Saturday 24 July 2010

No water, no minerals, just lashing of love and humanity!


My friend is disappearing into a hole in the ground. 
“Pass me the empty bottle of Coke now Charlie!”

A few minutes earlier we’d been standing in the sunshine, chatting with his wife by a stone wall by a field in north Mayo, when a young fella came up and whispered something into my friend’s ear.

He looks over to his wife, both of whom have worked for a month to help organise this wedding.
“There no water left. No water and no minerals. All the dishes have emptied the well.”

“Well, we did three courses for 70, so that’s 210 dishes, and that’s a lot of water.”

No water and no minerals. 
Only alcohol then. 
Classic stuff. Great for the grown-ups, but what about the chil--

“Ah now, there’s another well just down the way there. I’ll go down now and draw some water.”
“I’ll come with you” says I, ever eager to do manly primal things. Bring water ug.

The Londoner in me expects to see a Hans Christian Andersen wishing well, but instead there’s an old pallet which we lift from the grass. 

He dives in head first, enthusiastically grabbing great handfuls of grasses and weeds which he scoops out, only then to assuage my doubts and thirst by producing bottles of clear-(ish) water from the hole in the ground. 

The well. 

Three older locals meet us on the way back to the farm and as soon as they find out the water came from the lower well, they raise the bottles to their lips, as if in eucharistic ecstasy.

“Now that is beautiful water. Didn't it keep our families alive not so long ago.”

The bride and groom have travelled all the way from their home in the Far East back to the village where I used to live in north Mayo, to celebrate their wedding with the groom’s family.

As if the great distance is not reason enough for emotion and love to run amok, there is also a tragic illness for the courageous couple to live with, and as the horse-drawn carriage takes the bride to the family home, I feel all passionate and think to myself ‘Ah, that’s Killala at its best.’

Several hours later, I’ve gone past the ‘Killala at its best’ stage, straight on through the ‘This is the Irish at their best’ phase and settled finally and certainly for 

‘This is the human race at its best.’

Admittedly by then I am ver’ ver’ drunk, but I know what I’ve seen, and I know what it means. 

All the walls around the farm have been whitewashed; the garden has been cleared and planted; the barn has been transformed from ... from, well, from a barn, into a wedding fantasy land, with thousands of metallic twirly doodads hanging from the ceiling, a thousand tea lights lit and bails of hay lining the walls to reassure our spirits that we haven’t all lost the plot. 

A pair of giant love hearts are mowed into the lawn, where the children’s swing has been wrapped with freshly twined leaf and summer flowers, so that poems and blessings can be exchanged under them  


There has been no ‘wedding organiser’. Nobody has been paid a penny. This is people acting out of love, friendship and community. There have been no caterers ‘In’, just neighbours and sons and daughters of friends who have worked their fantastic arses off creating a beautiful wedding, alongside having cooked, served and cleaned up a sit-down 3 course meal for 70 hungry punters in the barn

And then the well ran dry.

As the day drifts into evening we all drift back into the barn, to drink and dance and be entertained by the youngest lads, who climb bales of hay and delight us with their crazy belly-rippling dances, as 70s disco divas pump from the sound system.

Water has now arrived, but for me the day was made in that pure country moment:

No water, no minerals. 
Ah so, that’s the way it’ll be then.

And then again, I didn’t really need any alcohol.
Drunk on humanity, just for a few hours. Oh boy it did me good.

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