Our wedding breakfast cost us just 12 shillings and sixpence a head, Cork couple recalls

Over the past 50 years, The Metropole Hotel has hosted more than 3,000 weddings — CHRIS DUNNE caught up with two couples who held their reception there, as the venue seeks to talk to others about their special day
Our wedding breakfast cost us just 12 shillings and sixpence a head, Cork couple recalls
Kathleen and Pat Greene on their wedding day.

“THE Metropole Hotel in Cork was ‘the’ place to have your wedding reception when Pat and I got married,” says Kathleen Greene, of Castlemartyr, who celebrated 56 years of married bliss in June.

“Back then, the meal was called the wedding breakfast and everything was done and dusted by 2pm. There were drinks on the table for the guests, but very little drinking was done then. I think we were all Pioneers!”

The Metropole Hotel was a perfect central location for the bride and groom and their guests to enjoy the celebrations.

“Our guests came from Cork and from Mitchelstown,” recalls Kathleen.

“They were all delighted to be joining us in the Metropole for our wedding reception.

“St Patrick’s Church across the road from the Metropole was ideal for our wedding ceremony, conducted by my cousin, Fr Finn,” says Kathleen.

“Then, the train station was only walking distance away when we were heading off on honeymoon. We went to Limerick and to Galway. Salthill was a great spot.”

The Greenes, who have four children and nine grandchildren, always had an affinity with the Metropole Hotel.

Pat and Kathleen Green on wedding day with bridesmaid Margaret, best man John. They were wed at the Metropole Hotel, Cork 56 years ago.
Pat and Kathleen Green on wedding day with bridesmaid Margaret, best man John. They were wed at the Metropole Hotel, Cork 56 years ago.

“It is one of our favourite places to dine and to meet friends in the city before a show or a film,” says Kathleen.

“When we were courting, we went there a lot.”

And they met a lot.

“We went out together for four years,” says Pat.

“And we met every night for four years!”

In 50 years, The Metropole Hotel, spiritual home of the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival, has hosted more than 3,000 weddings and has issued a call to couples who had their wedding reception at the venue to join a new, first- ever, wedding club. Once the Metropole team have met the couples, a wedding wall will be created displaying wedding photos over the years. The couples will be entitled to a platinum card that will offer exclusive discounts and offers within the hotel for life.

Kathleen and Pat have fond memories of the happiest day of their lives 56 years ago.

Did she get to the church on time?

“I stayed in Cork the night before with a friend of mine, Anne O’Mahony, a telephonist who I worked with,” says Kathleen.

“She had an apartment across from City Hall. My dad picked me up in a taxi the next morning. The wedding breakfast was at 1pm. It wasn’t a long, drawn-out affair. I had changed into my going away outfit by 3pm. Everyone had a wonderful time.

“The Metropole was a brilliant venue. I’ll always remember the magnificent stairs at the front foyer.

“Frank Ryan, our photographer from Fermoy, got some fabulous wedding photographs of us on the stairs. The wedding album, 56 years old, is still in good condition. The photographs never faded. Sadly some of our wedding guests are no longer with us.”

The wonderful memories of June 4, 1963, have never faded.

“My wedding dress travelled all the way across the Atlantic!” says Kathleen. “My aunt sent me the dress, my sister wore it for her wedding too and it ended up as wedding vestments for the parish priest.”

Pat got spruced up for his big day.

“I bought my suit at Paddy Troy’s, Castlemartyr. Paddy was well known for his good tailoring,” says Pat.

He really kept things local.

Cork couple Pat and Kathleen Greene, Castlemartyr, who are married for 56 years. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Cork couple Pat and Kathleen Greene, Castlemartyr, who are married for 56 years. Picture: Denis Minihane.

“The morning of our wedding, I went to the barber, Jim O’Mahony, two doors up from where the greengrocer’s shop is now. Jim, now deceased, was a popular man in the village.”

When Pat was suited and booted he was ready to tie the knot.

“My best man, my brother, John, and I, headed to the city, to St Patrick’s Church, then to the Metropole Hotel for the wedding breakfast.”

Apart from the hundreds of couples who celebrated their weddings at The Metropole Hotel, it was a popular venue for many patrons.

King Edward VII is reputed to have taken tea on the roof there when he visited Cork in 1903 for the city’s Great Exhibition. Gregory Peck, James Mason, Frank O’Connor, John Steinbeck, John Huston and Walt Disney all enjoyed the hotel’s warm hospitality.

“It was a seasonal choice for a wedding,” says Kathleen.

“There was a choice of two hotels in the city for our wedding and we decided that the Metropole fitted the bill.”

What was the bill for the Greenes’ wedding reception in 1963?

“The wedding breakfast cost 12 shillings and sixpence a head,” says Kathleen.

“The menu was a three course meal, soup, turkey and ham, followed by a sweet.

“Granny Greene made the wedding cake. She was a great baker. We had 36 guests, everyone dressed in their finery.”

