"She said her statue of the little Child of Prague, who will have to stand outside in the garden soon to bring good weather, was beheaded by some fall in the past."Cathy Bartholomew / Irish Voice

She was 20 years old and in her bed asleep when the three island men called to the Connemara family home about 70 years ago now. They came to arrange a match between one of them and herself. The intended husband was 42 years old.

When she was called upon she got up from her pillow and joined the matchmaking company, and speedily enough the match was made. She had never seen the husband before.

When they got married soon afterwards there was the traditional Child of Prague little alloy statue in the garden outside the previous night for good weather for the day and good luck for the years ahead.

When they went out to the island she knew, as tradition demanded, that she would not be able to return home for at least a month. They were welcomed to the island by music and drink and boisterous straw boys.

There was great craic all day until, as she put it, there came the time to go to bed. "I just turned my face to the wall.”

She was very lonely and lost on the island for two long years until her first child arrived. After that it was better during the years when another nine children were born to her and she became content.

She appeared as one of the mighty Connemara women discussing the customs surrounding the marriages of the past and the present on a compellingly good program on the Irish language TG4 television station the other evening. She is now a hale and hearty 90-year-old great grandmother and, in common with the other articulate women of several generations taking part in the debate, she was generally positive about the outcome of the rural marriages created by the matchmaking process of the past.

Most of them, the women agreed, worked out very well for partners whose expectations were realistic. It was compelling stuff.

Maybe I especially enjoyed the show because my daughter Ciara and I had just returned from a journey to the heartwarming western past represented by the trip to Coney Island off the Sligo coast for the launch of balladeer Mai Hernon's new album The Leaving.

That too was a blast from the past with the island's little pub filled to overflowing with balladeers and great storytellers, the leaves falling like gentle golden rain, the surf white as snow against the long backside of Rosses Point on the mainland and Benbulben's brow somehow resembling the determined head of a bachelor farmer on the prowl for a young hardworking wife.

The debate about the marriages of the old and modern times was compulsive viewing. If the island grandmother was the eldest of them, the youngest participant was a modern young and articulate woman from Moycullen who is getting married soon and making all the modern preparations.

Tellingly, for example, she explained that though she uses both Twitter and Facebook, she did not announce her engagement on social media. She told her family and friends personally.

She and her fiancé are already living together, she said, but he will have to leave their home on the night before the wedding to stay with his own family. And the old Child of Prague will be placed outside that night to bring good weather over them the next morning. And the ritual bonfires will blaze that night and the straw boys will dance as always they have danced.

Another lady, a hotel employee, the happy daughter of a "made" match in the past, told how the old superstitions still prevail today. No room in the hotel has 13 in its numerals. There will never be 13 people sitting at the top table.

The families will ensure that the bride and groom, even if both are staying in the hotel, do not meet on the night before the wedding. Much of the rich and rare tapestry of the old superstitions and customs persists.

They talked about the dowries which the brides brought with them to their new homes, often cows and bullocks rather than money, and put those dowries into context. Usually they were used for other family members, perhaps disadvantaged by the arrival of the incoming bride.

It was an economic thing for the greater good of the greater number. The system worked well enough.

And they even added a new facet to my knowledge of the bride, kidnaps, which were not all that rare up until a couple of centuries ago. They happened always, I had believed, when a landless man or a man with no means fell in love with the daughter of a wealthy enough farmer.

According to the harsh concepts of that time, if the landless one could kidnap the girl and keep her with him overnight then she was seen as being "spoiled" even if he had never laid a finger on her and nobody else would marry her, so her family would grudgingly grant permission for their wedding to go ahead.

The Connemara woman, however, said that some of these alleged kidnaps were actually caused by couples who eloped with the young woman having fallen in love with the laboring lad and willing to risk all for love.

The lovely bride-to-be from Moycullen mentioned something else, something small and trivial, which fascinated me altogether.

She said her statue of the little Child of Prague, who will have to stand outside in the garden soon to bring good weather, was beheaded by some fall in the past.

Exactly so, I thought, recollecting that there was a clear design weakness in the hundreds of thousands of fragile golden alloy images of the child which flooded the country in the years after the Eucharistic Congress of the 1930s.

About all of them lost their heads down the years before superglue was invented and all kinds of methods, including putty, were used for largely ineffective and unsightly repair jobs.

Those of you who were Irish-born had such a child in your house too, usually hiding in shame behind Patrick and Bridget and Jude of the Hopeless Cases and even Martin de Porres who was never in the front line of the saints of the house, maybe because his skin was a little darker than those of his blessed neighbors.

Remember that? I bet many of you do for sure.

The Dutch Nation and I were invited to a Clare wedding yesterday. I will enjoy the day immensely at many different levels.