Early on St. Patrick's morning, while the rest of Washington was still stumbling into the shower, retired Navy pilot Richard G. Thomson and Irish-born apartment manager Marie Pryor said their "I Do's" in the backroom of the Dubliner Restaurant and Pub, then craned their necks out over a thicket of microphones representing local TV news organizations, and kissed.
It was goodbye to the single life for Thomson, 55, and Pryor, 48. It was hello to a rambunctious St. Patrick's Day for the Dubliner, where a $5 admission fee entitled patrons to an hour's worth of 17-cent drinks, and to a furious day-long quest for blarney by members of the Washington press corps, who, as it happened, vastly outnumbered the other wedding guests.
Far from minding the to-do, Thomson and Pryor worked valiantly to keep the peace when the press fell to squabbling over whether the couple should reenact their vows a fourth time for a late-arriving camera crew, or hurry up and leave so everybody could get his shot of sprinkling confetti.
And with equal grace, the bride and groom recounted to all comers the story of their whirlwind romance and their rationale for getting married at 8:30 a.m., on St. Patrick's Day, in a pub.
"I don't feel that it's a pub, and I've been coming here since the place opened," said Pryor, who was born in Wexford County, Ireland, and emigrated to the United States 20 years ago, on the occasion of her first marriage. As for St. Patrick's Day, Pryor said it had always been a moving holiday for her.
"It's kind of crazy and far out," said Thomson, who admits to being of Welsh/German stock, "but we decided that since we met here and she's Irish, we should get married at the Dubliner on St. Patrick's Day."
The couple met seven weeks ago at the Fort Myer Officers Club. "Richard walked across and said, 'Would you care to dance?' and I said, 'I'd love to,' " Pryor recalled. Later that evening, they repaired to the Dubliner to become better acquainted. Two days later, Thomson proposed.
As for the choice of nuptial hour, "they asked us to get out of here earlier before the crazies came, and that was fine with us," Thomson explained.
The crazies, invited to patronize the Dubliner from 9 a.m. on, included sisters Katie and Mary Margaret Hogan, two second-generation Irish Americans who brightly refused to identify the federal agencies that, on most other days of the year, employ them. "But we're on annual leave," Mary Margaret was careful to establish.
"And besides," her sister chimed in, "my chiropractor told me I was working too hard and I needed the day off."
After a wedding breakfast at the Hyatt Regency hotel, the couple planned to continue celebrating at, where else, the Dubliner.
They would be served by, among others, bartender David Tooney, who said he had prepared for the grueling day with 12 hours' sleep. Although St. Patrick's Day revelers are not very strong in the tipping department, Tooney said, "It's a fun day to work--but thank God it doesn't come too often."