There was fierce excitement across Ireland on Sunday afternoon. The European Championship were upon us. The Republic of Ireland soccer team had finally qualified after many years.  

As we drove home from Co. Galway on Sunday cars zipped by us on the new Galway/Limerick motorway with Irish flags poking out passenger windows. The country had Euro soccer fever.

Every second person we passed on the street wore an Irish jersey, and the impending game against Croatia at 7:45 p.m. that evening dominated all conversations.

“Will you watch the big game tonight?” asked a man getting gas beside me in a little place called Kilcolgan outside Galway city.

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” I replied.

“We should take the Croatians,” he said confidently.  Boy was he wrong!

The buzz on Sunday afternoon was quickly replaced with upset and disgust.

People emptied out of the bars even before the match was over. Croatia hammered us 3-1 and we didn’t take it too well.

“That f***ing Italian fella hasn’t a clue how to play the game,” cursed one of my husband John’s friends over the phone on Sunday evening.   He never was a big fan of the Irish manager Giovanni Trapattoni.

“He made stupid calls with the players and has messed up our chances of any kind of win now.”

On Monday morning people were full of gloom. The Irish team’s participation in the Euros had given the country something to look forward to.

Talk of the recession was put on the back burner. People whose mortgages are in arrears forgot about it for the few days leading up to the first game in Poland.

Some friends of ours had booked Monday off work in the hope they would be fighting off a celebratory hangover. The lads said Croatia was our easiest game in this group, so Ireland’s loss on Sunday was a huge blow to our chances of qualifying out of the group at all.

They have two games left, against Spain and Italy. The soccer experts on the television are saying forget it, the Irish team will be back home in a matter of days.

We have some friends who have gone over to Poland, rented camper vans and are enjoying the buzz of the Euros. They too were gutted when Ireland lost on Sunday.

It’s a pity really. It was a nice feeling to see everyone so happy, to see the comradeship between all.

Kerry lost to Cork in the Munster Senior Football Championship earlier in the day.  There was great rivalry, as there always is, at the stadium in Cork, but minutes after it came to an end fans from both counties joined forces in a local bar to all cheer on Ireland.

We definitely moved back on Ireland at the right time – for those of you who aren’t a regular reader of this column, my husband, John, and I along with our two kids, Colum (18-months) and Sadie (3-months) left New York three weeks ago after nine years in the U.S. 

We arrived home to wonderful weather, fantastic friends and a country full to giddiness for the Euros.

Despite Ireland (and Kerry) losing on Sunday it didn’t dampen our spirits. The previous Friday John’s first cousin and best friend Eoin Markham married the beautiful Louise Greensmith (both from Limerick) at 1:30 p.m. in a quaint church in Barna, Co. Galway.  John was Eoin’s best man.

Irish weddings are fantastic, aren’t they? We had a ball from the minute the day began.

It’s customary for the ladies in Ireland to get extremely dolled up for an Irish wedding. My American friends think we go way overboard (and we probably do) but it’s all a bit of fun.

The day started off with a wash and blow-dry for some of the girls and I. Then off to Brown Thomas department store for a make-up session.

Back to the Galway Bay Hotel in Salthill for a check on the fake tan (that was applied the night before), on with the glamorous dress, a quick touch up on the makeup, a final look in the mirror and off to the church we went.

I had the pleasure of driving John and the groom, Eoin, to the church. Both men were very nervous, John about his speech and Eoin about the excitement of the day ahead.

Father Tom, a local Limerick priest and friend of the Markham family, came up to officiate the wedding, and what a beautiful bilingual (Irish-English) ceremony it was. It rained heavy earlier in the morning but by the time the bride arrived at the church the rain subsided and it stayed away for the rest of the day.

Several pictures later we began the celebrations at the cocktail reception back at the hotel. An ice-cream stand and champagne bar went down a treat. It got everyone in the party mood.

A sweets table, an amazing band, flip flops and hula hoops and amazing food sealed the deal.

verything was top notch, but it was the sing song that started after the disco at 2 a.m. that made the night a truly memorable one.

I made my excuses sometime between 3-3:30 a.m., and the singers were in full swing.

Eoin and Louise had their first dance on the helipad of the hotel a little after 10 p.m. Although it was bright outside, it was very romantic and a moment in their lives they will remember forever.

It’s great to be home. We kept saying it over the weekend.  Being able to participate in this wonderful celebration with family is really priceless.

My mother had the kids until Saturday. They came to Galway to us that evening. We took advantage of the fantastic weather and spent some time Saturday evening (before a barbeque organized by the bride and groom) and Sunday morning walking along the promenade.

Galway was really buzzing. Young people gathered all along Salthill to hear British band Mumford and Sons perform in a nearby stadium.

Grandparents bought their grandkids ice cream on the promenade. Parents took their kids swimming while young lovers held hands as they overlooked Galway Bay.

I drank it all in. Ireland is so beautiful when the sun is shining.

On Sunday morning we took advantage yet again of the fine weather. A short walk into Salthill town exercised our hangovers, and the kids enjoyed the amusements in a local arcade (and the 99-ice creams).

We were sorry to leave beautiful Galway but promised to return again before the summer is out. It’s a busy week for us again.

John’s uncle, his wife and their kids are visiting from Chicago. They came home for the wedding.

On Monday night John’s wonderful aunt Irenaie cooked up a storm for all the family. Colum played outside in the back garden with all his little cousins. Sadie was passed from aunt to aunt as John and I enjoyed some delicious food.

We are back to reality for a while now. We have nearly closed on a rental. This will be confirmed later in the week.

Just as we think we have found something suitable something better comes along so it’s all last minute decisions.

I’ve a busy week of work. I’m up and down the country till Saturday interpreting (I’m a sign language interpreter). I enjoy being on the road.

Since Europe gave us all that road money back a few years ago it’s been put to good use, and journeys that would have taken us two hours in the past are now only an hour and a half. It’s fantastic.
The kids, or the Yanks as their cousins call them, are settling in well. Sadie really doesn’t know the difference and Colum is having a ball with his family. His favorite word is “out.”

People ask us all the time do we miss New York. The answer is no, not yet anyway.

What we tell them is we don’t miss New York but we do miss our friends terribly. We are still in our honeymoon phase in Ireland I guess, but so far it’s the best honeymoon I’ve ever been on.

Colum Mooney and cousinsApril Drew