AN Olympian from Antigua and Barbuda will marry in Cork after competing at the prestigious 69th Cork City Sports athletics championships.
In February, the director of Cork City Sports, Joe Hartnett, invited Olympian Priscilla Frederick, representing Antigua and Barbuda, to compete in the High Jump at the international event on August 14.
In April, Priscilla got engaged to her high school sweetheart, American Kenneth Loomis, whose family are originally from Mayo, and they decided to get married in Cork after Priscilla participates in the athletic event.
Neither Priscilla or Kenneth have ever been to Ireland.
“Kenneth wanted to go back and see where he came from and I always wanted to compete in Ireland,” she said.
“Once I got the invitation, I was so excited. When we got engaged, we saw how much American weddings cost and what the process was and we wanted no part in that.
"We wanted to make sure we focused on our love story and our marriage. We decided on Cork with no hesitation.”
The pair have never been to Ireland before but Priscilla said they have heard only good things.
“We love Ireland. The history, the tradition, the views, and the culture. We both have never been but only heard incredible stories of what the country is like, the atmosphere, and what a phenomenal time people had when they visited.”
In terms of the wedding, which she hopes will take place in Macroom, Priscilla said the pair are eloping in a sense.
“We are getting married in Cork, just us two. We will have a party when we get back to the States, sometime next spring. We realised how much financial stress comes with American weddings and wanted to focus on us, the marriage.
"My fiancé’s family has ties there. His Uncle Tom Loomis has been organizing a trip with the Woodland String Band to bring about 150 people every year to Macroom for the past 20 years to celebrate the St Patrick’s Day.
"He has built strong ties to the people of Macroom and the area. Its like home to the Loomis family.
“We didn’t want a $30,000 party to celebrate our love; we wanted to make it truly mean something for each other.
"His family comes from Ireland; his grandmother passed away August 15, my mom’s birthday is August 15 and it’s the Assumption of our Blessed Virgin Mary. We wanted to have some culture and meaning to our wedding.”
In classic Priscilla and Kenneth style, the honeymoon has not yet been planned.
“My agent is setting up more meets so hopefully we will spend our “honeymoon” travelling Europe together while I compete,” she said.
“The plan is one full week in Ireland and then off to some more European meets. It’s an amazing experience to have the one you love support your dream and ‘day job’.
“He has never been to most of my track meets so having him by my side will be wonderful.”
Kenneth, who is a high school history teacher and head football coach, is back teaching on August 29, so he will return home to the United States while Priscilla keeps competing until the World Championships.
“The official honeymoon will be in Bali after the Olympic Games,” Priscilla said.
Turning her attention to the Cork City Sports Day, Priscilla said she was ready to compete in Cork.
“Knowing this will be my first time and finally getting to complete in Ireland is so exciting. I will be coming straight from Pan Am Games so it’ll be great. I’m in awesome shape and have been preparing for this summer’s competitions. Coming from a great indoor for myself, jumping 1.91m, I expect to go in and compete with whoever is in the field.”