Wife Carrying Antics in Kerry!

July 29, 2008

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 neighbourโ€™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! ๐Ÿ˜‰
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!!

CGI Genius!

July 21, 2008

Had heard nothing about the new Pixar movie when my Dad mentioned that he’d like to go see it today, and had no idea when to expect when we sat in the darkness of the cinema and waited for WALL.E to start this evening.

The film is centered around a Robot character, named WALL.E (pronounced Wally) who is the only surviving robot left on earth after the humans have evacuated to a space cruise ship when the earth became covered in waste. WALL.E’s directive is to clean up the rubbish by compacting it to small cubes and stacking them on top of one another. 700 years later, a second robot named EVE comes down from space on a reconnaissance mission to evaluate whether or not earth can sustain life. Her directive is to scan the land to find any living plants. The plot unfolds as the 2 meet and WALL.E falls in love with EVE. As a cold, clinical robot EVE is preoccupied with getting the plant organism that WALL.E has found, back to the cruise ship but gradually, she breaks free from her “directive” and begins to fall for WALL.E too.

The incredible thing about this movie is Pixars ability to personify inanimate objects, such as robots and machines. There is very little dialogue and the robots really are only able to communicate through their eyes and gestures….but nevertheless, you still really FEEL for them. Human emotions of love, fear, humour and loneliness are all depicted in this movie through mechanical robots and it is incredible to watch on screen and really believe in them.

It is a visually stunning movie and Pixar have done for Robots in space what they did for Nemo underwater. Go see it and see for yourself. I challenge you not to fall for these little robots! ๐Ÿ™‚

Oxegen ROCKED AGAIN!

July 17, 2008

The greatest weekend of music that Ireland will see this year is all over and done with and kicked off my festival summer to perfection!!

My personal mantra being “full price is for fools”, we decided to head up to Punchestown on the Friday armed with coloured TYVEK wristbands ordered from eBay and cheeky grins! Despite last years ingenious creation of a blue armband from a pair of random boys boxer-short-elastic, our home made bands didn’t cut the mustard this year and although I got through the first 3 layers of security, got booted out on the 4th layer and we were back to sqaure one.ย  Sarah attempted to haggle with the official ticketmaster booth while I went scouting for touts. You can pick them out as when all the other festival-goers were marching straight up hill to get into the venue, the touts are the ones ambling lengthways across the field looking dodgily from side-to-side to offload tickets. Through a stroke of luck or genius, I managed to get talking to a random dude from New York who was working at the festival but was ‘on his break’ and happened to have a few genuine festival wristbands in his pocket! I sweet talked him out of 2, and we were fully branded/banded for the entire weekend! Full camping bands! Nice!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Gave the guy 50 squids and praised him for his entrepreneurial spirit and off we jaunted into the main arena!

We were ecstatic to be in and had a quick drink before dashing to the Pet Sounds tent to get out of the shower that came out of nowhere. Were front of stage for Aphex Twin, raving with a load of drugged up teens but throughly enjoyed it all the same. Disappointed that he didn’t play Fingerbib, my all time favourite Aphex Twin choon, but Sarah was anxious to get out and see more acts, so we bounced out of there and toddled off to the Main Stage to hear Interpol. Panned out at the back on the grass and met some random dudes who shared their beer with us and danced to “Evil”. When the Interpol set ended we got in position for the highlight of Night 1, which was the KINGS OF LEON!!! As always, they put in a stellar performance but while we rocked out to the Kings, some of the “fans” around us didn’t appreciate our jumping up and down and one eejit of a girl muttered under her breath cursed loudly that we were too rowdy! HELLO?!?! You’re at a CONCERT you fool!!! We literally got pushed by her boyfriend forward into another group of people who weren’t too happy with being crushed, so THEY pushed us even more!! It was a bit chaotic, (what I think pissed them off the most, is that Sarah and I were laughing loudly and paying no heed to them….we were having a ball, was like being in a mosh pit!) We moved slightly to the side so we could actually dance and SEE the stage instead of being battered around the place and hung with a couple of sound guys from northern Ireland, who had plastic milk containers full of white wine! Not exactly Connoisseurs our lads from the north, but then again neither are we…so we promptly had a few swigs and got back into the swing of things for “Fans”. It was my second time seeing The Kings play live and they are INCREDIBLE!!

Day 2 started with us getting fancy-dressed up for the occassion, with scouser/afro wigs and neon pink and blue outfits. I had a Ra-Ra/Tutu skirt and Saz was in a velour short jumpsuit (!!) and we looked ridiculous but fabulous at the same time!!! We certainly put a few smiles on peoples faces throughout the day and got asked to pose for numerous photos, including one for HOT PRESS Magazine! We looked like something out of a throw back from a cheap 80’s workout video (and had the dance moves to prove it!)

Surprise music hightlight was the Ting Tings! They sound so poppy on the radio, but are much harder live, much rockier. We went mental for “Shut Up and Let Me Go” and “That’s not my NAME!” The tent was absolutely PACKED coz just before they came on the heavens opened but the atmosphere in there was electric and they blew us all away!

