Monday, August 29, 2011

Triona & John - The Athlone Sheraton, 26th August

"Well if that doesn't beat Banagher!"
We've all heard the quote, and apparently it comes from the fact that Banagher was once a 'pocket borough', which meant the local lord was able to nominate its representatives in Parliament. The town became famous for this lack of democracy, so if something was really odd, it was said to 'beat Banagher.' Joyce, Trollope and Plunkett, amongst others, have used the expression in their novels. On Friday, Banagher would have taken a lot of beating, as a great crowd gathered for Triona & John's wedding. Most of them seemed to arrive in Triona's house before the ceremony too - I have never seen so many people in the bride's house on the morning of a wedding. Even so, Toby the King Charles, and Triona's Dad PJ were able to stay relaxed, while Pageboy Liam took to the trampoline to overcome any pre-wedding nerves.

The ceremony was conducted in great humour by the wonderfully-named Fr Pierre Pepper. As Triona works in The Railway Bar, there was another little ceremony to be conducted when she pulled John's first pint (Smithwicks) as a married man, before having a drink with some of her regulars. One of the dangers of stopping for a quick one in the local after a wedding is that it can be very hard to leave. John anticipated this on Friday, so he barred the bridal party, who were sent straight on to Clonmacnoise to wait for us. They took it in good heart though.

It was my first time to photograph a wedding in The Sheraton, and Nigel was a great help in escorting us around this large hotel, where we visited the bridal suite for the view over the Shannon and The Presidential Suite for a special request for Triona. Again, my groom was a big Liverpool fan - and he could prove it. I seem to be a magnet for Koppites at the moment!











Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Surekha & John

Friday's wedding in Markree Castle promised to be a colourful affair, and it certainly lived up to expectations. Groom John is a London-based Fashion Designer, who has been making quite a name for himself in the rag trade, working alongside lots of well-known names, including The Clothes Show's Jeff Banks. He's a Sligo boy though, and he brought his beautiful bride Surekha back to his native county to wed her. Surekha is an East End girl, second-generation Indian, which added to the colour and excitement of the event. The bridesmaids and ladies in Surekha's family were resplendent in their Saris. There was even one guest, Gerry, who was dressed in traditional African ceremonial robes, (from Sierra Leone), for the first part of the day, before changing into a dashing tartan kilt for the evening revelries.

It was standing-room only as the guests packed into the Chapel in Markree, a lovely, ornate, but very dark space. The Ceremony began with the Civil declarations, and carried on with a combination of traditional Hindu and Gaelic elements, which made for a very unique celebration of marriage. There were garlands, fire, music, and recitals from Yeats.

Though the rain had fallen steadily all day, luck was with me once again, as the downpour stopped just before dinner, allowing us to get outside for a wander through the Castle gardens. The speeches were very entertaining - Surekha's brother Kerit was nervous over dinner, but delivered his with aplomb, and then the ghost of Eamonn Andrews appeared in the form of Best Man Declan, who walked us through an hilarious Episode of This Is Your Life. John seemed genuinely delighted to be reunited with his childhood Teddy Bear.

The music throughout the day was outstanding - there was a classical quartet during the ceremony, Sligo's own Tucan played in the evening - but the one who stole the show was John's nephew, Killian Filan. Only 16, he took to the stage during the ceremony and blew everyone away with his performance. Great voice and the poise and confidence to match. His uncle Shane was also present; there were no signs of a Westlife medley by the time I was leaving, but that may well have happened later.












Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Karen & Mark - 12th August, The Landmark Hotel

I have had an incredible run in 2011 - 28 weddings and not a single one rained off, despite the iffy weather we've experienced all year. It looked as though I was about to come unstuck on No.29 though, as the forecast was dire, and I drove to Arva in dismal conditions. They continued throughout the day, it rained cats & dogs at the Church, we got drenched in Drumsna, it was lashing as we arrived at The Landmark. Brian Duignan on video had cleverly brought his "Mac in a Sac", but I had no shelter from the storm. And then, just before dinner, the sun appeared. Not for long, but it gave Karen & Mark the chance to have a stroll along the boardwalk at the Shannon, and kept my run going for another while.

Karen was very cool about the weather, and took almost everything in her stride. The only thing that panicked her for a moment was when the pre-ceremony bottle of champagne was opened with a bang. You can see the cork in mid-air, but I think it's on it might actually be on its way back down after hitting the ceiling. Karen's Dad Michael looks pretty cool about it all, as he also does walking down the aisle, greeting friends in the congregation as he goes.

Mark is a sound man, with good taste in beers - all the tables were named after beers of the world - the top table was Pilsner Urquell. Sadly, he doesn't have such good taste when it comes to football. As an Everton supporter, I had to call on every ounce of professionalism to photograph the group of misguided lads below.

The happy couple are off to Bali and Australia for their honeymoon, which will be briefly interrupted for Karen to conduct an interview with NUI Maynooth while they're away. A Scientist, she's currently doing research in Oxford University, but Maynooth is a lot closer to home and to Cartron House where Mark is the head greenkeeper. He has obviously impressed some of the users of the course as among the messages of congratulations was one from the Irish Rugby side, signed by Paul O'Connell, Brian O'Driscoll, Declan Kidney and the rest of the squad. One to keep.













Monday, August 15, 2011

Patricia & Michael - 6th August

I was back in The Landmark for the second day in a row for Patricia & Michael's wedding. Michael is a Kilnagross man, not too far from my own homeplace, so I spotted a fair few familiar faces in the crowd. First though, it was north to the other end of County Leitrim to Patricia's house in Dromahair.

I've talked before about the most emotionally-charged moments of the wedding day, which are as the bride walks up the aisle to meet her husband-to-be. For some reason, priests tend to tell the groom not to look around, but many grooms can't resist the temptation. Michael did, but you can see the anticipation, nervousness and excitement writ large in his face in the photograph below.

Leaving Sligo, the heavens opened, and as we drove through the deluge, had to abandon our plans to stop at the Holywell and Lough Gill. Hoping for better further down the road, we thought about Lough Arrow. No good, it was still pouring down. So I gave John Mitchell a buzz - the sun was shining in Boyle at Abbey House. As always, the lawns were beautifully manicured, so against all the odds we got our photo session done in perfect conditions.

Back at The Landmark Patricia and Emma rolled into action again, making everyone welcome and distributing cocktails to all. The legendary Sean Browne was on video duty, commandeering groomsman Martin to drive his car so he could get his "out the sunroof" shot. Brian McDermott and his band provided the entertainment.











Laura & Kenny

It was a big Dubs day out in Carrick for Laura & Kenny's wedding as the Roches, the Browns and all their friends set off down the N4. Kenny has a connection with the area as his parents Alan & Siobhan have had a boat on the Shannon for years now. So where better to get married than Cootehall, and where better to celebrate it than The Landmark Hotel?

Laura was getting ready in the hotel, and as always, Patricia and Emma were in attendance. All their skills were put to the test, as they doubled up as hairdressers and florists before making running repairs to the cake that fell over in transit from Dublin. These two are up to any challenge! Meanwhile, the lads were across the Road in The Carrick Plaza and were gradually stirring themselves and finishing off their speeches.

After the ceremony, we had a stop at Lough Key before heading back to the hotel, and just before Dinner, we boarded the Brown's boat for a quick pic. It was specially bedecked in ribbons for the big day. A special mention for groomsman Johnny too, who kept the bridal party and me in stitches all day with his bawdy wisecracks.