If a couple decides to have an almost secret marriage - far from home and with no or only few guests - that's when you speak of an Elopement.
Of course the word is not to be taken literally here. An Elopement is rather a great way of having a very intimate and individual wedding, making the whole thing very personal and unique. And so did Melissa and Chad - two lovely "Urban Hippies" from Columbus, Ohio.
Inis Mór (Irish for "big island") is roughly 20km off the coast of County Clare (and about 5,500km from Ohio). It's the biggest of the Aran Islands and has a population of about 800. The island is famous for it's more than 50 Pre-Christian and Christian ancient sites and considered a center of Irish-Celtic culture and home to countless myths and stories. And last but not least it is also the home of Dara Molloy.
Dara is free celebrant, Celtic priest, state-registered Solemniser and sort-of an Inishmore tourguide. As if on a wild journey through Celtic and early Christian traditions Dara leads through weddings with rituals like handfasting or the honour to the elements of mother earth - and of course also legally binding if you wish.
Melissa's and Chad's wedding day starts off with storm and rain. Therefore my passage from Rossaveel (Ros a'Mhil) in the morning isn't a pleasure for everyone on board. While the "Draiocht na Farraige" bravely fights the high waves, numerous passengers seem to need some fresh air - despite the wind and the rain on the outside. As we safely arrive in the harbour of Kilronan many could be in a better state. But at least we are all awake.
I meet with Melissa and Chad at the Aran Island Hotel for their Getting Ready. We're in no hurry and spend our time waiting by the fireplace in the bar for the weather to clear up. For the ceremony we move on to the Teampall Chiaráin, the ruins of an old monastery from the 12th century. That's where the unique and intimate ceremony begins.
Later that day, at the westernmost point of the island, all is covered in evening light and Melissa and Chad are overlooking the ocean. Suddenly they spot a pair of beady eyes in the water, watching them curiously. Slowly a second pair appears. It's a seal couple, keeping them company and wishing them luck.
With the photos of this "Wild Atlantic Wedding" I wish all of you out there a Merry Christmas and a good start for 2016!
Aran Island Hotel & An Sibin Bar // Kilronan, Inishmore (Aran Islands) // Co. Galway, Ireland
+353-99-61104 // // www.aranislandshotel.com
Dara Molloy, Celtic Priest // An Charraig Mainistar, Inishmore (Aran Islands) // Co. Galway, Ireland
+353-99-61245 // // www.daramolloy.com