American couple hold summer solstice wedding on the Hill of Tara

Jeff Olsen and Anna Lisa Van Bloem were captivated by the location three years ago

Jeff Olsen and Anna Lisa Van Bloem from Utah celebrate their marriage on the Hill of Tara. Photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Jeff Olsen and Anna Lisa Van Bloem from Utah celebrate their marriage on the Hill of Tara. Photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

 

American couple Jeff Olsen and Anna Lisa Van Bloem first came to Europe three years ago to celebrate the summer solstice.

Having taking sounding from other travellers, they were put off by the huge crowds that descend on Stonehenge every June 21st so opted for the Hill of Tara instead, the ancient site where the Celts marked the solstice.

The pair from Utah were so captivated by the tranquillity of the venue that they decided to return.

“We thought it was such a beautiful and awe-inspiring morning in 2016. We felt that we were really welcomed by the people there,” Jeff said.

“I would venture at that point in our hearts we were going to come back and do our wedding here.”

People gathering on the Hill of Tara on Friday morning for the summer solstice. Photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times
People gathering on the Hill of Tara on Friday morning for the summer solstice. Photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

The pair made good their promise on Friday morning and held a wedding ceremony on the Hill of Tara just as the sun was coming up over the eastern horizon on the longest day of the year.

They picked a beautiful morning for it with not a cloud in the sky. “We brought the sun with us,” he said.

They had a traditional Celtic hand-fasting service in which braided ribbons were wrapped and tied around their hands.

They chose eight ribbons, each one representing the eight children they have from previous relationships.

Local interfaith minister Enda Donnellan agreed to do the ceremony. The wedding party consisted of 10 relatives of the couple who proceeded up the hill 30 minutes before the sun rose. By the time they got to the top of the hill, there were 30 more people there who had gathered separately for the solstice.

It was a “magical event”, Mr Olsen says. They plan to travel around Ireland for the next week before returning to Utah to their families.

The couple have been together for four years and hope to tie the knot legally in the United States on their return.

Jeff Olsen and Anna Lisa Van Bloem from Utah celebrate their marriage on the Hill of Tara. Photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times
Jeff Olsen and Anna Lisa Van Bloem from Utah celebrate their marriage on the Hill of Tara. Photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times
Jeff Olsen and Anna Lisa Van Bloem from Utah celebrate their marriage on the Hill of Tara. Photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times
Jeff Olsen and Anna Lisa Van Bloem from Utah celebrate their marriage on the Hill of Tara. Photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times