Kevin and I were fortunate enough to attend the wedding of Matt and Renee Allaire in Ireland, along with Don Thomas, his son Kevin, and Matt and Renee’s kids.  The wedding was held at the Royal Cork Yacht Club beautifully adorned with Renee’s decorations she sent over from the states ahead of time.  The bride looked absolutely stunning and the groom looked dashing in his kilt.  The ceremony included many Irish customs.   The reception was held at the beautiful Crosshaven House mansion where we were all lodged.  Because of the cancellation of all other guests, we had the place all to ourselves!  The owner’s friend is a caterer, and she provided a fabulous dinner for all of us and we all enjoyed the delicious wedding cake while enjoying sprits.  In a time of such uncertainty, we were certainly grateful to be a part of this amazing event and to have each other.

So, what was Ireland like while we were there?  The first few days were normal, pubs and restaurants were open and busy, people were out and about on the streets, and hotels were open and taking care of their guests.   While sitting in a pub in Kinsale on March 15th, we were informed that the pubs and restaurants were closing up the following day. Kevin definitely made the most of it that night with pints of Guinness and tastings of Irish Whiskey.   Sadly, on Monday, March 16th, we witnessed the closure of pubs (yes, pubs in Ireland were closed!) along with restaurants.  Many  hotels and B&B’s were canceling reservations (including one of ours), and airlines were canceling their flights.  The food on the shelves of the grocery stores were abundant and there was no hoarding or lines of people waiting to shop.   There was plenty of toilet paper! Pharmacies only allowed three people inside at a time.  Buses were empty and there was talk that public transportation was going to soon shut down.  The tourist attractions were closed, but we were able to view the castles from the outside.  Papa John’s and Subway remained open.  The locals kept their respectful distance and took the social distancing very seriously.  Notwithstanding, we still found many friendly and accommodating locals.   One man approached us in Kilkenny and told us he didn’t like this “antisocial” distancing and wanted us to know that his country and people are usually very friendly and to come back and experience it at a later time.   Another bar owner (of the oldest bar in Kilkenny established in 1582), saw us peeking into the windows and opened up the pub so we could come inside and tour it and provided us with a short history lesson of the pub and area.   There was virtually no traffic on the streets.  The airports in Dublin and LAX were empty and the processes we went through were easy and smooth.  Our flight from Dublin had maybe 30 people on it and everyone was well spread out.   We were asked to fill out a form describing our location for the last two weeks and whether we had any symptoms of sickness.  As we disembarked, we were screened by Customs and Border Protection agents going over the form and confirming we did not have any symptoms of illness.  It took us 90 minutes from the time we landed to get our bags and get home to Dana Point – definitely a new record!

We have been moved by the numerous calls, texts and emails from friends and family asking about our well being.  And a special thank you to Pam Northcott who was gracious enough to get us some supplies to fill our empty refrigerator.   Thank you Pam!

While I adore Ireland and was disappointed our trip was cut short, it made me remember how important family, friends and country are to me.   I am happy to be home to live out this quarantine and whatever else is thrown our way knowing we have our family and friends by our side.

Stay safe and healthy, my friends.  If you need anything, please let me or Kevin know and we will do what we can to help our DWYC family.

Hydee Riggs, Vice Commdore