and I missed at least two orders of magnitude!!

Saturday 19 June 2004

Ballinlassy, Ireland 9 am. We checked with the airline about the luggages. The flight from Philly, hopefully carrying our luggages, was delayed. 10 am. We heded out to Tullow and Kiltegan to check out some wedding arrangements.

Tullow, Ireland 12:15 noon. We arrived at Mt. Wolseley and it looked lovely. In the mean time we kept calling the airport every 30 minutes (that's anxiety!) Finally, as we pulled in the hotel's parking lot we were told that all three luggages arrived safely and were about to be sent to the McGrath castle. Relaxed, we headed to the hotel's carvery for lunch and this time the food tasted good (either due to removal of anxiety or to better chef than the one in Moate)! The hotel arrangements seemed to be in order, and the manager was very helpful!

Kiltegan, Ireland 1:40 pm. Our next stop was Sli an Chroi to meet with Seamus, a good old friend and the priest who would be officiating at our wedding. We found him in front of the House pulling weeds from the garden and he was in great form.

Tullow, Ireland 4 pm. Breeda stopped by the hair dresser's and the beautician's shops while Leo made some new friends in the town. We started driving back to Athlone around 6 pm.

Ballinlassy, Ireland 8 pm. We were back to the McGrath headquarters and our luggages were here! All three of them. In tact. I begin to fall in love with USAir! A few minutes after our arrival Sinead showed up along with Noleg and her two girls, Emma and Chloe.

Athlone, Ireland 9:30 pm. Breeda, Sinead, and myself went out for dinner to Hatter's Lane. I had my first pint of Guinness during this trip and it tasted good. I am a bit disappointed because fewer -- much fewer -- bars and pubs serve the extra cold draught. Apparently it was not that popular. Anyway, the second pint of Guiness followed after dinner at the Prince Bar where we meet with Treasa and Vincent. Wow... four siblings and two nieces in just three hours ... That's a bit much.

Sunday 20 June 2004 -- Father's day

Ballinlassy, Ireland 2 pm. Father's day dinner at the McGrath headquarter, cooked by Sinead. John and Caroline are here today with Sorcha (another niece of mine). Joseph was there too. Sinead made chile con carne, lasagna, basmati rice, and mashed potatoes. After lunch (well, it's called dinner really) the boys lit a bonfire. Siobhan -- who was also there -- told me that the last bonfire was when Breeda's previous boyfriend disappeared mysteriously.

Moate, Ireland 9 pm. After a relaxing evening, Breeda and I went out for curry chips and then a drink at the Auld Shebeen before getting back and calling it quits for the day.

Monday 21 June 2004 (Summer Solstice)

Ballinlassy, Ireland 1 pm. We took things slowly today. Breeda worked on a presentation that she has to give when we return to Chicago. We decided to go out for lunch and a walk at the Hodson Bay hotel on the shores of Lough Ree.

From there we went to Mullingar, to visit Caroline's store, and then back to Athlone.

Tuesday 22 June 2004

Kiltegan, Ireland 2 pm. We left Athlone earlier today to go to Kiltegan and take care of some last minute arrangements with Seamus and Claire (our florist). In the evening we drove to Dublin where we are spending the night at the Airport Regency hotel. It's a very old hotel and it shows its age. In its inner hallways you can also smell its old age. The staff were friendly and the aging character of the hotel was charming, but the amenities left a lot to be desired.

We checked in at the hotel and we met with Siobhan and Sinead for dinner and drinks.

10:30 pm. My father, along with four of my best friends from Greece (Dimitris, the best man; his wife Alexia; Mpampis, and his wife Eva) arrived and I picked them up from the airport. Breeda stayed at the hotel to rest.

Wednesday 23 June 2004

Dublin, Ireland 12 noon. The Greeks set off to see Dublin before heading down to Tullow. Breeda stays back at the hotel to wait for Sinead. The hen party was tonight and she stayed in Dublin for that.

Of course I got lost and ended up touring Dublin's underbellum in the rain. Finally we made it to Grafton street, walked around Temple Bar, and settled at our favourite pub (O'Neil's) for lunch. Pericles and Sofia found us there. 3 pm. The Greeks departed Dublin and head out to N9 on our way to Mt. Wolseley.

Tullow, Ireland 6 pm. The Greeks arrived at the hotel and checkd in. We rested for a bit and then we try a local pub, Tara's Arm, that was great. The atmosphere reminded us a small Greek tavern, "koutouki" as we call it.

Dublin, Ireland 7 pm. The hen party is underway at Cafe Mao at Chatham Row. There are no details from this event but the photographs are quite telling.

Thursday 24 June 2004
Kiltegan, Ireland 11 am. The Greeks drove to Sli An Chroi to say hi to Seamus. The preparations for the wedding were underway at the St. Brigid Chapel which was being spruced up for the occasion. Seamus was in great form, as always!

Waterford, Ireland 1:30 pm. Following Kiltegan the Greeks made it to Waterford for some lite sightseeing. A friendly receptionist at the Waterford Crystal Factory offered them a complimentary pass to tour the factory for Friday! That's the day of the wedding of course!

Carlow, Ireland 7:25 pm. Catherine and Eric arrived here by train and were met by the Greeks (talk about a welcoming committee).

Tullow, Ireland 8:30 pm. Mpampis, Dimitris, and Leo finished the place cards for the dinner tomorrow and the wedding programme. 10 pm. Nearly everyone who's here meets at the bar for champaign and drinks. 12 pm. Heather and Frank arrive -- these are special friends because Breeda and Leo were the first non family members to hear about their engagement and vice versa!

