The Adventures of BJ and Tony Morris
This wedding started out to be a bit stressful, and not just for Kat & Gordon, the bride and groom. The wedding was to be in Limavady, Northern Ireland which proved to a logistics challenge for all involved. September is not normally high season for Ireland, so we thought maybe some of the guests (and maybe even the bride and groom) could use buddy passes to travel to the event. We started checking flights and sending out availability reports several weeks before the trip. We worked out a schedule so that not all of the guests would try to get on the same flight. Of course, it would be most important for the bride and groom to get there so they would leave first, followed by the bride's family and then friends, a few each day. As the time for the wedding approached, the couple got nervous about the lack of available seats and decided to purchase confirmed seats directly to Belfast and home from Manchester where they planned to spend a short honeymoon.
We decided to snap a quick picture of the mound and be on our way to Limavady.
We corrected the setting on the GPS, but apparently our maps were not up to date because the GPS led us through Armagh and Dungannon and then a windy route through the Sperrin Mountains. We stopped for a snack in Armagh and another stop at a gas station that had an ATM where we could get some Irish pounds. We arrived in Limavady almost 5 hours after we had touched down in Dublin.
We drove into town and had lunch at the Alexander Arms hotel where the waitress commented on the dreary weather. We had the vegetable soup & brown bread. We found that the vegetable soup in Northern Ireland is not pureed like the soup in the Republic.
Grilled Pork Baps (sandwiches) were served with applesauce and a delicious red sauce. Heat lamps kept the tent toasty warm.
At the party, we learned that our poor exhausted Hawaiian friends Tim & Lynn would have to travel back to Dublin the next morning to pick up their bags. Thankfully one of the band members (for a fee) was willing to make the 7 hour round trip for them so they could sleep in!
BJ, Sandy & Kristi left Tony at the B&B and went over to the Roe Park Inn for a champagne toast with the bride as she was getting ready for the wedding.
We got back to the B&B in time to change clothes and meet the van that would take us to the wedding.
Gordon's friend Siddy drove us to the Alexander Arms hotel to pick up the rest of the Americans. We enjoyed basking in the sun outside the hotel while we waited for everyone to come out. Tim & Lynn had gotten their bags a half-hour earlier!
BJ took over the flight attendant duties in the van, imitating the Delta video where the redhead with the big lips instructs passengers that smoking is not allowed while she wags her finger at them.
We were a little early for the wedding so we made a stop at CastleRock to enjoy the beautiful view of the ocean. The wind was brutal on our hair, but the view was spectacular!
When we arrived at the wedding venue, we were greeted by a man at the gate playing bagpipes.
We explored lower grounds, the Dovecot & took advantage of the restrooms,
before traipsing across the field to the Mussenden Temple.
The temple is situated on a cliff over the ocean and is only open for weddings and special occasions. We learned later how lucky we were to get to see inside it since most of the people we met who had lived there their whole lives had never been inside.
The bagpipe music continued as we milled around the temple enjoying the view.
Inside the temple, the chairs were each set with a program for the wedding and a little bag of lavender for giving the couple their send-off.
It was a beautiful ceremony followed by the signing of the wedding documents!
Outside the temple, the beautiful weather and scenery made a perfect backdrop for the wedding pictures!
Of course, the Americans who had traveled over for the wedding (fourteen of us, in all) wanted to get in on the pictures!
Afterward, while more photographs were being taken, we were treated to a glass of champagne.
We made a quick tour of the Downhill Demesne, built in the early 1770s. After a fire, the house was restored in 1870 and remained in use until the 1940s.
It was soon time to leave the beautiful grounds of the temple and head to the reception..
The reception was at the Point Bar where we had a wonderful meal.
The wedding cake was adorned by a Belleek china bride & groom and the groom's cake was in the shape of a pint of Guinness!
The best man's speech had us laughing until the tears rolled down our cheeks!
Following the dinner, we were taken back to Owen's pub to dance the night away!
Thursday morning, it was back to being a bit dreary. Maud wanted to hear all about the wedding over breakfast and was thrilled that the weather had been so beautiful for the big day. After breakfast, most of us took a nap except BJ who took the 1.25 mile walk into town to get some exercise. We met the other Americans at the Alexander Arms. Keith, the best man, picked us up in a van to take us on a tour of the region.
After a scenic morning drive, we made a stop for lunch on the coast where the Rathlin Island Ferry departs. We were disappointed to find Morton's Fish & Chip shop closed, but we found a little coffee shop where some of us burned our tongues on cappuccino or hot chocolate!
Our next stop on the tour was at the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. Swinging 100 feet above the sea, made up of planks strung between wires, the bridge spans a 60 foot chasm to the island of Carrick-a-Rede.
The walk across the bridge is across the mouth of an ancient volcano. We nervously gingerly made our way across to the island and back and were rewarded with spectacular views.
We enjoyed a bowl of soup at the visitor's center Tea Room.
We didn't understand the red and yellow flags on the hill around the causeway until we read the sign telling us that it was art. A display called "FLAGS" by internationally acclaimed German artist Hans Peter Kuhn. There's even an app that you can download to your smart phone which provides content, video & sound while you look at the flags. (We still don't really understand it.)
Our next stop was at the Bushmill's Inn next to the Bushmill Distillery.
It was a quaint little place for a drink before we would head back to Limavady. When we walked in, the bartender told us to "have a wee seat" and he would bring us a drink! It just happened to be Arthur's Day (Arthur Guinness' birthday), so BJ celebrated by having a Guinness!
The Inn had a neat little library upstairs with a secret room behind the bookcase.
After the tour, we returned to Limavady for our final meal with the group at The Classic next door to Owen's Pub.
Friday, it was time for us to say goodbye to Maud and our friends.
We walked the wall around the city, stopping at the Verbal Arts Centre for a cappuccino and to use the free wi-fi.
We saw St. Columb's Cathedral, peeked into St. Augustine's Church, and saw St. Eugene's Cathedral in the distance behind the large wall murals depicting the strife.
We hiked down from the wall to see Rossville Street and the murals along the street.
We stopped at the Bloody Sunday memorial and while we were reading about it, some boys set off a fire cracker next to it, causing us to jump and giving us an eerie feeling that the strife might not really be over.
We were just finishing our walk around the wall when it started to rain so we headed back to the car and, once we figured out how to pay for our parking, started on our way.
We witnessed a bit of an Irish traffic jam on our walk.
We had lunch of soup and fries at Gibney's pub while we watch soccer and golf, and then took the long walk back to the hotel.
The Hilton offered a shuttle to take us into Malahide for dinner and the driver recommended The Orchid Chinese restaurant. They had a great 3 course special menu available until 8PM for
BJ and Tony