A unique Irish marriage proposal

Lauraine Harper emailed me a few weeks back. She read that we love to tell peoples stories and told us she was eager to tell us her marriage proposal story. I can see why. This is truly a touching story. Thank you Lauraine for sharing this with us

We would like to share our Ireland Trip story with you, for it is charged with two very different types of emotion.

Billy’s Mom, JoAnne Dunlevy was not feeling well when we started out for our very first trip to Ireland. We stopped to see her on the way to the airport. We told her we would cancel our plans and in her usual unselfish way she said to us “You kids get on that plane and don’t look back”. She always spoke of her desire to go back to her roots in her family’s County Clare. We promised her we would go there and have a toast in her honor.

Early on September 1, 2003 we went to the oldest pub in Ireland, in County Clare and had the toast while we read a poem we had given to her a few months prior, which reads:

May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sunshine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

That same night we had a spectacular medieval dinner at Bunratty Castle. At the completion of dinner, Billy got up in front of 200 people and said “My name is Billy Harper; I am from Hobe Sound FL. I don’t own a castle and I don’t play the harp, but I have lovely Lauraine in my life and tonight I would like to ask her to marry me”. He got down on his knee and everyone in the castle applauded and cheered!!! We met a lovely couple from Galway as we left the castle, and discovered they have a second home just a few miles from us in Florida. We heard the whole story the next day on a local radio station as we were driving to Limerick. Apparently, Billy’s proposal was the first to happen at Bunratty Castle!

We found the most beautiful church called Mt. St. Alphonsus. We lit a candle and when we knelt down, there was a “Prayer for a Mother” posted right in front of Billy.

That evening, JoAnne passed away.

We received the news as we were going to a very special dinner show in Dublin. As we sat down, they started to sing “I’ll take you home again, Kathleen”. That was JoAnne’s mother’s name and it was also her favorite song of all time. We both cried and realized it was her way of saying goodbye. She would not have wanted it any other way.

On St. Valentine’s Day 2004 we got married at sunset and had a Traditional Irish Ceili in Florida. The couple we met at Bunratty Castle attended and danced all night. Their wedding gift to us was a beautiful painting of Connemara. Of course our wedding cake was a replica of Bunratty Castle!

Our visit to Ireland will always be that one special moment in time that has stood still and will never leave us. The people, the flowers, the fragrance of the land, the history, the music are beyond words. There, I received the gift of my husband, the most wonderful person I have ever known, in the most wonderful place I have ever been.

Lauraine Harper, Hobe Sound, Florida