Kathleen and Pat had the best vantage point at the top table.

“It was lovely to see all our family and friends having a good time.”

Kathleen says her wedding was unique.

“Weddings that time were very different from the weddings of today,” she says.

“They were much more family orientated and the hotel catered for us with that in mind.”

The couple, who celebrated their Golden Jubilee in Garryvoe Hotel in 2013, still have the many telegrams that were delivered to the Metropole Hotel wishing them well.

“Telegrams were part and parcel of the wedding day in the ’50s and ’60s,” says Kathleen.

“We still have them and take them out of the box to read them again.”

Life is one long honeymoon for the Greenes.

“We always worked very well together,” says Kathleen.

They revisit the Metropole Hotel often to relive the happiest day of their lives.

“We love it there,” Kathleen adds. “And we’ll always remember our fabulous wedding day there on June 4, 1963.”

Martin and Elaine Duggan who had their wedding reception in the Metropole Hotel Cork, 31 years ago.
Martin and Elaine Duggan who had their wedding reception in the Metropole Hotel Cork, 31 years ago.

Another couple, Martin and Elaine Duggan, remember days like that too.

They met in Bogart’s night-club, now The Savoy, and got married 31 years ago, on August 19 1988. They celebrated their wedding in the Shandon Room in the Metropole Hotel.

“I loved the idea of that,” says Martin, who has a shoe repair and Cobbler shop in Shandon Street, Cork, like his father before him.

“The name of the reception room was a really nice coincidence and it added another nice touch to our wedding day.

“That did it for me! The Shandon room had been renovated like a labour of love.

“The Metropole building itself was a labour of love with great attention to detail. I love the Victorian Quarter anyway,” says Martin.

“I’m joined a camera club and we meet at the Met regularly.

“Elaine and I often drop in there for a drink. The hotel is so central to the city, it’s great,” says Martin.

“Elaine and I both have happy memories of going to the Jazz Festival at the Met over many years.

“We enjoyed many a good night there.”

Martin danced to a different tune when he met Elaine.

“It was during the Saturday Night Fever era,” says Martin, recalling meeting the love of his life.

“I was nearly knocked down crossing the road on my way into Bogarts!”

That didn’t deter him from spotting the love of his life across a crowded room and asking her to dance.

“I took a tumble, but all was well. Elaine and I met and our first date was going out to a restaurant for a curry,” recalls Martin.

“We got engaged at Christmas and we married in August. We decided to have our reception at the Metropole. We always liked the place,” says Martin.

“It seemed a natural choice because we were familiar with the hotel and it was easy to get to for our guests.

“There was no point going 20 miles away outside the city.”

Martin had attended a memorable wedding at the Metropole before.

“I was page boy for my uncle’s wedding 20 years before my own wedding!” says Martin.

“I always remember wearing white gloves!”

And he remembered the ambience of The Metropole Hotel and the warm welcome offered by the staff.

“The Metropole Hotel was a perfect choice of venue for generations of Cork people for their weddings” says Martin.

“Elaine still tells people we had our wedding reception at the Metropole. It’s just a great Cork tradition.”

Martin and Elaine, who have two children, pushed the boat out on their wedding day.

“We hired a double-decker bus from St Joseph’s Church Dillon’s Cross to the Metropole for our 100 guests!

“Fr Nolan, a family friend, married us.”

The wedding party enjoyed a slap-up three course meal.

“Turkey and ham was the usual choice of hot plate,” says Martin.

“Everyone enjoyed the meal, and the wine for the toast.

“We had paid a deposit of 50 pounds and I still have the receipt for the cost of the wedding reception; 998 pounds.”

He still remembers the first dance.

“The band were brilliant and they played Lady in Red for the first dance. That was lovely because Elaine wore a red dress the night we got engaged.”

Martin remembers something else as well.

“We were asked to 10 weddings the year we got engaged!”

Elaine had a lovely ‘going away’ outfit.

“It was traditional then for the bride and groom to change out of our wedding clothes to head away and for the guests to wave us off on our honeymoon,” says Martin.

“I think we missed the best part of our reception when we drove off to Tramore!”

Martin says that a bride and groom should savour every moment on their wedding day.

“You know, people often say about weddings, that the day is very long and dragged out. But for the bride and groom who are involved in every moment; the day flies.

“I’d advise people getting married to enjoy all of the day; every minute of it.”

The couple are still enjoying their wedding presents.

“We got some lovely sets of china,” says Martin.

“And the usual irons and kettles of course!”

Martin says his wedding day at the Metropole Hotel 31 years ago had all the bells and whistles.

“It was a brilliant day; a day that Elaine and I will always remember.”

The Metropole is hosting a night in October with all the couples to celebrate past weddings at the hotel.

On that night, one lucky couple will win a prize to renew their vows at the hotel.

To chat about your wedding at the Metropole Hotel, contact Jane Kelleher, 021-4643771 or emailed conference @metropolehotel.ie

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