Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Big 30 Bash

I’ve been dreaming about this night for such a long time that I almost felt caught off guard that it had finally arrived. As much preparation as I’ve put into this trip, I just couldn’t believe that it was actually here. Gene & I had written letters back and forth confirming the details of our arrival. And Evelyn, the owner of the B&B, and I had also traded hand-written letters and emails ensuring that all was in place. From Santa Monica I had set-up accommodations for all 15 of us between two different B&B’s and made sure Gene and The Thatch was ready for us crazy Americans to take over his pub.

The combination of getting a late start on leaving Belfast and the travel time it actually takes to get around Ireland made us get to Carrick-on-Shannon much later in the evening than I had hoped and anticipated. This seems to be a common theme so far, but par for the course when you’re traveling with a group of people. So many things were being done behind the scenes (cake, finger food, etc.) that there really wasn’t too much to worry about. I just would have preferred to not rush rush rush from one place to the next and to have some time to relax before the big night.

As it turned out, we had less than an hour to get ready and walk out the door by the time we arrived. Meghan had already stopped by The Thatch to finalize last minute arrangements and said that Gene was decorating the pub and getting things in order there. It was very cute and got us even more excited for everything. Around 9pm, we all rolled in. As we walked in the door, Gene greeted me with a big hug and said, “Ahhh Molly, you’re here. You’re mad, but you’re here.”

Gene did the most amazing job pulling together our birthday party. Steve & I dropped by The Thatch on our honeymoon and had the best night ever partly because there were so few people there. So I was very surprised when the place kept filling up. Gene let us know that he had asked some special friends to drop by to play music, tell stories and teach us how to dance. There were many times when I looked around the pub with a huge smile on my face and the threat of tears to spill over my eyes was constant. I couldn’t imagine my good fortune to have such an incredible evening. Happiness is being in a pub in the middle of nowhere Ireland with 14 friends (and sisters) and having a party put on by complete strangers who want nothing more than to ensure you have nothing but a great evening.

The music was incredible. I’ve listened to live music in probably 5-6 different places around Ireland and what I hear at The Thatch is far and away the best traditional Irish music. Gene’s simply amazing. He plays at least four different instruments, sings, dances and talks to the crowd. And he attracts some of the best musicians to join him for the music sessions. I was able to catch some of the music on video, and I’m so grateful that I can listen to it anytime I want. Next up was the dancing, which was very fun. Meghan and I, dance partners, were a complete disaster. Neither one of us has much rhythm and we’re not the greatest at listening. But we still managed to laugh a lot and get in some dancing. In my attempt in college to be even more Irish than I am, I tried to take ceili dance lessons with one of my favorite college professors and I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t remember the steps. I was too self-conscious. I so wanted to be a little Irish step dancer, but it wasn’t in my cards. This was also confirmed for me at The Thatch, but it was still incredibly fun! Next up was the story telling. An older man, Jim, came up and told us a few stories. Irish people are very good story tellers and this man was no exception.

The company was so easy and fun to be around. The drinks were fantastic. The music was incredible. And the location- well, you just couldn’t top it. I know that the night will go down as one of the best I’ve ever had in my life.
I was almost in tears tonight as I left The Thatch in Carrick-on-Shannon. Depressed at the thought of our night ending, I tried to hold onto it for as long as I could. (My wedding night was the only other time in my life I’ve felt this way). 14 amazing people traveled to Ireland to help me and my twin, Katie, and our friend Lynn, celebrate our 30th birthday and it was a night I just didn’t want to end. I was hoping that the night would go on for much longer than it did. But after a group shot with the birthday t-shirts, we were shooed out of the bar. Gene started yelling “head for the hills.” Which has basically become the saddest phrase in my language. Ever. Although we begged, tried to talk to Gene’s new girlfriend (who wasn’t around two years ago when I was last at The Thatch) and suggested that Gene just close the curtains and turn the outside lights off (like he did when Steve and I were there for our honeymoon), nothing worked and we slowly and reluctantly made our way outside the pub, talked for a few minutes more before going to our separate B&B’s and then finally started the short walk across the street to go to bed.

I’ll never forget tonight. Never forget the friends and family that traveled so far to make our 30th birthday so memorable or the effort Gene put into hosting the best birthday party ever.

Favorite shots from the night are below:


Anonymous,  October 27, 2008 at 9:45 AM  

Happy Birthday, Balls! Sounds like you had an amazing time - can't wait to see the rest of the photos.


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