Wife Carrying Antics in Kerry!

What a weekend!! Participated in Ireland’s FIRST Wife Carrying Competition in Sneem, Co. Kerry as part of the Annual Sneem Summer Festival. When my friend Paul and I drove through Sneem last weekend on our way down to Caherdaniel, we saw the poster in the town and burst out laughing! Reading the details, we knew that we HAD to get involved for the sheer fun factor!

The wife to be carried may be your own, the neighbour’s or she may have been found farther afield; she must, however be over 18 years of age and be a minimum weight of 49 kilos. If she weighs less, she will be handicapped with a loaded rucksack to reach the minimum weight. The winner is the couple who completes the course in the shortest time. If a contestant drops the wife, the couple will be given a 15 seconds time penalty per drop.

Priceless!!! So we spread the words to our friends and this weekend we were all set to go!! We discussed the different holding techniques and even had a trial run on the beach in Carroll’s Cove after the pub on Friday night!

Practicing the holding positions on Carrolls Cove beach, Caherdaniel, Co. Kerry

Practicing the holding positions on Carrolls Cove beach, Caherdaniel, Co. Kerry

And what could possibly make this event funnier?! Well, to dress up of course!!! I always have my Mum’s old wedding dress to hand for such occasions and Paul my partner in crime randomly had his tux down in Kerry too!! So, we were going to be the wedding couple, for the wife carrying!

Saturday morning came much too quickly after a very late one on Friday and Mick suggested I “freshen myself up abit” before the big event!! Not to be outdone in the costumes, Mick wanted to get togged out too. But what will you wear, I exclaimed?! “Easy!” says Mick, “get me a dress…I’LL be the Wife!” Somehow Mick managed to wrestle his way into a size 10 slip dress and finished off the ensemble with a bow in his hair! Kate duly had to be the man, so we found her a collared top and a white tie (borrowed from the lovely John from the band Ian I. Brow who were the weekends entertainment!)

We arrived in Sneem just after 4pm when the event was due to kick off and certainly got some funny looks from passersby as we walked proudly through the town decked out in our fabulous wedding outfits! (espcially with Mick in full women’s make up!)

Decked out for the Wife Carrying Competition in Sneem

Decked out for the Wife Carrying Competition in Sneem. Photo Credit: Peter Sweeney

We arrived down to the event to the shock and surprise of the organisers, everyone there was looking at us and couldn’t help laughing! Cameras were brought out and it really was like a real wedding day, the amount of shots we had to pose for!! One of the press photographers wanted us to do a staged shot so the boys duly hoisted us on their backs as the photographer led us to the water obstacle! “Plenty of movement!” he says…..well he had no bother with that – the man-made pool was lined with blue plastic and was unbelieveably slippy! Poor Paul in his bare feet slit into the pool and nearly drowned me in the first go! We were saturated even before the event started, but we were having a ball and were really getting into it.

Splash down for the Water Obstacle

Splash down for the Water Obstacle

We went to the caravan to register and enter, and the organisers asked us if we would race each other for the first race to kick off the whole thing. So, we strapped on the helmets and the lads threw us over their shoulders at the start line. …….And, they’re OFF!!! We were neck in neck for – lets face it, about 2 seconds, Mick and Kate barrelled past Paul and I heading towards the first obstacle. Poor Paul was being crushed under the weight of me and screamed at me to hold on! ( I kept looking up, wanting to know what was going on and trying to pose for photos with my arms in the air!) Michael took a wrong turn at the water obstacle and went into it the wrong way and practically walked the end of the course when he realised that Paul and I were so far behind them. Delighted and exhasted we finished the course and flopped down on the matress at the finish line. An RTE radio reporter pressed a mic into our faces and we breathlessly told them how we came about doing the race and why we dressed up. “Why not?!” says Mick, “sher this is my usual Saturday outfit!”

Being interviewed for RTE Radio

Being interviewed for RTE Radio

We waited for our times. 2:05 and 2:08 respectively. HOWEVER, because Michael went around the water obstacle the wrong way, they tacked on a 15 second penalty so me and Paul actually beat them!! Happy days!! Poor Paul could barely talk after lugging me around the 253.5 meter long course, but we were all smiles, happy that we had completed it and had a roaring good time too!!

We soaked the rest of what the festival had to offer then, watching the crate building competition and browsing around the stalls, eating homemade ice cream and giant choc chip cookies. Decided that a go on the GIANT inflatable slide (erected by Munster Fun) would really complete the day.

The wedding couples take a slide
We all fall DOWN!!

We all fall DOWN!!

The wedding couples take a slide
The organisers offered us to have another go at the course as we were really used as the ‘dummy’ couples at the start and Mick and Kate took them up on their offer, so back to the course to compete again. They had a time of 1:28 to beat. Mick did an incredible job of running the course with little Kate over his shoulder and the determination on his face was incredible! They tore around the course, the timekeepers barely able to keep up with them, but alas stumbled on the homeward hurdle and dropped Kate. She hopped back up and they finished the course in an incredible 1:19 seconds! Alas, the 15 second penalty applied because he dropped her so they were back to 2nd place.
Mick, the Wife Carrying Hero!

Mick, the Wife Carrying Hero!

At this stage Mick was seriously imaginging himself representing his country in Finland and suggested going again. The guy was exhausted, but pushed himself to the limit! The organisers wanted as many people as possible to do the course and allowed everyone do it as many times as they were physically able!! Michael and Kate were the only ones to do it more than one…and ended up running it 3 times!!
For the last race of the day, it was set to be Mick and Kate alone just against the clock. It was tense and we were all spurring Michael on with images of Finland and the whole gang of us going to support them. He was determined to do it. Kate admitted she was nervous though all she had to do was hold on!!! As they got their helmets on and readied themselves for the final push, who arrived but John Lar. John is known to us all as a tank of a man, big into the rowing and does boat trips to the Skelligs. His ‘wife’ was Aoife Desmond, a local girl to Caherdaniel and as light as a feather. The rules were explained to them and helmets were strapped on. Mick and Kate now had competition. And stiff competition at that!!
They ran the race practically neck and neck and the excitement was palpable – down the first stretch, John having won the coin toss was on the inside and rounded the corner tightly. Over the first obstacle, Johns long legs easily propelling him over it and slightly ahead of Mick and Kate. But Mick didn’t give up. He tore on towards the water obstacle and once again they were next to each other in the water. Mick’s face was set in steely determination but there was no letting up for John. He practically flew over the last obstacle and was ahead for the home stretch. We knew it was over but couldn’t believe it! Mick had run the course 3 times and made and incredible effort. The final times were 1:12 for John and Aoife and 1:14 for Mick and Kate. Unbelieveable!
Clambering over the Dry Obstacle

Clambering over the Dry Obstacle

It was a brilliant race, very tightly fought and while we were disappointed for Mick, it was good to see it going to someone that we know. Up to the podium for the prize-giving and the poor MC didn’t know who to give the bouquet of flowers to – Mick or Kate! 😉
Top 3 contestants on the Podium

Top 3 contestants on the Podium

And – to top it all off……….we made the paper! News of the World on Sunday, The Sun, The Star AND The Examiner on Monday and even were featured in the METRO in Dublin! Also heard the soundbite from our interview on Morning Ireland and Will Leahy’s show on 2fm!
Congratulations to John and Aoife – go Ireland!! Finland won’t know what hit it, with an influx of Kerry people next year at the World Championships!!
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One Response to “Wife Carrying Antics in Kerry!”

  1. pablito Says:

    heh heh!
    great post sis.. sounds like a quality day! nice work with the blog an all..

    love paul

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