Friday 25 June 2004 -- The Big Day

Tullow, Ireland 8 am. Breakfast with most of the wedding guests -- this was not planned but it was a fortuitous coincidence.

10:30 am. Eva, Alexia, Mpampis, and Dimitri decided to get a couple of golf carts and ride around the course.

12 noon. Leo Doyle, the photographer, arrived at the hotel.

1:30 pm. The groom's party is ready and assembled downstairs to have some pictures taken.

2:45 pm. The groom party left the hotel and the bride's party took over the place for a little while.

Kiltegan, Ireland 3:10 pm. The groom's party (Leo, his dad, Dimitri, Alexia, Eva, Mpampis, Pericles, and Sofia) arrived at St Patrick's campus, also known as Our Lady of Africa. The found Seamus pulling weeds again from his garden. Fifty minutes before the wedding, this was a bit unsettling -- in case you missed it, Seamus is the priest! But then again Seamus is special to Breeda and Leo and there was nothing surprising or out of the ordinary with him still in plainclothes pulling weeds 50 minutes before he was to officiate at their wedding. The chapel looks lovely and the florist did a wonderful job.

3:30 pm. Guests begin to arrive! Sara Swan was filling the room with music with her harp.

4 pm. The bride is here and Seamus is all dressed up. He even asked Leo to help him straighten up his vestments. That was cool.

4:10 pm. Enter the bride! If you know of a more laid back wedding let us know. Seamus welcomed the guests by asking them to relax and think of a couple of anxieties they wished to cast away. The first reading was Kavafy's Ithaka, followed by a letter by Paul, the gospel in Seamus' words, and the Reflection. Sinead McGrath (one of Breeda's sisters), Carol Jansson (a friend from Chicago), and Pericles Mitkas (Leo's PhD advisor) were the readers. Seamus of course read the gospel (well actually he delivered it in his own words), and Siobhan McGrath (another of Breeda's sisters) read the Prayer of the Faithful.

5 pm. The ceremony is over and the congregation went outside for pictures. It was a glorious day, warm and sunny. On their way out, Breeda and Leo were showered with rice -- lots of rice!

5:30 pm. Everyone left Sli an Chroi, heading back to the hotel for brown bread, smoked salmon, champaigne and, of course, the dinner.

Tullow, Ireland 6:30 pm. Back at the hotel! Bride and Groom arrived with the rest of the guests and they decided to drive around (with Sinead and Aine) for a few minutes.

7:15 pm. The guests were seatted for dinner. Breeda and Leo were then introduced as "Breeda and Leo" and were seatted as well. The wedding cake at the corner looked great. The food is great, the white wine good, and the red wine better. Speaches ensue. First by Michael McGrath, Breeda's father. Then by my father. Then I offered a few words, and finally Dimitris. We had a roving microphone for a while. Pericles availed himself to the opportunity and reminded everyone that he and I met on the internet! Siobhan had some nice things to say and on behalf of our Chicago friends Pedro offered wishes and good thoughts. Finally we cut the cake which we had no chance to sample -- although the rest of the desserts were great! Breeda's father and Caroline (her sister in law) sang for us. Dimitris (our best man) grabbed a guitar and sang three songs for me. The third song was Savvopoulos' Zeimbekiko, possibly my most favourite and revered song.

26 June 2004
Tullow, Ireland 1 am. Breeda and I decided to bail out. Right on time soon: Vincent took over the stereo and turned the room into a disco! Breeda's siblings, our parents, and most of the Greeks stayed up until 3 am.

10 am. Nearly everyone, including us, came downstairs for breakfast at this time.

1 am. We left Mt Wolseley with the Greeks, heading to Dublin to spend two nights there. We took the scenic road from Tullow to N11 and drove through a place called the meeting of waters. As we were running late we had to abandon our plans to visit Glendalough and we drove straight to Dublin. 3:30 pm.We checked in at the Hilton around 4 pm and we went upstairs to rest for a while.

Dublin, Ireland 8:30 pm. Dinner at Montry's of Katmantu, a Nepalese restaurant in Temple Bar that Dimitris found. For a Temple Bar place it was not bad at all. Actually I found their chicken tikka masala to be almost as good as that at our favorite indian place in Chicago.

27 June 2004

Drogheda, Ireland 10 am. We decided to visit Newgrange. We arrived on time for the 11:45 pm and we entered the passage tomp at 12:15 pm. It was an intriguing experience, especially when the lights were turned off. Then we had a snack at the tourist center's cafeteria and we returned to Dublin to tour the Jameson distillery.

The distillery tour was a bit disappointing compared to the experience at the Guiness storehouse. At Jameson you get to see scaled down versions of the equipment and instead of actual material you see props! At Guiness you are touring an actual brewery that has been converted to an interactive museum. Nonetheless, at the end of the tour we got to sample a shot of Jameson whiskey. I still prefer Islay's malts! Dimitri voluntreered to be a whiskey taster and at the end he got a certificate attesting to this new accomplishment of his.

5 pm. We returned to Dublin. Sinead and Siobhan came to the hotel to have drinks with Breeda and myself. Vincent joined us half hour later and they all stayed with us till 8:30 when we left to join the rest of the Greeks for dinner at another Temple Bar restaurant that we found interesting. Called Il Bacaro, the place is quite cute, inexpensive but it's food is mediocre: premade sauces, overcooked and recooked pasta, and unimaginative appetizers. Still, considering that we were in Temple Bar, it was not a bad place.

This was our last night in Dublin. We are scheduled to fly back to the States on Monday 6/28.