CASTLECONNELL - HOW TO BE THE BEST MAN IN IRELAND
If you’re ever asked to be the Best Man at a wedding in Ireland your major cause of concern will be writing the speech, and managing to do it without causing a major breech in diplomatic relations between Ireland and the United Kingdom. I was told it would be best to steer clear of jokes about sex, religion and politics. In the jolly old UK you’ll find that the best man’s speech usually revolves around the first item on the list. If it’s a middle class wedding then the next two will probably get a mention just to wind up the Daily Mail readers in the audience. If it’s a really, really posh wedding, like Charles and Diana’s, then none of the three will get a mention. Unfortunately I’d never been invited to a really, really posh wedding therefore my experience of a smut-free best man’s speech was very limited. When you get asked to be the best man at a wedding in Ireland that lack of experience becomes a real problem. I went to see ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’, in the hopes that four posh weddings in one sitting might give me some pointers. All it gave me was a deep dislike of Hugh Grant. I phoned up the Foreign Office to see if any of their diplomats knew any jokes that would be acceptable in Ireland. They told me to ‘bugger off’. I even rang up the Vatican to see if His Holiness could give me a papal blessing to tell smutty jokes just on this one occasion. He told me to ‘bugger off’ as well, in Latin.
I had tried to do my research. I’d searched high and low for witty one-liners that avoided the unholy trinity of sex, religion and politics. I didn’t mean to have the bride sobbing and the Holy Father choking on his scone. Apart from the sobbing and the choking my speech was met with jaw-dropping silence. Maybe it was a mistake to start off with the joke about the nymphomaniac nun in the polling booth, and where she put her cross.
Up until that point, at which I was forcibly ejected from the wedding, it had been going quite well. It’s a tradition in Ireland that on the morning of the wedding the groom takes his male friends for a pre-nuptial shave. This is no ordinary swipe with a disposable Bic, but a full-blown shave with swaddling warm towels, snickety-snacking cut-throat razors and slappitty-slaps on the cheeks, all finished off with a large old brandy. This was carried out at a proper barber’s shop in Limerick and took the best part of an hour. I didn’t need to shave again for a week. Apparently they’ll shave anything for a fee; your head, your dog or even your girlfriend.
Castleconnell, where the wedding took place, is a village just outside of Limerick. It’s a got a hotel, a few houses, lots of money from the EEC, a picturesque river and a crumbling castle, which presumably once belonged to the Connells before they trashed it. I noticed all these things as I wandered around the area whilst also contemplating when it might be safe to sneak back to the hotel to get a drink at the after-wedding party. I thought it best to wait until it got dark, however most of the guests were far too drunk too even notice my reappearance and the Holy Father had long since been taken off to hospital to have the scone removed. So I took the opportunity to get legless and make an even bigger arse of myself. Needless to say the bride hasn’t spoken to me, or the groom, since the wedding.