After all that dancing, we required refreshment and managed to put in a few solid hours in the infamous Bacardi Bar and downed plenty of mojitos for the exorbitant price of โ‚ฌ8.00 for a small glass! ……..Oh, but they were so worth it! ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Counting Crows put in a forgetable performance at the Main Stage but we made lots of new friends as we passed around mini crunchies to our fellow festivalers! Through the ingenious wranglings of my lil bro, we managed to get into the pit before Amy Winehouse came on stage, not knowing what to expect. After all the hype and seeing the “bad kareoke” that she called the Glastonbury performace, I was going more for the spectacle of seeing her than anything else. But boy, did she surprise!! Amy tottered out on stage in un-believably high heels and sipped on what looked like vodka and coke for the set, but was pitch-perfect and really entertained the entire crowd. Being in the pit ment shoulder-climbing was nigh-on impossible, as the security were crawling the place, pulling people down instantly. I tapped one of them on the shoulder when they were near us and asked them for a lift up, but to no avail!! I did get them dancing with us and jived around the pit with one old security dude! The 2 black guys she has doing backing vocals are amazing too and really added to the atmosphere of the show, getting the crowd involved. We had a great time, and was brilliant to see Amy in such close quarters (and not have her throw a punch at us!)

HOT CHIP were one of the highlights for me at Electric Picnic last year and I was really looking forward to seeing them live again at Oxegen. They stole the show for me on Saturday night and there was a big gang of us in the usual spot (front stage left!) so we went wild!!!……”OVER AND OVER, LIKE A MONKEY WITH A MINATURE CYMBAL!” Caught some Justice in the Dance Arena, before The Prodigy finished the night off with a bang, its been 12 years since I saw them last when they supported Oasis is Pairc Ui Caoimh in Cork and gotta say….they still have the energy to headline a major music festival!

Sunday was spectacularly sunny and the old jeans that I bought up to wear, got chopped into shorts for the occassion. With my pink neon leg warmers tucked into my flowery wellies, Sarah said I looked like a German hiker on acid! ๐Ÿ™‚ Caught the Blizzards on the Main Stage and they were superb.ย  They were much further down the bill last year, and I’m looking forward to seeing them headlining one of the tents next year hopefully. lead singer = YUM! It was so sunny, we were just willing him to take his top off!

Was VERY excited about seeing MGMT and they started the set off brill, but had to stop proceedings as people started climbing up onto the tent scaffolding. One lunatic girl climbed up, to much applause and jeering from the crowd, but when she kept going higher and higher I was terrified that she was going to fall to her death. I have no idea how high up she was but it must have been 4 or 5 stories high. She climbed the full way up and managed to TOUCH the canvas of the marquee at the very top!!!!! At this stage, MGMT were off the stage and promoters were imploring people to get down or the band couldn’t come back on stage. Once the brave/foolhardy climber got to the top, she realised she had nowhere else to go…no dramatic ending, she had to simply climb back DOWN! By now, the crowd of MGMT fans had turned on her, realising that they were wasting precious concert-time while she was showing off and they started booing her and throwing plastic bottles and debris up towards her. It was all very dramatic and we were glued to her till she came back down and MGMT were able to come back on stage.

I love the Republic of Loose but had never had the chance to see them live yet, so was determined to get to them on the Sunday, but while they performed well, Mike Pyro the lead singer was pretty obnoxious demanding “Is there anyone out there?!” and “Are ye with us?!” We were rocking our butts off but he seemed to think that all 80,000 people at Oxegen should have been there just to see him. Difference between playing your own gig and a festival Mike!ย  Met my friend Rob who owns an inflatable fat suit (i MUST get pics!) which I put on and Japanese Sumo wrestled a gang of lads in a mosh pit for the Kaiser Chiefs…very funny stuff! One guy put me up on his shoulders wearing the thing and the inflatable boobs came up under my chin!!

Nearly got crushed to death in the mass of men that was the Rage Against the Machine pit but the atmosphere was electric and the build up before Rage came on stage was palpable. After the “Rage” we skipped over to Pet Sounds to catch Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova and they performed beautifully and Glen was as gracious as ever, thanking us all for being there and admitting they were up against some big acts (Chemical Brothers on O2 Stage and RATM on Main Stage) ….he even said if they weren’t playing that they’d be reliving their youth in the pit for Rage! Consumate performers, ‘Falling Slowly’ brought a tear to my eye and Glen also managed a brilliant version of a Van Morrison song.

All in all, an INCREDIBLE weekend, came away exhausted, utterly hoarse and covered in strange bruises/UDI’s (Unidentified Drinking Injuries!). The lineup was too good to be true, and choosing between acts was SO HARD! After my first taste of the festival buzz this year, counting the days till The Picnic!

Great day at OCC BBQ

July 16, 2008

Wow – alot of acronyms there!

Just in the door from the Open Coffee BBQ, and have been inspired by all the enthusiastic bloggers to become more active in writing blog posts. So for all the stuff I don’t feel is relevant (or appropriate!) for my business blog (currently running on http://www.weddingdates.ie), then here’s where I can rant about express myself about the things that matter to me most.

Really enjoyed the day and hats off to Evert Bopp and his lovely wife Kate (who I believe put in a splendid performance on the Gerry Ryan show this morning!) for pulling the whole event together.

I participated in the “Dragon’s Den” section of the day and while it was nerve wracking enough standing up in front of 40 or so people, it was a great experience and the questions were very relevant and thought provoking for me.

Met some really interesting people who gave me great feedback on my wedding website and encouraged me to blog more…..so, thanks to Sabrina Dent for whacking me on the head and making me jump into the deep end!

And just have to mention that Deborah Hadley’s Brownies were to die for!!

If there is anyone that was present today that I didn’t get to chat with personally, or if any of you out there, wake up in the middle of the night with a brainwave for my wedding site….then please feel free to contact me directly or comment below!

Signing off my first blog post!

Thank You and Good Night!