Five decades on after they first stood in front of the altar of St. Joseph’s Church in Rathmullan to take their marriage vows, Bobby and Bessie Tasker returned from their home in Scotland in June 2011 to renew those pledges in the presence of the same celebrants who conducted the original ceremony and in the company of the same bridal party.
“It just flew in – it’s been a very easy fifty years,” Rathmullan native, Bessie declared.
She met her husband-to-be, a former footballer with Falkirk in the Scottish League, at a dance in her home village. Ironically, Bobby had been visiting the area for the wedding of a friend.
This week’s Mass of Celebration to mark the Golden Jubilee of the couple was celebrated by Fr. Eddie Deeney who, shortly after his own ordination, had conducted the original service all those years ago. On that occasion, and on this, he was assisted by Fr. Willie McMenamin.
The bridal party then included the best man, Anthony Toye from Letterkenny, bridesmaids, Annie Toye and Mary Sheridan, and flower girls, Daphne O’Connor and Marie Brett. All were present on Tuesday evening for this happiest of reunions.
“It’s amazing how time goes in,” said Bobby who wore kilt and sporron for the occasion.
The wedding album shows a picture of Bessie and Bobby, the latter complete with his beloved bagpipes. This time the bagpipes remained at home but Scotland was well represented at this week’s ceremony.
In his homily, Fr. Deeney recalled a prayer he’d recited on the occasion of the wedding a half a century ago which included the lines ‘may you see your children’s children’ and further generations.
And among the attendance this week were the four offspring of Bobby and Bessie, daughters Katrina, Sharon and Patricia, and son, Ian. There too were various grandchildren including Jake, Niall and Emily, another grand-daughter, Lisa, unable to attend. But Annie Toye, Bessie’s twin sister, was represented along with her grand-daughter, Amy.
While some of those who were present on June 28th, 1961, have since passed on, including the parents of the couple, Fr. Deeney highlighted the fact that the bridal party of the day had all been spared.
They were all, he said, on a journey to their heavenly home and a time when technology had introduced such guiding systems as the sat nav, they were being directed by what in many ways was the sat nav of God’s word. He hoped the Taskers would be blessed with many more years.
In offering congratulations at the conclusion of the ceremony of thanksgiving, Canon McMenamin remembered Bobby’s initial arrival into Rathmullan back in the fifties. It was a time when each and every area hosted its own soccer competitions and in Rathmullan they were always on the look-out for potential players among the visitors to the resort.
“One young fellow came from Stenhousemuir and we thought we’d give him a trial to see if he was as good as the rest of us. It turned out he was a whole lot better!,” the popular cleric commented on the footballing skills of the young Scottish footballer. “We were always very glad to have Bobby on our side.”
But a distraction came in the form of Bessie Toye and if she was working her shift at the Fort Royal Hotel they were able to avail of his services on the football field!
Fr. Eddie also had the attendance laughing, adopting a fairly approachable Scottish accent to relate the story of one of many phone calls that would arrive at the Deeney household looking for Bobby. “He’s awae down the rocks, he’s awae winching,” one friend remarked after the whereabouts of the Falkirk winger was sought.
The wedding reception was hosted in the former Court House, now Alfie McCollum’s bric-a-brac shop.
This time out the party made its way to the Water’s Edge for the celebrations – marking fifty years of love and commitment. Truly a Golden occasion.
This article by Harry Walsh first appeared in The Donegal Democrat in June 2011