Royal wedding countdown

Bun­crana res­i­dents on the ho­tel forced to can­cel its celebration tea ,

Belfast Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - Leona O’Neill

IN Lon­don­derry’s Foun­tain Es­tate, prepa­ra­tions are un­der­way for a lively and colour­ful street party to mark the oc­ca­sion of the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Satur­day.

Bunt­ing is be­ing placed around the com­mu­nity cen­tre, ladies are fever­ishly fash­ion­ing wedding hats and a moun­tain of sand­wiches with the crusts cut off are be­ing pre­pared.

Just 16 miles down the road, across the bor­der in the sleepy Done­gal sea­side town of Bun­crana, the royal wedding is as much a talk­ing point — but for dif­fer­ent rea­sons.

One of the lo­cal ho­tels found it­self in a right royal storm at the week­end af­ter it can­celled a Royal Wedding Af­ter­noon Tea event — that would have al­lowed guests to watch the nup­tials while be­ing plied with tea, scones, cakes and sand­wiches — fol­low­ing in­tense so­cial me­dia pres­sure from repub­li­cans in North­ern Ire­land.

The plush Inishowen Gate­way Ho­tel on the shores of Lough Swilly, one of Done­gal’s top wedding des­ti­na­tions, called off Satur­day’s celebration and apol­o­gised for any of­fence caused.

But peo­ple in Bun­crana, many of them un­fa­mil­iar with the po­lit­i­cal weight events such as the royal wedding might carry just up the road in North­ern Ire­land, have been left be­wil­dered that their home town is in the spot­light.

And they are an­gry that they will now have to watch pro­ceed­ings in their own homes and make their own neatly cut cu­cum­ber sand­wiches.

Liam Smith runs a bar­ber shop on Main Street. He said many lo­cal women were look­ing for­ward to the day.

“As far as I can see, peo­ple didn’t re­ally care about the royal wedding,” he said.

“But I think a lot of women were look­ing for­ward to go­ing to have af­ter­noon tea in the ho­tel and now their day is ru­ined.

“It should not have been can­celled. Are we to be threat­ened? They were in­tim­i­dated into can­celling it.

“The peo­ple who put pres­sure on the ho­tel are very nar­row minded and have been liv­ing their lives like that for a long time. They had no per­mis­sion to do that to the ho­tel.”

Traf­fic war­den Jackie McCrud­den said the ho­tel shouldn’t have can­celled the event.

“I hope Meghan and Harry are re­ally happy,” she said.

“I have noth­ing against them at all. I don’t think that the Inishowen Gate­way should have can­celled their event. It was only a bit of fun at the end of the day. Each to their own. It’s not the same down here as it would be in the north.

“I have no is­sues one way or the other. It’s two peo­ple getting mar­ried and that’s it.”

And Anna Porter thought the can­cel­la­tion of the ‘celebration of love’ was sad.

“I think Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are the most lovely of cou­ples,” she said.

“It’s a celebration of love, like any wedding. I think it’s sad that the ho­tel can­celled the event. I re­ally do.”

Billy Porter said he will now have to sit at home and make his own tea. “It’s ridicu­lous that I can’t go and just en­joy watch­ing the wedding and hav­ing a bit of craic,” he added. “Why should they not en­joy the royal wedding? I’m a Done­gal man and I’ll be sit­ting watch­ing it to see the style, ir­re­spec­tive of pol­i­tics.

“I don’t think they should de­prive peo­ple like my­self from go­ing. I’ll just watch it in my own home and will have to make my own tea.”

Me­lanie Con­nolly said that peo­ple are free to spend their money how­ever they like and that the event should not have been can­celled.

“I know there are a lot of Ir­ish peo­ple who don’t like the Bri­tish monar­chy,” she said.

“But it’s peo­ple’s choice if they want to at­tend these things. I think that it’s ridicu­lous that the event has been can­celled. If peo­ple support the royal fam­ily, why shouldn’t they go?

“Peo­ple are talk­ing about it on­line. Some are say­ing that it was wrong to can­cel, oth­ers are say­ing why should we celebrate the royal fam­ily.

“But I think if peo­ple want to spend their money and go to the event, let them go.” Bri­tish hol­i­day­maker Pauline Sey­mour said she was sad­dened to hear of the lo­cal event be­ing called off. “I think the royal wedding will be won­der­ful,” she said.

“I think Harry and Meghan have brought a lot to the royal fam­ily and we are very proud to have a royal fam­ily.

