Jottings contributor Roy Houston shares memories of a family wedding which took place in Ireland last August.

My wife Carolynne and I were in Ireland in August to attend, and officiate, at my niece Jordan's wedding. The days of conventional weddings in churches is now passé, so this wedding was to be held on Lusty Beg, one of many islands in the lake region of County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland.

My sister decided that in addition to all of her other burdens, she must have the two of us staying with her, in a house already full of family and wedding paraphernalia. My sister is not to be argued with, so we joined the madness.

We squeezed ourselves into our bedroom, with closets stuffed and no table or floor space. We piled belongings to the ceiling where possible and managed to get to and from the bed without injury for the length of our stay.

This was my nephew Luke's bedroom, but he was banished to his big sister Holly's house for the duration of our stay. He made occasional sorties to the room to pick up essentials that he had forgotten to take when he was thrown out, and we managed by using our suitcases for storage plus one drawer.

It was great to be home.

The wedding was on Aug. 23, so we travelled to Lusty Beg on the 22nd for setup, etc. (We had arrived home on Aug. 3 with plenty of time for Carolynne to finalize all of the wedding details. Of course, this pre-wedding period was filled with the normal details: suits, dresses, flowers, final count, the usual.)

The other less-formal part was receiving visitors at the house: local friends, the groom's family from England and relatives and friends from Australia. This required people to be both fed and watered in true Irish tradition. In fact, a significant amount of space in the front room for receiving visitors was stacked with cases of wine that reputedly were for the wedding, but shrank alarmingly before that date.

Speaking of that, our first three nights home saw us not getting to bed until the wee hours of the morning. My jet lag magically vanished, but for Carolynne, a non-drinker, it took a little longer.

Many calamities ensued but were solved with the usual Irish vigor and so we came to the umpteenth "stag" night that coincided with my niece's "hen" party. Young and much older men took to the streets of Bangor to share some cheer and camaraderie in the local hostelries. Fun was had by all, but by midnight, the older folks: mainly Peter, my brother-in-law and father of the bride, and myself: decided that since the young men showed no sign of tiring, we should go home to our nice warm beds.

Peter decided that we should walk the two miles home because it would be impossible to get a taxi at this time of night. (He was wrong, as it turns out, because another of our colleagues did find a taxi within five minutes.) So there we were, minding our own business as we walked home, when the pavement decided to jump up and attack me. My brave brother-in-law immediately jumped to my rescue, and the pavement attacked him also.

We were a sorry sight. Being on blood thinners, I bled profusely while Peter sustained a sizable gash on his head.

At this point, Peter thought that a sensible approach would be to call our wives and prepare them for the sight that would soon be coming around the corner. As we proceeded home, I suggested to Peter (since he was a policeman) that we should report the pavement and have it arrested. Peter concluded, however, that it was late and that he did not want to disturb his colleagues and spoil their peaceful night.

Our wives cleaned us up and off we went to bed.

The following morning, I had a black eye and Peter had a very angry and large graze on his head. We decided that it was wise not to attend church, where Peter is an elder, as there were likely to be too many awkward questions. Thankfully, time passed and Peter: none the worse for wear, minus graze: walked Jordan down the aisle and my black eye was only a memory. It was good to be home.

Roy Houston is a member of the Jottings Group at The Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.

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