I had to venture to Dunlewey in County Donegal on Thursday evening for a wedding practice.
I was preparing to celebrate the ceremony for friends who decided it would a picturesque and stunning location for their big day .
In the summer the place is wild and remote; in winter add to the mix the arrival of a storm then you really do experience the region at its wettest and wildest.
As usual I was running behind time; I didn’t leave Derry until five past seven and was slightly concerned because I had agreed a wedding practice for 8pm.
I had a vague memory I needed to travel towards Glenveigh National Park.
This would have been interesting in normal conditions but the cross winds and driving rain made the journey even more dramatic.
After I negotiated Letterkenny I travelled towards Kilmacrennan. I knew I had to turn left at Termon and journey over the mountain road towards Dunlewey.
In the pitch darkness the winding roads and worsening weather made the driving conditions difficult and dangerous. Although, whatever about my concerns on the road, I was more afraid of being late for the bride.
As I passed the turn-off for the Poison Glen I spotted the sign for Dunlewey and to my relief I still had a mobile signal which meant I could phone the bride and get directions to the Church. Thankfully I was only fifteen minutes late.
I had been booked into the hotel for two nights and with the arrival of morning I thought I would be able to get my bearings.
I didn’t sleep much that night as the gale force wind and torrential rain battered the windows of the hotel.
I was now feeling sorry for myself because I was struggling with man flu.
The Church at Dunlewey, I’m told, is situated in an idyllic location at the foot of Mount Errigal. It’s raised on a small mount overlooking the banks of the river and surrounding valley.
On the morning in question Errigal and most of the surrounding countryside was hidden in a thick blanket of cloud as the storm worsened with the wind becoming stronger and the rain getting heavier. By this stage I was panicking I might be blown away or drown in a puddle.
In the end the dramatic weather complemented the dramatic setting.
It was such a great occasion as two families, surrounded by friends and work colleagues celebrated together and the weather was soon forgotten. The groom had asked me to make an ecumenical gesture by praying for the poor suffering Man Utd supporters, but I couldn’t do it.
Amid the storms of life it’s the joy and solace of family and friends which provides light and comfort in the face of darkness.