“I think it’s sad that the ho­tel were in­tim­i­dated into can­celling their event. I’m not sure why they did it, but it’s sad to think that they’re in­flu­enced when there is such a good thing hap­pen­ing.

“We will be watch­ing it back home in Birm­ing­ham on TV.”

But not ev­ery­one was a fan. Leo Gal­lagher said he def­i­nitely won’t be any­where near a TV on Satur­day. “I don’t care about the royal wedding,” he said. “You’d

I’m a Done­gal man and I’ll be sit­ting watch­ing the wedding to see the style, ir­re­spec­tive of pol­i­tics

think she was the only woman in the world who was getting mar­ried.

“I am not a repub­li­can, I am a na­tion­al­ist. I think the royal fam­ily are spongers and I dis­like them in­tently.

“I will def­i­nitely not be watch­ing it on Satur­day and I think the ho­tel did right to can­cel their event. I wouldn’t have the royal fam­ily near me.”

But lo­cal busi­nesses had a very dif­fer­ent view and were gear­ing up to keep an eye on pro­ceed­ings for other rea­sons.

Brendan Cal­laghan, owner of Cal­laghan’s Jew­ellers in Main Street, said he would be pay­ing par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to the ring on Meghan’s fin­ger. “From a pro- fes­sional point of view I’ll be in­ter­ested to see what wedding band she chose to go with her wedding ring,” he said.

“My eye will be on that more than any­thing else. I deal with cou­ples ev­ery week who are getting mar­ried. Gen­er­ally, there is no stress. If I had any ad­vice for Harry and Meghan it would be to en­joy them­selves.

It’s their big day, no­body else’s.”

And Char­lie McDaid from Topline Fash­ions said he would be tak­ing in the style on show on the day. “We are in the wedding style busi­ness,” he said.

“Satur­day will be an or­di­nary day for us here in the shop. But it will be a lovely oc­ca­sion, all wed­dings are.

“I deal with peo­ple go­ing to wed­dings ev­ery day of the week. It’s such a big oc­ca­sion for the whole fam­ily.

“You do see peo­ple get a bit up­tight. Ev­ery­one’s the same. As far as Meghan Markle’s fa­ther goes, I think he should for­get about ev­ery­one and just go to the wedding.” And even in the world of pol­i­tics, there were wedding fans. Rena Don­aghey, Fianna Fail coun­cil­lor for Inishowen, said the ho­tel’s royal event was “noth­ing but a storm in a tea cup”.

“No­body in Bun­crana is talk­ing about the can­celled event, ab­so­lutely no­body,” she said.

“This is just a storm in a teacup. This is re­ally, re­ally petty.

“This is one of the best ho­tels in the coun­try. They are not in any way po­lit­i­cally minded. All they want to do is pro­vide the best ser­vice they can.

“They’ve another wedding that day and they did not want for this to de­tract in any way from that bride and groom, be­cause they want them to have the best day of their life.”

Ed­i­tor of the Done­gal News Columba Gill said that the royal wedding was not a huge talk­ing point among the pub­lic un­til the con­tro­versy broke on the can­cel­la­tion. “There has been no great talk about it one way or the other, un­til this is­sue arose,” he said. “And even then peo­ple were be­mused by the op­po­si­tion to the ho­tel hav­ing an event like that. We know from ex­pe­ri­ence that a lot of peo­ple will be watch­ing the royal wedding in the pri­vacy of their own homes.

“I’m not sure there would be a lot of roy­al­ists in Done­gal. There are lots of peo­ple who have an in­ter­est in the royal fam­ily and the go­ings on, in the same way that they would have an in­ter­est in Corona­tion Street and the go­ings on there.

“We had Prince Charles and Camilla here last year and there was ter­rific in­ter­est in that visit and they were given a very warm wel­come, although there was some op­po­si­tion to it.

“We have had in­ci­dents in the past where a Union Flag was flown up in Dun­fanaghy last year, and that gen­er­ated some op­po­si­tion.

“But it tends to come from the same sources and they are re­ally in a mi­nor­ity.”

Inishowen Gate­way Ho­tel and (right) Prince Harry and Meghan Markle


Clock­wise from top left: Bun­crana bar­ber Liam Smith; Jackie McCrud­den, the town’s traf­fic war­den; Me­lanie Con­nolly from the Lily Rose cof­fee shop; Leo Gal­lagher; jeweller Brendan Cal­laghan, and Char­lie McDaid from Topline Fash­ions. Be­low, Anna Porter

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