David pops question as sun sets on winter solstice
THEY came to watch a sunset - and got to witness the beginning of something beautiful.
Irish language enthusiasts gathered to gathered to witness the winter solstice in a passage tomb on the top of Slieve Gullion yesterday but also managed to catch a marriage proposal.
The 20-strong group from Gaeltacht Oirdheasceart Uladh was sitting in the tomb, which is aligned to the setting sun of the winter solstice.
They were waiting for the sun to illuminate the tomb, when they were joined by a young American couple.
Amid songs, some poetry and chat, as the light began to shine in through the entrance, one of the group observed that it would be a very romantic place for a marriage proposal.
With that, the American, David Whitehead turned to his girlfriend, Cristin McKee, and said "It's funny they should say that because ... "
With that, he got down on bended knee, produced a ring from his pocket and asked his girlfriend to marry him.
All in the tomb, Ireland's highest surviving passage tomb and dating back to about 3,500bc, were quiet as they awaited her response, which was a resounding yes. Her answer was greeted with cheers.
The couple have been in Ireland for a number of weeks and fly back today to New York where they live. David is training to be a surgeon and Cristin works as an illustrator: her last work was on Ice Age 4.
The couple share a passion for archaeology. "We had hoped to go to Newgrange," said Cristin, "but it was too touristy and too busy. We searched other places on the internet and discovered Slieve Gullion."
They drove up from Limerick earlier in the day. After a 90-minutes climb to the summit, they reached the tomb in good time to witness the wintery sun illuminate the tomb.
In fact Cristin was able to see the light sparkle on her new ring.
David had had the ring made in Dublin: "I managed to slip away to collect it earlier in the week and it's been burning a hole in my pocket ever since."
The couple, from Boston and Rhode Island respectively, have been together for eight years and Cristin wasn't sure when they might get married.
"It's all been a bit of a shock, a wonderful surprise, but we'll have to talk about it and try to figure out how we get our families together as they are all scattered around the United States."