Wedding Bells and Sheep

Posted on 21 April 2011

Shown: My cousin Roy, father of the bride and behind him is his father, my Uncle Joseph.

Above: My mother with the bride and groom, followed by a picture of me, posing with my mother and two of her sisters.

(I can’t seem to align pictures and text so this blog is all over the place.)

I’ve been in Northern Ireland over a week now. I feel as if I’m in a rural oasis, farm country, a walking distance from where my mother was born. It truly is beautiful, though isolated, and anywhere I want to go, I have to be driven though my cousins and aunts are more than willing to drive me.

I wake to the sound of baas – the sheep are multiplying like crazy and the field behind the house is full of lambs, calling for their mothers. Gary, my cousin’s son, paints a number on the mother and her babies so he knows who belongs to who although the sheep know their own by smell.

The other night I watched one being born. Gary reached into its backside and pulled the little one out – for this particular sheep, the baby was large and had no brothers or sisters. The process seemed painless and easy for the mother. After 24 hours in a single pen, she and her lamb are let out of the enclosure and allowed to mingle with other mothers and lambs in the field. The babies are so damn cute, prancing around playing with the other little lambs. In around 15 weeks the first will be sold for someone’s dinner. I’m having a bit of a hard time with that. Will I ever be able to enjoy lamb again?

Monday, I went to my cousin’s daughter’s wedding in a small church down the road. This is the first family wedding I’ve attended in Northern Ireland and was curious about the ceremony and the rituals. The bride is a lovely young woman, only daughter with five brothers of my first cousin Roy. She was late by half a hour and the jokes were flying round that she’d changed her mind. When the ceremony began, it was short and sweet and soon we were all in cars, heading to the reception in Ballymena, a forty five minute drive away in a country club or spa – in “The Great Hall” – set amid glorious lawns and flower beds with a river below. The feast was amazing (five courses), and the day and evening disappeared. I had a great time with all my cousins and after the meal, I had more fun dancing with them.

I’m not on my own computer and this one is jumping around and driving me crazy so I will close here and hopefully write a more detailed and reflective blog when I return home Easter Monday.

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