It is exactly one week ago that I was at the wedding of Fiona and Lee. Two people I know not very well. But two people whom I’m very proud to have been on the wedding guest list of. You see, I used to be Fiona’s childminder, many many years ago…well not that many, just 23+!!!! Yes, even I’ve lost count!!
My husband and I left Shannon in Co. Clare in December 1992. We had got married earlier that year and decided to head home to Donegal to spend time with our parents (we had a little boy of 18 months). Family was, and still is, very important to me, and I wanted my little boy to spend time with his grandparents. I often thought of Shannon, Fiona and her family, and contemplated moving back there a number of times. It was our first ‘home’ and it will always be special to us.
Fiona was around 3 years old (I think) at the time we left.
We left Shannon (with tears) and our our new life back home began. That seems a lifetime ago now. But now, my family is one of 5. Three grown sons and just one left at home. Donegal has been good to us, but Shannon is always in my heart.
A number of years ago I connected with Fiona’s big sis, Eibhlin, on Facebook. It was so lovely to be back in touch with the little blonde girl I was so very fond of during my time in Shannon. We met for coffee in Derry a number of years ago, and it really felt like I’d known her all my life. I had also connected with Fiona on Facebook and had watched her growing into a beautiful young lady. I knew she was a hairdresser and that she had met a young man called Lee. Then I followed her as she became a mother to the beautiful Sophia. As Sophia grew and Fiona posted photos of her, I could only see the little girl (Fiona) that I used to mind. It was uncanny.
Last August my husband and I travelled to Cork to visit my husbands family. We decided on our return journey to visit Shannon for a night. I contacted Fiona and arranged to meet with her, her fiancé Lee and their now 3 children (Sophia, Seanie and Dáire). We arrived in Shannon, and later that day Fiona and her family came to meet us. I hadn’t seen this girl since she was a toddler.
When we met that evening, it really did feel special. It was as if I was meeting a piece of my extended family. All 5 of them were equally special. And little Sophia just stole my heart (reminding me so much of her mother, and yet being her own wee self).
Lee was a lovely young man, and it was clear this couple were very much in love. Later that night, Lee, Fiona and Fiona’s parents (Eugene and Cathy) came along to the hotel bar for a few drinks with us. That really was a trip down memory lane. Fiona’s parents were so very good to me and my
husband all those years ago, and we have never forgotten it. Words will never explain or describe what they did for me when my eldest son was born. I’ll never be able to thank them for their generosity and kindness back then.
However the flying visit came to an end. It was special in so many ways. Leaving Shannon the following day was very emotional for me. I visited the chapel in which I was married, and I visited the houses in which we lived. One of those was my first home with my husband and our young son. That will always make Shannon special. We arranged to keep in touch with Fiona and definitely meet up in the future.
Earlier this year I got a wedding invitation in the post. It was from Fiona and Lee. I was bowled over. I was chuffed to bits. I felt honoured. I immediately went online and booked the wedding hotel for the night of the wedding. My husband and I were going. This was one wedding I wasn’t going to miss.
Last Friday morning we travelled to Shannon once more. At around 1pm we pulled into the hotel carpark. I was immediately awash with emotion. It felt like we had come home. Everything looked familiar.
At 5pm that evening we met with the wedding party and from there on the night was memorable from start to finish. The beautiful bride and groom arrived shortly after and a most wonderful and beautiful wedding evening/night followed. A fabulous meal, super speeches and then pretty cool music all followed. We sat at a table with folks we didn’t know. And yet from the outset I knew faces. I know ‘him’ from somewhere’. ‘Her’ face is familiar. As the night wore on, we did indeed know those faces. They were faces we had known all those years ago when we lived in Shannon. And as we got chatting, I really did feel I had come home. And one special young lady was introduced to us. She is Mags. And Mags is by far the best dancer I have ever seen on the dance floor.
Fiona and Lee were the most humble of hosts on their wedding day. I watched as they both moved among their guests and spoke to EVERY ONE of them. They took time to have photos taken with everyone. And nothing was a bother to them.
Someone asked me during the week, “how did the Shannon wedding go?” I simply replied, “one of the loveliest I have ever been at. I knew very few people and yet I had the most amazing day.” Every word was true.
Although Fiona was a stunning bride, her daughter Sophia stole the day for me. She is just the little girl I remember her mother being all those years ago. Sophia doesn’t know me, and yet every time I stopped to talk with her, she humbly obliged. A true star, just like her mother.
A whole week has passed and still I’m thinking on last Friday and all that it meant to me. Fiona allowed me to go back to the town where I first made a home with my now husband. To the town where my (our) eldest son was born. The town where I made very special friends in. The town which will always hold a little piece of my heart. Fiona, I can never thank you enough.
So as this Friday comes to a close, I am reminiscing on one week ago. I’m reminiscing on 25+ years ago. The time my wee family started out. And how wonderful to know that Fiona and her family are still very much part of mine.
Here’s wishing Fiona, her lovely husband Lee, and their 3 beautiful children, the happiest of lives today, tomorrow and for all time. Lots of love to you all.
From me, to you: “Live well, Laugh often, Love always.” I know you will do all three.